Home Britain’s Conservative Party Offers £1 Million Prize for New Crowdsourcing Platform

Britain’s Conservative Party Offers £1 Million Prize for New Crowdsourcing Platform

Britain’s Conservative Party plans to offer a £1 million taxpayer-funded prize for a website that can “harness the wisdom” of voters. The price will be given to the team that develops a platform that enables large groups of people to come together online to solve common problems and develop new policies. According to the Guardian, some of the ideas for this site include services that help to identify wasteful government spending or rate the quality of schools and hospitals. It is worth noting, though, that the Conservatives will only give this prize away if they win the 2010 elections.

Clearly, this move is meant to generate some excitement for the Tories in the upcoming elections, especially given that they haven’t been in power since Tony Blair took office in 1997.

A Great Idea or a Waste of Taxpayer Money?

Looking beyond the politics of this proposal, this idea clearly has something going for it. Jeremy Hunt, the U.K.’s shadow culture secretary, told the Guardian that, “there are currently no technological platforms that enable in-depth online collaboration on the scale required by government.”

One could argue, however, as the Liberal Democrat’s spokeswoman Jenny Willott does, that there are already lots of ways for people to collaborate and communicate online and that this is simply a waste of taxpayer money. Willott argues that sites like Facebook already allow voters to communicate with each other and the government. As we pointed out earlier this month, however, Facebook petitions can be manipulated rather easily.

In the U.S., crowdsourced projects like this have generally been funded by non-profits. ProPublica, for example, recently launched a project that allows citizens to track how the stimulus money is being spent.

Image Credit: Flickr user ohadweb

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