Expert Opinion


Above image: Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) 'A Ladder Of Citizen Participation', Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224 (

Above image: Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) 'A Ladder Of Citizen Participation', Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224 (

EXCLUSIVE - Citizen engagement through crowdsourcing and crowdsensing

Citizen engagement is always a top priority for governments, and a high level of citizen engagement is considered to be 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 allows 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 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, 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, organisation 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 feedbacks 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, 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 (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 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.

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 sustain the solution and maintain proactivity, innovative IoT solutions are used to monitor the location and sustain the solution.

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