Citizen engagement is always a top priority for governments, and a high level of citizen engagement is considered an indicator of 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 citizens are informed about their decisions and directions, and request consultation from power holders. Here, a voice is heard but with no ‘muscle’ – no real change or right to decide.

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

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

Crowdsourcing is an effective tool for citizen participation. It 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, customer centricity by involving large numbers of people. It has real benefitst as a business model.

It works by having an individual, organisation, or a private business propose to a group of individuals of varying knowledge and different interests.

Collecting customer feedback via ‘traditional’ methods, including websites, long emails and phone calls, is no longer relevant to our smart era, nor convenient to the smart customer. Rather, social media and services like WhatsApp have became more convenient channels.

Most crowdsourcing solutions include the following four steps:

1. Providing a mobile application (customised 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 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 corrective action and address the issue within a well-defined timeframe.

4. Informing the end user (the customer) with the update and sustain customer satisfaction.


‘Crowdsensing’, meanwhile, 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 a flavour of IoT ( Internet of Things).

5. Use the power of data to analyse the customer voice with other complaints from the same location and correlate customer demographic information with customer insights.

6. To maintain proactivity, innovative IoT methods are used to monitor the location and sustain the solution.