Tories to invite public opinion in online consultation

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Tories to invite public opinion in online consultation

Karl Flinders

The Conservative Party is planning to offer a prize of £1m to a software developer who can create a web platform to engage the public in the policy-making process.

The web platform would use crowdsourcing to test out government policy, including tackling government waste, designing a local planning strategy, finding the best school or avoiding roadworks.

"This online platform will then be used by a future Conservative government to throw open the policy-making process to the public and harness the wisdom of the crowd so that the public can collaborate to improve government policy," said the Conservatives.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said the party believes that "the collective wisdom of the British people is much greater than that of a bunch of politicians or so-called experts".

He added that technology exists today that allows us to harness that wisdom like never before.

Public input

Crowdsourcing is the process of outsourcing work such as consultancy, which is usually carried out internally, to the community. The web makes this possible because millions of people can provide their opinions.

Hunt said policy has often been ill thought through, with disastrous consequences. "When formulating and implementing policy, why should we not listen to the hundreds of thousands of experts out there?"

The Tories seem keen on crowdsourcing as an efficient way of garnering public opinion. The party last month used crowdsourcing methods to gather feedback on a leaked draft government IT report.

The party put the report on the site makeitbetter.org.uk. It said, "The government hopes this report will prove that it can make efficiency savings to deal with the spiralling debt crisis, and can finally get to grips with the systemic failures in public sector IT procurement over the past decade. As you will see, the report achieves none of these things."

The Conservatives invited members of the public to share their opinion on each section of the report using a commenting facility.

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