Citizen engagement and collaboration is an area that brings up a lot of arguments. Different opinions exists on how citizen engagement should take place that will later yield to collaboration. Though my focus through this article is to also tackle citizen engagement and collaboration, I will be looking at a major hindrance to arriving at effective collaboration for socio-economic development. Mitigating this hindrance will help to achieve collaboration.
Overtime it has been observed that disputes arise when the language(s) spoken by the parties involved isn’t one language and common speech. This may seem absurd considering individuals who speak the same language have disagreements. While this is true it explains why language can be a unifying factor or otherwise. What I am trying to get at here is termed a ‘Language System’ that ensures that individuals with different backgrounds and point of view work together seamlessly.
A ‘Language System’ is a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalised signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings.
Language is a powerful tool for communication and it is the medium through which several of life’s activities start and end. When groups of people speak a common language the end result is a product created by the collective whole. Each member of the group though unique adds his/her expertise or point of view to achieving the goal at hand.
So how then can one create a language system? This is a topic for another day. My goal here is to outline how a language system can foster collaboration among a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. A well implemented language system can yield collaboration. So also a properly developed and implemented system can help drive collaboration. My focus here is on developing a system that ensures citizen collaboration.
In order to achieve citizen collaboration I will be sharing a system I call ‘Citizen Volunteer Program’ (CVP). Citizen engagement differs from region to region, but we can look at a community and discuss how CVP can generate effective citizen engagement and collaboration.
There are varying discussions on how public and private partnership help nations achieve socio-economic development. For our mini experiment through this publication, I will be looking at implementing CVP in Lagos, Nigeria and the possible engagements it will foster. CVP is an all inclusive program that drives collaboration to achieve economic development.
Can we include regular citizens in the social responsibility discussion in a fair manner? Can we provide a platform that allows citizen engagement on several levels while also giving a reward to those citizens to foster such collaboration? The goal here is to develop a culture of citizen participation in all sectors across Lagos State, Nigeria.
CVP can provide avenues for citizens to be useful within the society and in turn gain a credit rating. These credit ratings will be used to reward the citizen. For instance, a citizen with very good credit rating can get government scholarships for a younger family member still in school. These scholarship is made available as long as the volunteer maintains that credit rating. Other of such benefits for volunteers includes loan programs, primary health care benefits, shopping vouchers/coupons, CVP award/badge of honour, CVP insurance scheme, CVP housing scheme and offset of utility bill.
So what exactly will CVP members be required to do to earn credit ratings? The term Community Service (CS) are the activities required from a CVP member to gain credit ratings. Community Service is a good avenue to encourage collaboration amongst citizens of a state, country or better still community.
The Citizens Volunteer Program matches individuals based on their skillset with relevant public institutions that will need their services. This arrangement is flexible to ensure CVP doesn’t affect their work where they earn a living.
CVP Officer: A CVP Officer engages public institutions to develop or integrate initiatives for sector development and citizen engagement. They oversee the activities of the CVP Supervisors while also ensuring that Volunteers are properly integrated into the Citizens Volunteer Program.
CVP Supervisor: These are individuals who are in charge of ensuring the successful deployment of Volunteers to appropriate public institutions and relevant programs. CVP Supervisors across the state are empowered with identification card (ID) readers that can be connected to smartphones. These ID card readers with the mobile apps will allow for verification of volunteers and allocation of ratings based on the tasks the volunteer has completed. Any supervisor that is caught carrying out illegal activities can face jail time for corrupt practices. The CVP Supervisors report to CVP Officers.
Volunteer: A Volunteer is a citizen of Lagos State that has been properly registered by Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) and CVP. This individual is required to engage the relevant institution posted to and engage in tasks that will earn him/her a credit rating. The Citizen Engagement benefits are only accessible to a Volunteer that has the appropriate credit rating that matches the offered benefits.
This is a two part series, I will be sharing more details on how Citizen Volunteer Program can further help deliver citizen collaboration in the second article. I will look at the system design and technology platforms that will help drive CVP. In the second part, the Web App and the Mobile App will also be designed and prototypes developed.
I would love to know what you think of the ideas shared in this article and your reservations or questions in the comment section below. Big thanks to Michael Adepoju for quality feedback on this article and CVP as a product.