Ideavibes whitepaper practical crowdsourcing for civic engagement_v02-1

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This whitepaper discusses crowdsourcing for civic and citizen engagement by cities, provinces or states, and countries.

This whitepaper discusses crowdsourcing for civic and citizen engagement by cities, provinces or states, and countries.

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  • 1. Ideavibes WhitepaperPRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENTPractical Crowdsourcing for Civic Engagement Tuesday June 7, 2011Practical Crowdsourcingfor Civic Engagement
  • 2. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCINGFOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENTTable of ContentsEngaging the Citizen Diaspora .................................................................................................................................................................... 3Crowdsourcing & Civic Behaviour.............................................................................................................................................................. 3 Low voter participation ................................................................................................................................................................................................3 High social media activity .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 4The Best of Both Worlds............................................................................................................................................................................... 5 Offline Engagement ......................................................................................................................................................................................................5 Online Engagement ......................................................................................................................................................................................................5Practical Applications of Crowdsourcing for Civic Engagement ........................................................................................................ 5 Crowdsource to Solve Problems ...............................................................................................................................................................................6 Crowdsource to Get the Job Done ...........................................................................................................................................................................6 Crowdsource to Increase Participation ...................................................................................................................................................................6 Crowdsource to be More Transparent .....................................................................................................................................................................6 Crowdsource to spur change .....................................................................................................................................................................................7Benefits of Crowdsourcing ........................................................................................................................................................................... 7 Long-Lived.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................7 Budget-Friendly .............................................................................................................................................................................................................7 Immediate .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................7 Transparent .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................7The Crowd is Talking. Are You Listening? ................................................................................................................................................ 8
  • 3. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT “...social media has demonstrated its capacity to compel social movements and create large- scale change quickly.” - Citizen Engagement Laboratory (Berkley1)Engaging the Citizen DiasporaCivic engagement is challenging to accomplish in a society from individual voluntarism to organizational involvement towhere individuals no longer congregate around a few common electoral participation...Civic engagement encompasses a rangepublic spaces, such as a town hall or church. It is ever more of specific activities such as working in a soup kitchen, serv-difficult for governments, citizen-focused organizations and ing on a neighbourhood [sic] association, writing a letter to anelected representatives to reach constituents who divide their elected official or voting.”2discretionary time between a wide variety of specific social Civic participation is critical to involving citizens in learning about,groups, various sports and hobbies, travel and more. But, social contributing to, supporting or improving issues that affect them,media does provide a cost-effective and efficient tool to reach such as decisions about public spaces, large public expenditures,this citizen diaspora. solving problems in communities, and accomplishing tasksThrough social media, individuals expand their social networks through volunteerism. Crowdsourcing compliments these goalsglobally while bringing the entire world closer to them—mak- by providing organizations and governments with a means ofing it a smaller, more accessible place. By taking advantage of engaging individual awareness and input on a large scale. It buildsthe underpinnings of social media behaviour and Open Source upon citizens’ natural inclinations towards creativity, competitionprinciples, crowdsourcing harnesses the ideas of large, disparate and involvement to generate powerful ideas and solutions.groups of people (citizens) to gather input and create awareness Crowdsourcing is particularly relevant for civic engagementthat leads to change. efforts because it bridges the divide between two currentIn this paper, I will demonstrate how of crowdsourcing can be phenomena in civic behaviour: low voter participation and highemployed to build participation in citizen engagement campaigns social media activity.Crowdsourcing & Civic Behaviour Low voter participationReality talent shows and websites that enable viewer-audience Voter turnout in the most recent Canadian federal election andvoting have proven that individuals are naturally driven to give the United States presidential elections saw a slight increasetheir input when they can see the immediate results of their over previous elections. Both campaigns engaged more socialcontributions. Voting is a proven way of enabling participation media elements than ever before, which may have contributedand it is a yardstick of civic engagement—it is also a key compo- to the slight lift in participation. Yet, the number of voters is stillnent in many crowdsourcing activities. too low: the 2011 Canadian federal election saw a voter turnout of 61.4%3, and the 2008 American presidential election sawThe American Psychological Association has defined civic a turnout of 63.7%4. With nearly 40% of the population notengagement as, “Individual and collective actions designed voting, the outcome of these elections does not necessarilyto identify and address issues of public concern.” The kinds of represent the overall wishes of an entire population.activities that comprise civic engagement “can take many forms,1. “Using Social Media to Organize Social Movements: A Look at Citizen Engagement Laboratory”. http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/05/social-media-citizen-engagement-laboratory/2. American Psychological Association. “Civic Engagement” webpage as of 03-05-11: http://www.apa.org/education/undergrad/civic-engagement.aspx3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/05/03/cv-election-voter-turnout-1029.html, CBC News, ‘Voter turnout inches up to 61.4%’, May 3rd 2011.4. http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-562.pdf, US Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008, May 2010 IDEAVIBES | 3
  • 4. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT High social media activity The number of people using social media websites grows daily, similar interests, or who work in the same industry. Canadians in including an increasing number of adults. Social media usage particular spend a great deal of time online—more than people data from May 2011 collected by Ad Age indicates that nearly from 11 other countries (including the U.S. and U.K.), according 36% of male Facebook users and more than 27% of female to a 2011 comScore survey: Facebook users fall between the ages of 30 and 54.5 These individuals are using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with family members, friends, people who share “The study found that Canadians spent an average of 43.5 hours online in the fourth quarter of 2010, nearly double the average of 23.1 hours surfed by the 11 countries surveyed… The study also tracked Canadians’ social networking, with Facebook (seven per cent), Twitter (11 per cent) and LinkedIn (35 per cent) all claiming significant increases in unique visitors.”6 Consider these additional statistics regarding social media use in 20107: TWITTER FACEBOOK VIDEOS & PHOTOS 25 billion: number of tweets sent 600 million: people on Facebook at 2 billion: number of videos watched per on Twitter in 2010 the end of 2010 day on YouTube 100 million: new accounts added 250 million: new people on Facebook 5 billion: photos hosted by Flickr on Twitter in 2010 in 2010 (September 2010) 175 million: people on Twitter 30 billion: pieces of content (links, 3000+: photos uploaded per minute as of September 2010 notes, photos, etc.) shared on Facebook to Flickr per month 3+ billion: photos uploaded per month 70%: share of Facebook’s user base to Facebook located outside the United States 20 million: number of Facebook apps installed each day Given these numbers, it is certain that citizens can be—and must be embraced and used to connect with and reach out should be engaged with online, and that social media activity to citizens. 5 Carmichael, Matt. The Demographics of Social Media. AdAgeBlogs, May16, 2011: http://adage.com/article/adagestat/demographics-facebook-linkedin-myspace-twitter/227569/ 6 Barber, Michael. Survey finds Canadians spending more time online than those in other countries. The Vancouver Sun, March 9, 2011: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Survey+finds+ Canadians+spending+more+time+online+than+those+other+countries/4408671/story.html 7. Coleman, Rebecca. State of the Union: Social Networking, citing Royal Pingdom blog post, Internet 2010 in numbers: http://www.rebeccacoleman.ca/2011/02/04/social-media/ state-of-the-union-social-networking-2/4 | IDEAVIBES
  • 5. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENTThe Best of Both Worlds Online EngagementIn order to improve citizen engagement, elected representatives The Internet has made way for new civic engagement opportu-and civic organizations must combine tried-and-true traditional nities. As Nicol Tuner-Lee notes9:methods of campaigning with more innovative approaches that “The Internet has become the new platform for freedomreflect these changes in citizen behaviour. Barack Obama’s cam- of speech, and the expression of civic ideas. With more thanpaign during the 2008 US presidential election was one of the 66 percent of Americans online, virtual micro-communities,first large-scale political campaigns to do this—I’ll discuss that or niche web portals, have made it easier for people to deliber-campaign later in this paper. ately seek out and sustain relationships with those who shareOrganizations, government agencies and governments can similar interests, opinions, and backgrounds. Citizens can pickengage with their audience through a number of offline and and choose both the online destination where they want toonline mediums. share, and the preferred format to communicate their opinions whether through a blog, video, podcast, or tweet. Before theOffline Engagement Internet, these ideas were shared at community town hall and block club meetings.”The Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted a study calledThe Current State