When the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) wanted to help Syrian war victims and the other 10.5 million refugees and 42.5 million forcibly displaced people the agency serves get better access to their services, they did what many large bureaucracies do: Hire an outside vendor. But in the UNHCR’s case, they hired an outside vendor with a twist. They crowdsourced.
Using a system from analytics and innovation management firm Spigit, the agency launched a crowdsourcing initiative called UNHCR Ideas which solicited ideas from employees, partners, and academic partners around the world about how to improve access to the agency’s services. Instead of doing a top-down review of how services functioned in the field, UN leadership decided to reverse the process and crowdsource improvements in their access and logistics protocols. Through the Spigit software package, researchers at the UN were able to identify broad trends and common complaint issues that the agency could remedy.
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