Using Crowdsourcing In Government
A new report by Professor Brabham, for IBM Center for The Business of Government, tries to categorize some of the new government crowdsourcing cases into a four-part, problem-based typology, encouraging government leaders and public administrators to consider these open problem-solving techniques as a way to engage the public and tackle difficult policy and administrative tasks more effectively and efficiently using online communities.
The report begins with an overview of crowdsourcing, what makes crowdsourcing work, and what distinguishes it from other instances of participatory culture often mistaken for crowd-sourcing. A problem-based typology is then presented to make sense of crowdsourcing and understand when and how to deploy crowdsourcing in the business of government. This typology is illustrated with several cases from the public sector, and other possible applications for crowdsourcing by government are presented. The report concludes with 10 best practices and considerations for crowdsourcing, drawn from research on recent private and public crowd-sourcing applications.
The report demonstrate the promise of the intersection of technology tools, problem-solving techniques, and the participatory spirit of citizen engagement—all of which are embodied in crowdsourcing. It also provides a strategic view of crowdsourcing and identifying four specific types:
- Knowledge Discovery and Management: collecting knowledge reported by an online community, such as the reporting of earth tremors or potholes to a central source
- Distributed Human Intelligence Tasking: distributing “micro-tasks” that require human intelligence to solve, such as transcribing handwritten historical documents into electronic files
- Broadcast Search: broadcasting a problem-solving challenge widely on the Internet and providing an award for its solution, such as NASA’s prize for an algorithm to predict solar flares
- Peer-Vetted Creative Production: creating peer-vetted solutions, where an online community both proposes possible solutions and is empowered to collectively choose among them
Dr. Brabham assesses the strategic use of each type of crowdsourcing to assist public managers in determining the appropriate crowdsourcing approach for responding to different kinds of problems. By understanding the types and approaches of crowdsourcing, public managers will have increased their success rate in leveraging this tool.
Download the report (PDF file)