What’s New in Crowdsourcing?

September 15, 2016: In recent weeks we continue to see big name brands tap into the creativity of the crowd for product and service design ideas. In the arts, Beatles fans and Indian citizens contributed footage for new documentaries. Health agencies are using the wisdom of the crowd to find solutions to drug-resistant bacteria and new online platforms help catalog our galaxy. Law enforcement is improving traffic and street safety via crowdsourcing apps; in Oslo a new app is designed and used by children. In an interesting turn of events, crowdsourcing has converted into a system of checks and balances between law enforcement and society. After recent stories of police misconduct in the US, its citizens are now providing data from inside the courthouses to monitor unjust hearings.

Cities & Government

Oslo Is Using A Safe-Street Design App That Crowdsources Ideas From Kids

In three years, if all goes as planned, Oslo, Norway, plans to ban cars in the city center. In the meantime, though, it still isn’t always safe to walk or bike in the area, especially for children headed to school. That’s why a new app, Traffic Agent, “gamifies” safer street design and gets kids involved in improving the streets. Using the app, when kids notice a dangerous situation, they can report it as “secret agents” for the city. Kids helped make it fun: they wanted to pretend to be spies, listen to “mysterious” music, and to be able to send messages to headquarters and each other.

Crowd Sourcing the Vanguard Court Watch Expansion

The last few years we have seen the issue of police misconduct, officer-involved shootings of unarmed men take the headlines.  But behind the scenes these are aided and abetted by unaccountable prosecutors. The court room is the frontline for a lot of these legal battles but for the most part the media do not cover any but the most high profile cases.  The vast majority of trials are not coverage and more than 97 percent of all criminal matters are resolved before even going to trials. The public is unaware of the true nature of criminal and court proceedings. The answer to this is a Court Watch Program.  Starting in 2010, in Yolo County, the Vanguard Court Watch has sent college and other interns into the courthouse to monitor cases and hearings. They enter data into monitor forms and write articles that posted on the Vanguard website.

Newark Police Department solicits traffic concerns with crowdsourced map

People of Newark, you have spoken and the Newark Police Department has listened. NPD crowdsourced traffic concerns from 11 a.m. on Aug. 23 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 26. Some 566 complaints were collected and will be addressed in terms of importance. Complaints with the most votes will get priority. The platform NPD used to create this map is called ArcGIS Online.


Business & Technology

ZTE’s Crowdsourced Devices Include a Sticky Phone, Power Glove

ZTE has narrowed its crowdsourced device submissions down to three, and they include a sticky phone, a waterproof VR headset, and a power glove. Notably missing from the list of top choices for ZTE’s “CSX” project, which will result in Web users picking a gadget for the phone maker to produce next year, were the first and third most popular choices: a phone running the Ubuntu Touch OS and a phone that’s mostly like the Axon 7$399.99 at Amazon but better. But ZTE VP Jeff Yee warned last week that the options would be thinned out by a panel of experts focusing on innovation.

Local Motors launches new division to help big-name manufacturers innovate faster

Local Motors Inc. is creating a new division for its co-creation software in Forth, which will work with big-name manufacturers to help companies innovate and manufacture products faster and connect brands with makers. Forth, which be based in Boulder, Colorado, will work with General Electric Co.’s Genius Link team and Airbus, as well as other companies.
“Other manufacturers can come to Local Motors and use its crowd-sourced platform,” Shelley said. “We’re redoing the way products are developed.”

Does Crowd-Sourcing Designs + Opinions Undermine Designers?

Last month non-profit software brand Mozilla made an unusual announcement, releasing seven possible branding routes for the public to decide its new look. The project is being led by Johnson Banks, which announced the plans for the public to shape the design process back in June.
At first glance it seems like yet another wince-inducing move away from definitive, decisive design. But while Mozilla and Johnson Banks are seeking public opinion, a key difference here is that they’re not seeking the public’s designs. Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks founder, says: “People are getting confused about the difference between calling for designs and open-sourcing for commentary. Some people have even been sending in logos. It’s not a free pitch.”

