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Citizen Roles in Civic Problem-Solving and Innovation

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Just as companies in the private sector benefit from engaging with their customers in innovation, government can benefit from collaborative engagement with citizens to solve civic problems.

Satish Nambisan, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management at the Lubar School of Business, authored a recent research report on the topic for the IBM Center for the Business of Government.  He points to the availability of new technologies, including social media, that have not only lowered the cost of collaboration, but reduced the “distance” between government agencies and citizens.

“Citizens can be involved in not just identifying and reporting civic problems but in conceptualizing, designing and developing, and implementing solutions as well,” according to Nambisan, who cites the success of recent citizen-government initiatives in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.

With technology as the “enabler,” the role of the citizen in public services can evolve from that of a passive beneficiary to a co-creator in civic innovation and problem solving, he says.

Nambisan contributed a recent opinion column on “Citizen Roles in Civic Problem-Solving and Innovation” in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.