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by Art Verdiano

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet. Most businesses use it to gain feedback on a particular product or service, or as part of a business feasibility study.

We can thus say that the landscape for complaints, feedbacks, or suggestions have drastically changed. Although we still have “suggestion boxes” found at most offices, which people are not sure if they are read or not, we can use email or the Internet to voice out what we want to say. The same can be screenshot as proof that we did send a correspondence and is now accepted as a formal way of communication.

There really are advantages of using crowdsourcing especially among government projects or even policy making. This practice is being used in Western countries and in its face, it is a good practice of democracy. It reduces cost of conducting formal hearings and reaches out to more people. House-to-house surveys can be done away with and instead use the Internet to ask for suggestions. It can speed-up project timelines as the need for consultation can happen without face-to-face engagement. All you need is a poll, survey form, or a set of questionnaires where citizens can easily access online.

But the most important thing I see about crowdsourcing is tapping the intelligence of the community. Let us admit it: government employees though competent, does not possess all the knowledge. There are citizens who are really smart, either inherently or thru experience, who can suggest and help solve a particular issue or project. They just don’t want to work for the government. And there is what we call “local knowledge.” It is different to be on “ground zero” when it comes to tackling a particular issue. Local knowledge is knowing the intricacies and/or complications within a locality like customs, traditions, and even attitudes in a community. Having first hand knowledge of such things eases future complications.

Another advantage will be the feeling of the participants that they contributed something to a project. Thus, it invokes a sense of belonginess and responsibility. Having contributed something makes us feel part of something larger and we then become a solution and not part of the problem.

Crowdsourcing is a good way for the government to have community engagement aside from the other benefits mentioned above. It is cost-effective and builds a more meaningful relationship with the citizenry. Simple questions like how we can improve garbage collection in a barangay or maintain peace and order thereat can be asked by village chiefs within his/her jurisdiction. If followed-up correctly, we will have barangays which has a government and citizens understanding each other more clearly.

I am sure that there is so much more application for crowdsourcing. It is time we implement this on our communities.


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