What’s New in Crowdsourcing?

2016 was a big year for crowdsourcing. In our final edition of What’s New for the year, we clearly see how crowdsourcing is being used to create transparency and provide citizens with an active voice in our local governments. Crowdsourcing continues to play an important part in new product development for large and small companies, and our new capacities to collect scientific and locational data is proving to be game-changing. Check out the latest news stories from around the world.

Cities & Government

Could crowdsourcing expertise be the future of government?

We lack public institutions – a participatory bureaucracy and open parliamentary processes – that know how to tap into the collective intelligence of our communities, and draw power from the participation of the many, rather than the few. It is the absence of these open institutions, and the resulting failure to take account of the views, voices and know-how of the many disaffected people who voted – and those who did not – during the EU referendum and the US presidential election, which create a vacuum that charismatic demagogues end up filling.

DoD Crowdsourcing Effort Produces Innovative Operational Approaches

A crowdsourcing effort launched last month to inspire creative thinking inside and outside the Defense Department on key operational challenges has produced two primary submissions and several others that will be presented for consideration directly to top officials in the department. Submissions came from across the department and from industry, think tanks and academia, Karlin said, and the three chairs chose two top papers and several others that provided useful solutions.

New federal data offers a more accurate picture of Police Encounters

The lack of reliable federal data on police-involved deaths received national attention in August 2014 after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. In the absence of reliable numbers, the Washington Post and the Guardian US began tracking officer-involved killing in 2015 using media reports and crowdsourced information, a model the Department of Justice drew on for its new program. The Guardian US determined that police killed 1,146 people last year during interactions on the street. By contrast, police departments reported just 444 police shootings to the FBI in 2014.

Involving Citizens in Government Product Development

The election of 2016 will certainly be one for the history books. Regardless of your political leanings, there was one sure thing to celebrate during this election cycle. The Innovate Your State Fix California Challenge—a crowdsourcing campaign aimed at promoting public participation in order to determine ways to improve government—had an initiative on the ballot in California. Not only was it on the ballot, but it was passed by the electorate! It’s fair to imagine that the accomplishment, a current 100% success rate for crowdsourced initiatives on ballots in California, can be at least partially attributed to the direct involvement of the citizens it would affect. To read the full story of Proposition 54, download the case study.

Hundreds Of Uncharted Cities Will Get Maps Thanks To Crowdsourcing

Despite massive advances in cartographic technology over the past decade, a huge number of large cities around the world remain digitally uncharted territories.  This isn’t just inconvenient, but dangerous: in the case of a disaster, a lack of reliable maps means aid workers have a much harder time reaching people in need. The Missing Maps Project—a collaboration between the American and British Red Cross, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, and Doctors Without Borders—aims to solve this by crowdsourcing digital maps of the entire globe, beginning with the most vulnerable places in the developing world.


Business & Technology

Lego Is Crowdsourcing For Its Next Toy Designer

If you know a child who loves getting creative with Lego, let them know about this competition to earn you some brownie points. The toy brand has launched the Lego Friends Designer challenge, where children between the ages of six and 12 years old can design and build the next playset model. The winning idea will be turned into an actual model for the Lego Friends Heartlake City playset, which will be sold at Toys R Us stores worldwide. To participate, upload four pictures of the designed model from four different angles, give it a creative title and include a short description of the inspiration behind the creation. All entries must be submitted by the child’s parent via the Lego Facebook application by 28 Feb, 2017.

How Helsinki’s Eve V crowdsourced computer could rival Apple

The Finnish Windows-enabled design had raised $950,000 from more than 1,750 backers with a month left to go by the time Slush plowed into town, raising more than 12 times their original funding goal of $75,000 at that time. With two days left in their campaign, they have raised nearly $1.34 million. A small team has designed and manufactured a sleek, new kind of computer. “Lately there have been some people saying we’re the first crowdfunded computer. Crowdsourcing is our special thing. We’re the first crowd-developed computer.”

The Future Of Oil, Gas Is Through Internal Crowdsourcing

The oil and gas industry regularly embraces new technologies in drilling techniques, data analytics, and “clean” energy. But it, like most other industries, is only just beginning to set its sights on how it works in the face of several intimidating megatrends like resource scarcity, changing demographics, and technology disruption. The industry is learning the hard way that in the face of fluctuating energy prices and global instability, getting more value from its workforce in the form of untapped insights and a better “ground truth” is critical to maintaining financial stability and competitive advantage.

Partnership Plans on REM and Open Location Platform Technology to Enable Crowd-Sourced HD Mapping

HERE and Mobileye (NYSE: MBLY) today announced plans for a strategic partnership that links their respective autonomous driving technologies into an enhanced industry-leading offering for automakers. “We are building a state-of-the-art global HD map that is becoming the standard for autonomous driving and other IoT applications that need precise location-based information and services,” said Edzard Overbeek, CEO of HERE. “We are rapidly expanding this capability and I am very pleased that we can accelerate that work with Mobileye, a strategic partner which shares our view of where the automotive and other industries are going.”

Oklahoma company is disrupting its way to success

WeGoLook is seriously disrupting the $500 billion property and casualty insurance industry, both through WeGoLook’s leading edge information technology, and by capitalizing on the international trend of crowdsourcing, which is creating, in Smith’s words, “a monumental shift in the way the world works.” WeGoLook has an agile technology and a field force of thousands of “Lookers” who are pre-vetted, skilled independent contractors with the experience or skill set required for the “Look.” They are at the ready to respond in person and on-demand when an insurance carrier needs inspection reports and low-complex tasks completed to assist with underwriting and claims. Meeting the policyholder at their behest ultimately leads to a faster flow of funds and better customer experience at a lower cost.

