This thesis begins with the premise that the world has become a more dangerous and complicated place due to the spread of terrorism, increasingly damaging weather events, and other threats to national and economic security. These threats (in their broadest sense) have become more diffuse, and the challenges government faces to combat them more complicated. It may not be, at the end of the day, reasonable to expect government to address the entire threat landscape with existing resources alone and leave the public at large essentially unaffected, or perhaps more importantly, uninvolved.
The conditions for tapping into citizens’ intellectual capacity for problem-solving, however, may not be present. This thesis explores the potential of crowdsourcing for this purpose, examining cases in various disciplines to discover what has worked well and what has not. A principal focus of the research is crowdsourcing experiments and engagement models, and the leveraging of technology in these pursuits. This thesis advances the hypothesis that, within the body of crowdsourcing and engagement models, a combination of ideas, examples, approaches, and successes exists that demonstrates potential utility for the homeland security field.
This research may also help contribute to the discourse and literature by providing a theoretical policy framework that embraces non-traditional approaches to meeting identified homeland security objectives that are not limited by the boundaries of existing models or policies. It may help open new pathways to civic engagement or create the conditions in which that engagement can thrive.