Crowdsourcing is a means of engaging one or more self-selected individuals who volunteer to work on a project. This project can be anything that can be completed online. For example, fashion design, engineering designs, open source software development, providng product of service support on forums. Crowdsourcing is always unpaid but some rewards might be offered such as having one's name placed on the chosen design, being offered vouchers, being recognised as top contributor, or simply having the satisfaction of being able to contribute something of value.
"Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers." - Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson, 2006 Wired
One example where crowdsourcing is used by some councils is found in the freely dowloadable app for Android and iPhone, SnapSendSolve, to engage the public in identifying and reporting problems.