Researchers Crowdsource Creation of Worldwide Map of Power Grid

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich are crowdsourcing collection of data related to the world’s power grid and freely sharing the results with others. The importance of the project is to provide a planning tool that will be useful as the world converts more broadly to renewable forms of energy in the face of climate change. OpenGridMap, as it’s called, uses volunteers armed with an app on their smartphones to capture photos and location information related to the electrical infrastructure — high-voltage and low-voltage power lines, transformer substations, wind turbines and solar power plants.


Health & Science

Get involved with NASA: Crowdsourcing ideas for Mars houses, robots, and space poop

Since 2011, NASA has been using crowdsourcing to help them solve some of the problems that crop up on the International Space Station (ISS), from coming up with solutions to the difficulties of astronauts exercising in space, and the risks of Galactic Cosmic Ray exposure. These crowd-sourced projects, framed as challenges, draw people from all over the world. To date, a dozen platforms exist to host the challenges, including a site called Freelancer.com, whose latest challenge involves designing a robotic arm for a new generation of free-flying robots on the ISS.

New startup OncoGambit crowdsources cancer treatment plans and second opinions from doctors

OncoGambit pools the collected opinions and recommendations of an estimated 1,100 oncologists to assemble a suitable treatment plan for a given patient. They combine those recommendations with four industry-trusted guidelines and standards: National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). The company caters to oncologists and general practitioners as much as it does patients, hoping to be used as an augment to a doctor’s expertise.

Crowdsourced Study Pinpoints Depression Genes

Depression affects some 350 million people worldwide, costing billions in health care expenses and decreased work productivity, yet the illness is poorly understood on a biological level. But we’re getting closer. Scientists have pinpointed 15 regions in DNA associated with depression. The study, published in August in Nature Genetics, analyzed the genetic variations of 75,607 individuals who reported having depression, and 231,747 healthy controls. The data came from personal genomics company 23andMe.

This crowdsourcing government contest hopes to nail long-range forecasting

The WashingtonPost.com
Now that we’ve achieved a good seven-day forecast (no really, we have), researchers are turning to the next frontier: forecasting the weather weeks in advance. It’s a lofty goal, the code to which hasn’t really been cracked. So far, long-range forecasts have been modestly successful, but they haven’t proved useful in predicting drought-enhancing conditions or extreme rainfall. To inject some outside-the-box thinking, one federal agency is offering $800,000 in cash prizes to any person or group that can develop a system that skillfully forecasts general weather patterns — temperature and precipitation — beyond two weeks.

Crowdsourcing Discovery: Meet the Massive Binary System Detected by [email protected]

Started in 2005 as part of the World Year of Physics program, [email protected] is a distributed computing project supported by the American Physical Society (which runs PhysicsCentral and Physics Buzz), along with the National Science Foundation and the Max Planck Society, among others. The idea is this: our observatories generate more data than scientists have the resources to comb through, even with the help of supercomputers. That’s where you come in. Regular people can donate the idle time from their computer (or phone) to searching data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite for evidence of pulsars—fast-spinning neutron stars. Interesting objects are flagged for follow-up by project scientists. The ultimate goal? To directly detect gravitational waves emitted by pulsars.

Earthquake-Detection App Recorded Nearly 400 Temblors Worldwide Using Crowdsourced Data

Thanks to MyShake – an earthquake detection app released in February – almost 400 earthquakes in the past 10 months have been recorded. According to UC Berkeley officials, they recorded surprisingly higher seismic activities in the fracking fields of Oklahoma. In fact, in 2015, Oklahoma residents experienced tremors 907 times. Since 2008, the region’s earthquake activity increased by a factor of 43, which in percentage terms comes to 4,000 percent. According to earthquake researcher and Ph.D. student Pengyun Wang, wastewater fluid injection technologies from fracking fields are contributing to it.


Finance and Society

Facebook Addresses Hoaxes and Fake News, Relies on Crowdsourcing and Fact-Checkers

Users can now use the new Facebook tool where they have the option to mark the post as fake news or message the one who posted it. Blocking the user who posted the story is another option, but it’s clearly a choice as most people do not resort to it especially when it is done by someone they know. Rooting out fake news is essentially solving the problem. When users flag stories, third party fact-checkers will review it following the code developed by the Poynter Institute, a non-profit training center for journalism. The New York Times reported groups including Snopes, PolitiFact, The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and ABC News will do the fact-checking.

Group uses crowdsourcing to fight cyber attacks

The Northeast Ohio CyberConsortium wants to a be a national leader in the increasingly-important field of fighting cyber attacks, and they’re doing it by crowd sourcing cyber defense. “At high level we’re revealing what’s called TTP: threats, tactics and procedures, such that each organization can use those to better prevent and defend against a similar attack,” said Eaton’s VP and Chief Information Security Officer, Dick Kerr. Corporations like Eaton, First Energy, and Goodyear have joined government entities like the FBI, the Federal Reserve, and academic institutions to share information on incoming cyber attacks – what’s working, and what’s not.

When Finding the Right Lawyer Seems Daunting, Crowdsource One

Now, an online service offers crowdsourcing to hire a lawyer, an effort that if broadly adopted could make it easier for people trying to cope with turmoil like divorce and personal injury. Matt Panzino started looking for a lawyer when his former employer accused him of violating a noncompete provision in his employment contract. Friends told him about Legal Services Link, an online service that connects those needing legal services with lawyers willing to render them. He signed up online, then posted an anonymous summary of his legal dispute.