Ford moves into crowd-sourced shuttle service and bicycle sharing

Pushing forward with its plan to be “both a car company and a mobility company,” Ford on Friday said it’s getting into the crowd-sourced shuttle business and moving into bicycle sharing. The automaker also said it would collaborate more closely with cities around the world to help solve transportation problems. “It’s pretty clear the transportation systems we developed in the last century are at a breaking point,” Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Mark Fields said.

SpaceX crowdsources clues to rocket blast as missions stack up

SpaceX asked witnesses to share video, photos and audio of a launchpad blaze that destroyed a satellite-bearing rocket last week, a mystery that billionaire founder Elon Musk called the most “difficult and complex failure” in the company’s 14 years.
The ignition source for the fireball wasn’t readily apparent and the spacecraft was idle at the time of the incident, Musk wrote in a tweet Friday. He also asked for any recordings of the event to be e-mailed to the Hawthorne, California-based rocket maker.


Health & Nature

Three Online Platforms Cataloging our Galaxy

Google isn’t the only one using digital tools and crowdsourcing to discover new worlds.At Zooniverse, tens of thousands of volunteers, sifting through infrared satellite imagery, have helped scientists locate—with nearly 10 times more success than previous surveys—some 5,000 “bubbles” (places where stars have formed) in the Milky Way. World Flora Online aims to digitally index an entire listing of the world’s plants—some 400,000 species. Global Xplorer led by National Geographic Explorer and TED fellow Sarah Parcak, tasks users with looking through high-resolution satellite imagery to identify unknown archaeological sites.

Health agencies crowdsourcing solution to drug-resistant bacteria

A group of government health agencies is asking for help finding a solution to drug-resistant bacteria, a growing threat to public health. According to the CDC, bacteria that can’t be killed by antibiotics cause at least two million infections every year, and some 23,000 deaths. “Antibiotics aren’t working anymore for lots of these bugs,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health. “This is a growing problem and it desperately needs better tools in order to be able to tackle it.”
How, the Department of Health and Human Services, The National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are launching the Anti-Microbial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge. Officials are looking for laboratory diagnostic tests that can both identify and describe drug-resistance bacteria. They’re also looking for tests that can distinguish between viral and bacterial infections. $20 million in prizes will be awarded.


Finance & Society

Can crowdsourced price data change shopping habits?

Basket is a shopping app that aims to increase price transparency by using crowdsourced data to determine where a user can get the lowest price on the items on their shopping list, according to CNNMoney. Basket began its life, quite cleverly, as an app called StockUp, which gamified taking pictures of products and rewarded users with points and cash. The game allowed the creators to build out a database of 900,000 SKUs, which acted as the foundation of Basket. The app still enlists 5,000 “power shoppers” who continue to provide the app with SKU information from stores and uses an algorithm to predict impending price changes.

The Beatles Embrace Crowd Sourcing

The latest offering from the Beatles makes huge use of modern phenomena like crowdsourcing and deep digital remixing.  Director Ron Howard has assembled a massive amount of footage into a compelling documentary on the inadequately assayed experience of the Beatles on stage. “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” was a mammoth undertaking, and is a delight for casual fans and a treasure trove for fanatics.
The call famously went out from the producers of the film years ago for fans to submit their film footage of the Beatles live performances. Snippets from gigs all over the world were assembled. Without such crowd sourcing it is doubtful the documentary would be as compelling. Regardless of the depth of the Apple Corps vaults, there was obviously much footage ‘in the wild’ waiting to be culled and curated.

Canadian director calls crowdsourced doc on India ‘film about humanity’

When Richie Mehta first decided to direct the documentary “India in a Day,” the Toronto-born filmmaker had no idea what story the project would tell. That’s because the film relies entirely on crowdsourced footage, shot by everyday Indians on devices that ranged from old cellphones to sophisticated cameras. The tale that is told in the final edit, however, is one that Mehta feels any audience can connect with. “I really believe this is a film about humanity,” he said in an interview before the documentary opened at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday.