Crowdsourcing for Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Developments in public collaboration with governments is going to get a lot more interesting in 2010. A new $1 million prize, crowdsourcing and Apps on the horizon could possibly transform the meaning of collaborating with governments. From The US government requesting Twitter to stay open during the Iran protests to the impact of social media on Obama's election, we are just at the beginning.

It isn't very often that that the British Conservative party is interested in harnessing 'the collective wisdom of the British people.' But in one of the boldest crowd-sourcing attempts in history, they are opening up a $1 million GBP contest.

"There are currently no technological platforms that enable in-depth online collaboration on the scale required by government – this prize is a good and cost-effective way of getting one."

We keep a list of the best crowdsourcing platforms available and think many of them are truly excellent- however, the breadth and scope of what the government is spectacularily broad and slightly unclear.

Conservative leader Hunt said "Look at the U-turns over childcare vouchers, over the 10p tax, over the NHS IT system. It is crazy that these things have gone wrong when you've got lots and lots of retired health professionals, retired policemen, people in the teaching profession, who have huge knowledge and expertise and had they been able to contribute better to the policymaking process we could have avoided some of these problems."

However, on the other side, Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrats' spokeswoman, said: "This prize is clearly a publicity stunt and a total waste of taxpayers' money. There are already a multitude of ways to communicate with large numbers of people online, from Facebook to discussion groups. "Maybe the Tories are so out of touch they don't know what's out there, but they shouldn't waste £1m of public money reinventing the wheel."

Once the scope of the prize is known in more detail, the Conservatives appear to be correct. It is laughable that Facebook has the functionality (perhaps one of their Applications could!) to achieve even a cursory look at what the Government is trying to do.

One new and hot solution comes from the world of iPhone Apps which somehow seem to be conquering all of our technical solutions! City Sourced is:

"a real time mobile civic engagement tool. City Sourced provides a free, simple, and intuitive tool empowering citizens to identify civil issues (pot-holes, graffiti, trash, snow removal, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution; an opportunity for government to use technology to save money and improve accountability to those they govern; and a positive, collaborative platform for real action."

Although not the full solution the Brits are after, it is a fantastic start. Here is how simple it is going to be:

 Screenshot of iPhone application to people to report to the government.


- What are the odds that City Sourced was analyzed by the British Government before announcing their $1 million reward?
- How can we share these collaborative tools so that they are used more pervasively. Both of these potential solutions sound so fantastic, but of course unlikely that either will make any sort of realistic change.
- Google just released the ability to visualize all of their/your data in a simple fashion (Fusion Tools)(Similar to IBM's Many Eyes). But unless they find a way to grab every thing similar to what you are doing, chances are it won't do much good. For example, if they grabbed data from the UK's project and City Sourced...
- We, like countless others show and share all of our techniques, exercises, software and more. Our Collaborative Companies Mind Map, Meebo (see the bar at the bottom!), Twitter and Delicious integrations are probably the most connected pieces we offer even though the content we provide for free is infinitely more interesting, effective and valuable.
- What are your ways of bringing everything together? How much of a prize would be have to offer to get every company just to participate in our collaboration leadership?