Crowdsourcing Libary Tool Challenges London Residents to Make Decisions

Published Aug-24-15

Breakthrough:
Novel online crowdsourcing tools that allow communities to become more involved in the design and planning of their local services.

Company:
London Borough of Lambeth/White October, United Kingdom

The Story:

Crowdsourcing Libary Tool Challenges London Residents to Make Decisions Crowdsourcing initiatives are allowing members of the public to have more of a say in matters affecting their communities. Through contests, games, votes and web portals, they can directly influence some of the policies of their local authorities.

For example, the London Borough of Lambeth, a district in the center of the UK capital has devised ingenious ways to solicit input from its residents - online tools.

Run Your Own Library

The first of these was the Lambeth Library Challenge. It allowed residents of any age to run a virtual library, deciding on such things as how much money to spend on staff, books, running costs, repairs, electronic materials, cleaning services and much more. Users could spend the budget how they wished, and as they did so the immersive and interactive game responded, showing the effects of their buying decisions. Much more than just a game, the tool created a better dialogue between the local council and library users.

Adrian Smith, Director of Commissioning at Lambeth Council, said: "Quite simply the challenge has changed and improved the way we work with our library users".

The tool, designed by digital agency White October is certainly more fun than sitting in a public meeting in some rickety old community center.

How Would You Manage a Park?

Following on from the success of this crowdsourcing project and continuing with the council's move away from a top down approach, the Lambeth Parks Challenge was launched.

The idea is very similar to the library challenge. Residents go to the specially created website to create their own park. They are given a budget and are free to design, manage, plant and cultivate a park in any way they see fit.

By asking users where they would spend their money, officials glean valuable insights into people's preferences. The council has said that the virtual designs and website comments will be used to contribute to future parks planning.

These games also give residents genuine insights into how much it costs to run a park or a library. A consequence of this is more informed discussions between the public and officials about where to allocate funds and what the services should look like in the future.

Diversity

A further bonus is that the use of technology is bringing in younger generations who otherwise might not be too bothered to play a part in the running of their communities. Or at least, not too bothered to find the time to fill in surveys and questionnaires or turn up to meetings. Thus the influx of ideas is coming from a more diverse base.

The UK is Watching

Following on from the success of Lambeth's crowdsourcing initiatives, other local councils in the UK are said to be keen to adopt similar approaches for consultation with their communities, giving ordinary people a greater stake in decision-making processes.

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