4 Advantages of Online Citizen Engagement

image curtesy of UWW ResNet via flickr

image courtesy of UWW ResNet via flickr

Civic engagement is an age-old democratic concept: getting regular people to participate on an individual or collective level in order to direct the government. It’s also a mandate at almost every level and (at this point) a basic public expectation.

But the tool set is changing from having town hall meetings and rooting through suggestion boxes, to a more social and collaborative set of digital tools that can be accessed anywhere, at any time. Think about it: while voting turnout has shown a downturn, engagement on Twitter has skyrocketed. This has happened for a number of reasons, including a vast difference in content that users are engaging with, but there are also a number of advantages offered by crowd-based, digital platforms that present ease and opportunities to both citizens and organizations.

A 2010 study found that 48% of adult internet users have looked to engage with a public policy or issue online. That number equates to millions upon millions of people who have suggestions to offer, solutions to propose, and valuable insight that could change the course of policy and governing for the better. With crowdsourcing, not only can they share these ideas, but they can vote and comment on the ideas of others and help define the next generation of government.

What’s more, they can do it and offer four distinct advantages over traditional methods of content collection:

Low Cost: In-person meetings, arduous processes of managing hard copy suggestions lead to high costs for the government. Introducing a digital collaboration system for suggestion offers a significant savings to government organizations and the taxpayer.

Rapid Response: Because organizations can receive, parse and forward suggestions so quickly in a digital environment, it is also possible to improve delivery efficiency. Numerous IdeaScale and Ideavibes projects have cut the typical implementation cycle in half.

Transparency: Not only does it make government projects visible, it also allows for collaboration and participation. Citizens can solve one another’s problems, become a resource for another, and stay in contact as each idea progresses.

Expanding Reach: Numerous government organizations utilize crowdsourced citizen engagement solutions like IdeaScale not only to gather ideas, but also to get the word out about different government initiatives and source new advocates for new policies.

If you’d like to learn more about how a crowdsorucing campaign might benefit your organization, please download this white paper by Paul Dombowsky, Founder of Ideavibes and crowd expert, who will explain the potential applications of a crowd campaign.

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