Crowdsourcing: A Lesson From Finland

Northern Lights in Oulu, FinlandWhile, some communities have not even launched their first government crowdsourcing initiative, the Finnish government and its citizens have a lot to teach us. They’ve been at the forefront of digital citizen engagement and it’s helping them out a great deal: in improving their policies, in learning more about the public, and in changing public sentiment about the government.

Numerous organizations and ministries from within the Finnish government have received recognition for their pioneering civic engagement efforts through the use of crowdsourcing in the past several years. Their citizens have influenced copyright law, environmental policy, and more.

In a recent example, Finland introduced a legislative crowdsourcing program that was used to establish a new off-road traffic law. The off-road traffic law, which is normally regulated by the Finnish Ministry of Environment, addressed all motor-operated traffic on rough terrain besides regular streets, affecting Finnish citizens who own an ATV or a snowmobile. When there are currently about 100,000 registered snowmobiles in Finland and about 20,000 ATVs, one can be pretty certain that the public would have something to say. And nearly 800 users ended up joining the conversation.

Now, in a new IdeaScale community, the government just completed a call for public feedback on apartment regulations and governance. This feedback will be evaluated by researchers and will help inform changes in the future.

But most importantly, with each subsequent initiative, the Finnish government has learned a great deal and put that knowledge into optimizing the next program. In fact, their projects often double as research so that in addition to improving government, they improve their understanding of the public.

IdeaScale wants to make sure that it’s as easy for local government to innovate as it is for Finland which is why there’s a new government starter package that includes the software necessary to launch the first campaign and it also includes a half day of strategic support to ensure the program’s success.

What else can we learn from Finland and their engaged citizens?

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