In this Issue: Crowdsourcing legislation

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Lawmakers are seeking input online from citizens to gather their thoughts and ideas on proposed legislation. And why not? Citizen-driven legislation has been said to help balance power and hold elected officials accountable while advancing communication about important issues.Could crowdsourcing be the future of legislation? And are your city managers, planning departments or other government agents next in line to use this method of communication in an effort to gain a better understanding of what citizens want? For more information on crowdsourcing citizens to drive priorities, keep reading.Letting your citizens take the lead

Crowdsourcing is by no means a new concept. It has been used for fundraising, idea generation and overall problem-solving for some time now. However, the use of crowdsourcing to guide legislation is taking hold and digital platforms, such as Wikispaces® or GitHub®, are gaining traction.

  • Obtain feedback about laws: Although typically the job of lawmakers, crowdsourcing can be a great way to propose laws and obtain feedback about them. Crowdsourcing expert and founder of Yegii®, Inc. Trond Undheim says this method is certainly a viable tool to help legislators understand what constituents are most passionate about, and crowdsourcing offers lawmakers the opportunity to hear from those they wouldn’t necessarily think of. And when designing laws, the more feedback you can get, the better, right?
  • Let citizens propose their own laws: South of the border,Los Angeles Assemblyman Mike Gatto created a WikiSpaces® account to experiment with citizens drafting their own legislation. Users were able to simply log-in, make changes to a bill and offer suggested improvements—all under the policing of peers. Although only done as an experiment, Gatto plans on using this process in the future to see a bill through California’s entire legislative process. This method of seeking public opinion also keeps special interest groups from dominating the conversation.
  • Crowdsource with fellow agencies: Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to be reserved just for citizens. Hold a crowdsourcing summit where elected officials, planning departments and administrators can share information, review each other’s ideas and provide potential solutions. After all, two heads (or heads of departments) are certainly better than one.

Now that you have a few ideas on how you can crowdsource legislation, it’s time to discuss how you’ll get your citizens engaged and participating. Promote the process online via social media and provide tangible rewards for those who participate. Stylus pens, screen sweeps or note paper mouse pads are good giveaways to boost brand awareness. Or ask local agencies to help with promotion by having them hold draws for participant engagement—a messenger bag or folding Bluetooth® keyboard are great prizes.

Remember, crowdsourcing can be a worthwhile way to help you better understand exactly what it is your citizens want. We think this tool is here to stay, so why not be a thought leader and give it a try?

 

DeMoss, Dustin. “Can Crowdsourced Government Happen In The U.S.?”  StackStreet. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 11 Sept. 2014.

Heaton, Brian. “Is Crowdsourcing the Future for Legislation?” Govtech. N.p., 02 July 2014. Web. Retrieved 11 Sept. 2014.

Heaton, Brian. “California Experiments with Crowdsourced Legislation.”  Govtech. N.p., 18 Mar. 2014. Web. Retrieved 11 Sept. 2014.

Hochmuth, Colby. “A future where ‘the crowd’ helps solve government problems.” FedScoop. N.p., 20 Aug. 2013. Web. Retrieved 11 Sept. 2014.


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