Crowdsourcing Dynamically Changing Government-Citizen Relations

Crowdsourcing is drastically changing how governments and citizens interact worldwide. In recent years, initiatives have launched in countries as geographically and culturally disparate as Iceland and India in an effort to facilitate good governance and to reduce corruption. The result – a fresh and innovative spin on the government’s relationship with the people.

Here are a few of the most compelling such initiatives:

IPaidABribe.Com: Launched by Ramesh and Swati Ramanathan of the Janaagraha non-profit organization in Bangalore, the website allows citizens to anonymously post reports about the bribes that they have paid to government and company officials. So far, 22,493 bribe posts worth 833,033,890 rupees have been reported in India. The project has also “gone global,” already boasting partner websites in Kenya, Greece, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Morocco, Kosovo, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

The latest launch – just this week in Azerbaijan – should prove interesting. Although there is a demonstrated need for the project, which gathered 100 likes on Facebook in roughly half a day without any ads, initially the public seems a bit fearful of posting on the website. Let’s hope the project quickly gains traction. Partner websites will also open in South Africa, Tunisia, Hungary, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Syria and Liberia.

OpenMinistry.Info: Launched by the Finnish government, the website allows registered voters in Finland to propose new laws and legislative initiatives. If any submitted proposal is backed by 50,000 citizens or more within six months, the Finnish parliament must review the initiative.

Stjórnlagaráð: In 2011, a group of Icelandic citizens decided to compile a new constitution after the financial collapse in 2008 – one that would create greater checks and balances in the system. The document was posted on Facebook and Twitter, where citizens offered suggestions and comments. The crowdsourced constitution was later
presented to the Icelandic parliament.

Challenge.Gov: Launched by the U.S. government, the website features “challenges,” or difficult tasks, facing any specific sector. Interested citizens can log on, propose their solutions, discuss tabled issues, and show their support. Rewards are offered to contributors when a task is solved.

These are just a few of the crowdsourcing initiatives that aim to reshape the government-citizen dynamic. And this is just the beginning.

Not only are governments across the world discovering that they need to ensure a greater presence online to keep up with their constituents, but the public itself is beginning to demand from their governments the greater interactivity, the more streamlined civic services, and the more rapid and open dialogue that is afforded by this new media space.

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