Citizen Engagement: Crowdsensing is the Next Generation of Crowdsourcing


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Citizen engagement is always a top priority for governments, and the high level of citizen engagement is considered as an indicator of being a developed country.

The ladder of participation introduced by Sherry R Arnstein in 1969 shows three different zones of citizen participation. The two bottom rungs describe a zone of non-participation where governments are manipulating different ways to cure and educate participants instead of enabling and empowering citizens to participate.

The second zone is where governments allow citizens to have a voice and be heard. Informing and consultation are the rungs where governments inform citizens about their decisions and directions and request consultation from powerholders and citizens. Here a voice is heard but with no muscles, with no real change or right to decide.

The third zone represent the highest level of power, where the relationship between governments and citizens is more of a partnership and the level of citizen control is developed with increased degrees of decision-making.

Ladder of citizen engagement

Governments around the world have experienced one or more of the stages above; from informing to empowering; from providing citizens with objective information on the government plans to the highest possible level of customer engagement where the government opens all doors to hear customers’ voices (suggestions and complaints) that can drive the change.

Crowdsourcing: An Effective Tool for Citizen Participation

Crowdsourcing first appeared as a business practice in which an activity is outsourced to the end customers or the crowd. The word crowdsourcing also reflects efficiency by involving a low-cost solution, the customer centricity by involving large numbers of people and the fact that it has a benefit as a business model.

Crowdsourcing is a type of smart/online activity in which an individual, organization or a private business proposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge and different interests, through a call to the contact center, a text message, or even a photo or a video. It is completely a voluntary work of undertaking a certain task.

Crowdsourcing is a practice that should complement the efforts of building smart cities. It is a tool that ensures services are provided in a satisfactory manner and the element of smartness with both citizens and cities.

Collecting customer feedback via traditional methods, including websites, long emails, and phone calls, are no longer relevant to our smart era nor convenient to the smart customer. Rather, social media, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook became more convenient channels for customers and not for governments.

Most Crowdsourcing solutions include the following four steps:

  1. Providing a mobile application (customized to meet different needs and scenarios) to gather information (customers’ complaints or feedback) from individuals and public or private parties.
  2. To properly solve the problem in a very systematic manner, the application will be equipped with tools to identify the location and assign the issue to the concerned department.
  3. The concerned department will take a corrective action and address the issue within a well-defined timeline.
  4. Informing the end user (the customer) with the update and sustain customer satisfaction.

Crowdsensing = Crowdsourcing + Analytics + IoT.

Crowdsensing is simply the next generation of Crowdsourcing, where you add two more components to the above-mentioned steps in order to back your solution with the Analytics arm and the IoT flavor.

  1. Use the power of data to analyze the customer voice with other complaints from the same location and correlate customer demographic information with customer insights.
  2. To sustain the solution and maintain proactivity, innovative IoT solutions are used to monitor the location and sustain the solution.

Concisely, public and private sector need to consider and focus on strengthening the citizen engagement. In fact, the engagement is the key, either by using normal pen and paper or through the latest crowdsourcing technology. Putting your customers and citizens in the middle of your service design. Citizen engagement is not just listening to the customer’s voice but also studying citizen preferences and working to meet and exceed their expectations.

Ahmed Aly
Prime Minister's Office UAE
Ahmed is a a Customer Experience Expert with long history of delivering a high standard of CX in UAE (16+ years of experience). He is currently offering his knowledge to the Prime Minister's Office of UAE in the role of Senior Consultant. Ahmed has completed his PhD in IBS-UTM (International Business School - Universiti Teknologi Malaysia) and holds MBA degree from the University of Atlanta in USA and Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Engineering from Cairo University of Egypt. His PhD thesis is Data Driven Customer Experience and the Roadmap to deliver Happiness.


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