Local authorities are seeing tangible benefits from citizen innovation.

In numerous towns and cities across the world, citizens are having more of a say in sorting out civic problems. Through open innovation and crowdsourcing initiatives thousands of people are not only involved in identifying particular challenges such as pollution, poor water quality and graffiti, but also in designing and implementing the solutions.



Local and regional authorities realize they can’t go it alone and need the smarts of those who have vested interests in the outcomes. The added bonus of these activities is they bring the governed closer to those who govern, making for a more transparent, open society.

In an article in Journal Sentinal, Satish Nambisan, a professor of entrepreneurship and technology management at the Lubar School of Business identified four roles that citizens play in civic innovation and problem solving.

Those four roles are:

Explorer – citizens identify and report emerging problems.

Ideator – here citizens are engaged in the conceptualization of innovative solutions. This can be through crowdsourcing contests or open innovation portals.

Designer – where citizens are engaged in designing and developing solutions to specific problems.

Diffusers – citizens as change agents supporting the adoption of innovations and solutions.

As in the business world where enterprises are actively engaging external sources of knowledge, so local authorities are seeing tangible benefits from their engagement with the crowd.

Examples of citizen innovation include Apps for Democracy, a promotional video for the Canadian Tourism Commission created by members of the public and an ideas contest to help rebuild the economy of Ireland.

Photo credit: Government Technology

Via Idea Connection