Beth Simone Noveck for the Policy Network: The Rise of the Citizen Expert

Andrew Young — February 10, 2016

Last week, the Policy Network Observatory published a new essay by Network chair Beth Simone Noveck on “The Rise of the Citizen Expert.” Noveck’s piece explores the move from “open call” crowdsourcing – which “fails to match individuals to what matters to them, or, in this case, match people to problems based on what they can do” – to smarter crowdsourcing efforts that match demand to supply of expertise.

For example: “If a city really wants to improve the chances of crafting a workable plan for bike lanes, it should be able to reach out to urban planners, transportation engineers, cyclists, and cab drivers and offer them ways to participate meaningfully. When a public organisation needs hands on help from techies to build better websites or data crunching from data scientists, it needs to be able to connect”

Noveck goes on to make five policy recommendations based on the need of “taking citizen expertise seriously,” including updating “the legal frameworks that dictate how governments get expertise using new technology” and building “a wider variety of matching tools to tap talent, especially talent within the public service, reliably in the public interest.”

She concludes:

“Although in many places, we enjoy well-functioning government institutions run by competent professionals, the failure to take advantage of new data-rich tools to enable government to reliably get expertise – credentialed, skilled and experiential – imposes a significant opportunity cost. The greatest challenge of our time is to create political institutions innovative enough to tackle increasingly complex issues from ensuring economic stability to stopping terrorism to saving the planet. Closed-door ways of working rob us of the innovative ideas, robust talents, hard work, and diverse perspectives that are vital to making government more effective.”

Read more here.