of Civic Engagement in America, which outlines According to research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project,some of the various offline methods that citizens use to contact citizens are using these online methods to communicate withpoliticians at various levels8: their local leaders:• Contact a government official in person, by phone or by letter • Send an email to a government official• Sign a paper petition • Sign a petition online• Send a letter to the editor through the mail • Email a letter to the editor• Make a political contribution in person, by phone or through • Make a political contribution on the Internet the mail • Communicate with a civic/political group by email, text• Communicate with a civic/political group by face-to-face messaging, instant messaging, using the group’s website or meetings, print letter or newsletter or telephone using a social networking siteSome of the offline methods that politicians use to reach out tocitizens include: Practical Applications of Crowdsourcing• Door-to-door canvassing for Civic Engagement• Mass mail-outs or flyer drop-offs Author Jeff Howe was one of the first people to coin the term,• Town hall meetings, in-person Q & A sessions, public debates crowdsourcing. The practice applies Open Source principles to fields outside of software by taking a task traditionally per-• Interviews formed by one person and outsourcing it to a large group ofThese tactics represent traditional offline activities that are still people. Crowdsourcing is like an open call for ideas.important elements of citizen engagement, particularly among Crowdsourcing can engage audiences in projects, challenges andthe over-40 voter population. decisions. It gathers the collective wisdom of large numbers of8. Pew Internet & American Life Project. The Current State of Civic Engagement in America, 2009: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/15--The-Internet-and-Civic-Engagement/2-- The-Current-State-of-Civic-Engagement-in-America.aspx?r=19. Tuner-Lee, Nicol. The Challenge of Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Age. The Future of Digital Communications: Policy Perspectives: http://twcresearchprogram.com/pdf/ TWC%20Policy_Turner-Lee.pdf IDEAVIBES | 5
  • 6. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT people to arrive at outcomes and conclusions that are more accu- members of the crowd’s own networks involved. Through rate than, or otherwise superior to, the wisdom of any individual. increased participation, the impact of a crowdsourcing cam- James Surowiecki, in his 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why paign becomes stronger. It can also be used to solve issues in the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom a very cost-effective way compared to hiring market research Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, acknowledges firms, or in concert with traditional market research. Tapping that not all crowds are wise—for example, a crazed mob. the wisdom of the crowd brings new ideas to the table very rapidly and at low cost. It also attracts experts who can offer He identifies these four attributes of a wise crowd: their services, expertise and advice to help get the job done in i. Diversity of opinion—each contributor/source has private the way citizens want it done. information or interpretation of the topic Crowdsource to Increase Participation ii. Independence—contributors’ opinions are not determined by those of others Crowdsourcing is very accessible and makes it easier for indi- vidual citizens to be heard, because posting an idea or voting iii. Decentralization—contributors can specialize by drawing on for an idea is very easy to do. Even busy individuals who are not local knowledge able to participate in community organizations or attend interest iv. Aggregation—a mechanism is in place to gather private group meetings can have a voice through crowdsourcing. It is judgements into a collective decision also a viable tool to engage younger citizens who have grown Effective crowdsourcing leverages these attributes to gain up with the Internet and social media as an integral part of their more accurate insights into problems and solutions than can day-to-day lives. be achieved through discussions with individuals or small local Barack Obama’s 2008 federal election campaign in the United groups. These are some ways that you can engage a crowd to States offers one of the greatest examples to date of using social achieve civic engagement goals: media and online collaboration to foster greater participation: Crowdsource to Solve Problems “Most recently, the 2008 election demonstrated how the Internet could drive public opinion and voter participation. Crowdsourcing is frequently used as a problem-solving tool and President Barack Obama’s campaign used online tools and can therefore be a tool to improve results-oriented civic engage- social networks in a way that contributed to his victory as ment. For example, some cities and communities have em- the first African American President of the United States. braced crowdsourcing as a means of incorporating residents into The Obama campaign used the Internet to raise half a billion decision making and getting them to help solve problems. Civic dollars, the largest amount of contributions to a political op- leaders may be hesitant to use social media tools because they eration ever received through online donations. His website, are afraid they will be used as centres rather than remaining fo- MyBarackObama.com, gathered thousands of e-mail address- cused on the task at hand. Crowdsourcing is ideal for overcom- es and, in turn, nurtured a vast base of national volunteers ing this concern because it can be highly specific. For example, it supporting the campaign’s field tactics.”10 can be used to have citizens first vote to determine the highest priority problem to solve, then to have them vote on solutions to Crowdsource to Be More Transparent the problem—including solutions that they and others post. Today’s consumers demand transparency from major corpora- Crowdsource to Get the Job Done tions, governments and elected officials. Taxpayers want to know where their dollars are being spent and to ensure that Crowdsourcing relies on social media behaviour (such as public funds are not being wasted. They also want to be includ- sharing and liking) to build awareness among and get the ed in the decision-making process. Transparency is also critical 10 Tuner-Lee, Nicol. The Challenge of Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Age. The Future of Digital Communications: Policy Perspectives: http://twcresearchprogram.com/pdf/ TWC%20Policy_Turner-Lee.pdf6 | IDEAVIBES
