Active Citizen Engagement through Ideas Crowdsourcing

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Increasingly, governments around the world are looking at ways to engage their citizens in policy making. Through the solicitation of citizen’s inputs, governments hope to build trust and garner support in new public policies that they intend to launch.

At the same time, governments also acknowledge their limited resources and desire to tap on the collective wisdom of their citizens (i.e. crowdsourcing) for a cost-effective way to generate and build good ideas.

As such, Info-communication Development Agency of Singapore (IDA) has engaged Ecquaria to build eCitizens Ideas!, a whole-of-government crowdsourcing portal to seek ideas and solutions from citizens based on the challenges and events created by the government agencies.

One-stop knowledge harvesting platform for whole-of-government

eCitizen Ideas! encourages partnership between citizens and government agencies through crowdsourcing. While IDA is the main administrator of the system, every government agency can reach out to the public by throwing ‘Challenges’.

eCitizen Ideas! is a centralised platform for all Challenges. As such, it consolidates all the ideas and data in a single platform. The collected data can be transformed into useful insights using the real-time analytics and reporting tools. This helps the Singapore government to understand their citizens better

Building relationships through citizen engagement

It is essential to have a well-designed citizen engagement that genuinely aims to understand and involve citizens. A good and holistic citizen engagement practice results in successful implementation of initiatives and achievements of social outcomes.

eCitizens Ideas! provides an all-rounded approach to citizen engagement, from data insights to ideas generation.

Data consolidated on a single platform provides both high-level insights as well as detailed analysis. Building on Ecquaria E-Government Platform (EGP), administrators can drill down to the specifics of each Challenge and agencies can understand the citizens’ concerns better.

The new crowdsourcing portal takes an all-rounded approach to citizen engagement, including user-recommended Challenges. This feature allows citizens to highlight issues that are on the ground, maximise resources and pave the way for active two-way communication between the Singapore government and the public.

Also, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are incorporated into the Challenges to facilitate discussion and develop quality ideas. One of the main pitfalls of crowdsourcing is underdeveloped ideas. Introducing a panel of SMEs into the workflow provides useful subject-related information and encourages critical thinking that further develops good ideas.

Various complex workflows in a single platform

While incorporating SMEs into the Challenges improve the quality of the ideas, it also increases the complexity of the workflow. eCitizen Ideas! is designed to ensure that seamless end-to-end management of Ideas, Challenges, Users etc.

In addition, eCitizen Ideas! is a portal for the whole-of-government crowdsourcing activities. The different modus operandi of each agency and varying nature of the Challenges directs the need for multiple complex workflows.

The EGP Government Centre provides flexible administrative settings that provide administrators the flexibility to configure the workflow processes without any programming. The workflow is not restricted to what was established during the development of the portal, allowing them to adapt quickly to any changes.

Future-Proofing with Technology Innovations

Technology innovations like Microservices and Docker are used to deploy eCitizen Ideas!. This ensures business agility in terms of flexible application deployment and scalability.

The Microservices approach of deploying applications decomposes each application into smaller services. This enables the independent scaling of individual services such as ‘Idea Submission’ instead of the entire eCitizen Ideas!. One can expect flexible service deployment and patching with minimum downtime.

The Docker platform allows developers to build, ship and run applications anywhere. As a result, with Docker, eCitizen Ideas! is not tied to any government hosting infrastructure and can be easily migrated to new government hosting infrastructure when the need arises. In addition, the Docker platform provides isolation between containers so that software changes are less disruptive than in traditional software models.

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