"Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call."I like this idea a lot. It appeals as a compromise between continuing development in isolation within an organisation where innovation can become stilted and soured (seeinstitutional memory), and the outright waste of money by passing everything into the commercial environment where money has to be more important than anything else.
I would like to explore the dynamics of mixing the desires of the various police web managers to work collaboratively; the wider scoping of a barcamp and the ultimate public collaboration of crowdsourcing. Maybe a group like the web managers would be better engaged in providing organisational support and momentum in creating the appropriate environment for effective police barcamps and crowdsourcing (and then taking part) than trying to work together initially on their own.
This leads to to considering how an open environment which includes the public can work in developing resources to improve police IT and web systems. Public automatically includes criminals and those others who would love to disrupt developments. This aspect can be taken positively or negatively and I would hope that the potential benefits would outweigh the overly protective attitude police forces traditionally have to all things new (see institutional memory again!).
What would the environment look like?
I see two separate areas to consider.
1. The places where people discuss ideas, present concepts and agree policy both in meetings, barcamps, blogs, websites, Twitter etc.
2. The point where code and graphics are created, databased and where web projects are incubated.
The first is just words and ideas and something anyone can already freely get involved in anyway but my concern is when the words start turning into prototype sites and real development. How can access to developing code and sites be both open and accessible and also controlled and kept safe from rogue code and scripts? I think this is the key area the web managers could assist in - the gatekeepers of the code, controlling the interface between the experiments and proposals from the wider collaborative communities and the secure, safe environment where the development is tweeked, tested and perfected prior to first release.
This is an area where Google or Mozilla can surely assist us? They manage the fine line between mass collaboration which includes the public and the end products.
(Originally posted on August 8, 2010)