Governance as Platform: The Power of Crowds and Grassroots Democracy

By Aliu A. Onifade

The introduction of government as a platform has sparked both political and academic debates about the role of government, in the creation of platforms that enables the growth of citizens and businesses in society (O’Reilly, 2011).

The major discussions are on the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in promoting and actualizing this platform thinking.

However, it was argued that the actualization of such platform thinking will not only require the use of ICT but also involve the creation of new institutions that are completely different from the way traditional governmental institutions are organized (Loosermoore, 2018).

Introduction: Governance as a platform

Governance as a platform is a situation of providing essential services to its community, thereby, promoting innovation within and outside the government (O’Reilly, 2011).

Similarly, it is government’s responsibility to provide platforms, on which citizens and businesses thrive.

However, since the introduction of the concept of “Governance as a platform” by O’Reilly, other interpretation deviates from the initial ideas that were introduced.

For instance,  Loosemore (2018) argued that “governance as a platform” goes beyond the concept of providing the means for citizens to assess government processes and services.

But also involves the creation of new “public institutions whose culture, practice, models, skillset, ways of working, ways of thinking are native to the Internet era, not divergent to it”.

Strategies to achieve governance as a platform of thinking

Governance as a platform provides the foundation for government and non-governmental agencies to collaborate more effectively.

A lot of research work is getting conducted on the platform approach which has been focused on the use of ICT as the primary facilitator for the accomplishment of the platform thinking.

Traditional approaches to e-democracy have seen the citizens as consumers of services while the production and management of such services have been the sole responsibility of the government.

However, a collaboration between the different actors will facilitate the changes needed for successful implementation of the platform of thinking.

Impacts of grassroots movements and power of crowds

Firstly, there are several grassroots movements today at different levels including international and local organisations. The reasons for the formation of these organisations varies across the different organisation.

Further more, Grassroots movements and crowds can provide the means of effective utilisation of human resources for greater societal good. Grassroots movements can inspire the cultural change needed to deliver platform thinking.

By aligning the expectations of the citizens with the responsibilities of the government in terms of service delivery, the power of the crowd can be fully harnessed to facilitate more efficient and effective public service delivery. 

Utilization of the crowd to drive change in the society through active participation and collaboration will complement existing ICT infrastructure and result in increased societal productivity for the society at large.

Last but not least, the government can also ensure the sustainability of policies and programs. By sensitising its citizens through various grassroots organisations government can ensure the sustainability.

Conclusion

To conclude, innovation in government design should move away from the traditional way of running a government. Moreover, to actualize governance as a platform for thinking, effective utilisation of human and technological resources is needed (Farrell, 2012).

Bibliography

O’Reilly, T “Government as a Platform,” Innov. Technol. Gov. Glob., vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 13–40, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/INOV_a_00056 On 8 November 2020

Loosemore, T (2018 ) Making government as a platform real, Public Digital. Retrieved from https://public.digital/2018/09/25/making-government-as-a-platform-real On 8 November 2020

Farrell, D (2012) Government designed for new times, Number 1 | McKinsey. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/government-designed-for-new-times-number-1. On 9 November 2020