New tools and technologies are changing the way that governments interact with their citizens. As public sector organizations seek to become more digital by moving more services online, citizens have new opportunities to engage with their governments on multiple levels. At a surface level, citizens can perform tasks such as renewing a driver’s license, pay parking fines, claim tax credits and more. At a much deeper level, however, digital initiatives afford citizens the opportunity to interact with government in a much more meaningful way, from voicing their opinions on public issues to sharing innovative ideas. The idea of “crowdsourcing,” or soliciting input from citizens online, is perhaps the most clear example of this, and it’s taking hold in governments around the world. Today I’d like to share a few examples of governments that are leading the way in crowdsourcing initiatives.
Finland recently invited the public to develop new laws that would ultimately be voted on by the nation’s parliament. As David Meyer describes in this GigaOm article, the “citizens’ initiative” would require potential laws to get 50,000 signatures from other citizens before coming to a vote, and could be a model for other countries. Iceland is also taking steps to empower its citizens through the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The nation recently asked residents for feedback and comments on a new constitution proposal, and according to John Koetsier of VentureBeat, 69.5 percent voted to present it as the basis of the new constitution.
Canada’s city of Brampton is also using technology to connect citizens and government through a cloud-based mobile application. Using the app, city officials track attendance at city events and where attendees live, in order to attract more people who live in underrepresented parts of the city. With this insight, the city of Brampton has been able to focus on areas where engagement is lower and more specifically target their efforts. You can learn more about the effort in this case study.
As more governments look to online and mobile technologies, citizens will have even more opportunities to interact with government on a variety of different levels. It’s an exciting space to watch, and I look forward to following this trend as it continues to develop!
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