Crowdsourcing policies and solutions to wicked problems: case study of crowdsourcing on air quality in European cities
Authors: Kristina Reinsalu, Robert Bjarnason
Abstract: The current world is facing unprecedented crises and wicked problems that need solving. Even if some of them might affect our life more right now and in the short term (e.g., global security crisis, energy crisis, etc.), the biggest challenge for societies for years to come is climate change. Digital solutions have the potential to offer relief and solutions to various problems, including climate challenges, but the biggest concern is still the large gap between policymakers and people's concerns and expectations. Future developments should not only be guided by the technologically feasible but by what is socially desirable and acceptable. Therefore, the citizens’ engagement, particularly digital crowdsourcing, for the design of digital services, as well as policies that affect their lives, is crucial.To understand the usage of crowdsourcing for policy-design purposes, we have piloted a crowdsourcing activity in five European countries on the subject of air quality. To assess the results of the pilot, we use a novel e-participation assessment framework created by the joint effort of the e-Governance Academy and the project partners of the Co-Designing Europe Project . The assessment framework was created based on extensive analyses of e-participation cases from various countries and contexts using the Theory of Change (ToC) methodology. The framework also has a practical checklist which enables any initiator of e-participation - be it from a public authority or from the civil society, to design an e-participation/crowdsourcing activity and assess its impact after completing the case. The aim of this article is, based on theory and practice, to highlight and analyse the biggest challenges, obstacles, and success factors for impactful crowdsourcing, the potential to use the “wisdom of the crowd” to solve wicked problems in society, and the role technology plays in this process.
Keywords: crowdsourcing, digital engagement, impact assessment of e, participation
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