  • 7. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENTto good governance—another quality that citizens demand from time as new ideas, comments and people become engaged inmajor corporations and our governing bodies. the conversation. Once off the ground, crowdsourcing cam-Crowdsourcing can be used to improve access to information; paigns become crowd-driven. As long as there is crowd engage-it can ensure that information is timely, accurate, complete and ment and interest, the campaign will live.relevant to citizen inquiries; it can disseminate messages very Budget-Friendlyquickly to large audiences; and, it makes it possible to incorpo-rate citizens in the decision making process. Some organizations Crowdsourcing uses networks of people and social media toolsuse crowdsourcing as a customer feedback tool—the same to spread the word about campaigns, projects and ideas. Thisconcept can be applied to civic life as well, giving citizens easy makes it possible to create a far-reaching effort that stretchesaccess to the lines of communication and empowering them to campaign dollars. It can also be used to improve the return oncontribute by giving them a voice. investment of traditional campaigns. By bringing people’s atten- tion to crowdsourcing campaigns in offline engagement activi-Crowdsource to Spur Change ties (for example, calls to action to “go online and vote for theCrowdsourcing has applications far beyond the campaign mo- change you want” printed on campaign pamphlets or referencedment: it can be used in everyday activities to continually engage in TV ads), the value and ROI of traditional engagement toolswith citizens and address real-time issues. Crowdsourcing gath- can be increased.ers a wealth of information, ideas and opinions that leaders and Immediatecitizens never used to have access to. As Diana Scearce writes: While door-to-door and telephone campaigns provide represen-“Throughout history, social change has been possible only tatives with immediate feedback from citizens, these methodsthrough the contributions and dedication of many citizens. by necessity reach only a small percentage of the population.Today’s network-centric engagement builds on existing know- Combining these activities with crowdsourcing provides govern-how, drawing in particular on grassroots community organizing ments and politicians with a more complete picture of opinionsand the open-source software movement.”11 and preferences. Crowdsourcing campaigns can deliver a broadCrowdsourcing can be used to engage individuals and grassroots understanding of general opinions very quickly—informationcommunity organizations in meaningful change at any time. that can be leveraged during walk-abouts and phone campaigns to dig deeper into citizens’ opinions and to validate crowdsourc-Benefits of Crowdsourcing ing campaign findings one-on-one.In addition to the capabilities discussed above, crowdsourcing Transparentoffers a number of benefits over traditional methods of civic As discussed earlier in this paper, crowdsourcing providesengagement, including: citizens with a new kind of transparency into government. ItLong-Lived does so by enagling greater access to information and decision- making processes, as well as providing a platform for citizens toCrowdsourcing has a longer lifespan than traditional campaigns, participate in those processes.which tend to die out when the budget is spent and/or resourcesare reassigned. Crowdsourcing, on the other hand, evolves over11. Scearce, Diana. Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks. Crowdsourcing.org, 2011: http://www.crowdsourcing.org/document/ connected-citizens-the-power-peril-and-potential-of-networks-/3490 IDEAVIBES | 7
  • 8. PRACTICAL CROWDSOURCING FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT The Crowd is Talking, Are You Listening? Everyday, citizens are having conversations about their govern- information that would otherwise be too costly or otherwise ment and its decisions. Being able to tap into those conversa- unfeasible to gather. Able to reach a more diverse citizen base tions and gather meaningful opinions that can be used for than traditional methods of civic engagement, crowdsourcing decision-making is critical to the effectiveness of governments, can provide equally valuable input and direction and can be used civic organizations and elected officials. Crowdsourcing—and to enhance the value of traditional tools. Perhaps most impor- other social media—are tools that ignite conversations and turn tantly, crowdsourcing expands the reach of a message or idea to bystanders into active participants in government. networks beyond one’s immediate crowd. Crowdsourcing is a key component in the digital democracy— Ideavibes™ has developed the first hosted Crowd Engagement a social reality in which “the divide between media [message] Platform™ that is designed to allow governments, civic organiza- producers and consumers has dissolved and citizen [produced] tions and elected representatives to frame engagement in a way media rules… While before citizens had to rally for mainstream that creates greater citizen engagement. It is also the first platform media attention to catch the ears of politicians, now it is easier that delivers the power to create crowdsourcing or crowdfund- than ever before for citizens to launch awareness campaigns and ing campaigns from a single, easy to use control panel. For more get their message heard by the masses.”12 information, visit www.ideavibes.com and www.fundchange.com. Through its participatory nature, crowdsourcing gives govern- ments and elected representatives useful insights and valuable 12. Campbell, Lisa. Dotmocracy: Crowdsourcing, mashups and social change: http://www.mobilerevolutions.org/Dotmocracy.pdf8 | IDEAVIBES