When the American Planning Association (APA) convenes their national annual conference tomorrow, one word attendees will hear often is, “citizensourcing,” which is crowdsourcing citizens for public sector benefit. This new digital age of social connectivity has created an ingenious way for us to accomplish improvements and innovations as a society. But it needs to be put into place, first.
My hometown won’t host our annual Homewood Days festival this year because the planners involved managed to take six months to produce a plan that didn't work and included new events that offended people. Since thousands of Homewood residents believe they could’ve come up with better plans in an hour, the cancellation of our burgeoning tradition has incensed the entire town. Had the planners citizensourced, our town would’ve found success.
The key to effective citizensourcing is keeping it simple. Here are the four steps you need:
You need a connectivity framework, a medium for people to connect and interact. There are such existing frameworks that can be set up in a day. This allows you to collaborate with citizens to solve community issues and develop new ideas.
Listening is where you cull the ideas. Also, people will only participate if they know they are being listened to, so, be active in your listening: regularly and frequently check out the ideas and respond to them. Comment on the ideas, even if it’s a simple, “hey, nice idea!”
Taking in ideas is one thing, but make sure you have a way to prioritize their importance. Have a voting system in place for people to vote up ideas and get a sense of what is most important to the community. Showcase those ideas.
Take action and put those plans into place! That is, after all, what this is all about. And then, complete the circle: show everyone who participated in making that idea happen – even by clicking a vote button – that they helped build something great. This will encourage even more great ideas.
Want to know more? You can request to speak to someone and they can even provide demo of a citizensourcing framework as discussed above, or check out the related articles I’ve posted below.
- Citizensourcing: Building a Next-Gen Government
- Citizen Engagement in a Web 2.0 World
- Introducing CivicIdeas™