In last week’s article, I spent time exploring mobile crowdsourcing applications. Looking at apps such as Waze, where drivers report traffic-related incidents to enhance the GPS experience, and Minutely, where individuals provide up-to-the-minute updates on the weather report, I realized how effective crowdsourcing can be in improving our real-time experiences. But just as valuable, albeit in different ways, is the ability to get input from the crowd to create a set of information that can be aggregated over time, categorized, and made easy to access to help individuals make decisions, for example, how the customer reviews provided in TripAdvisor offers guidance on what airline to take, what location to visit, and where to stay. Similarly, crowd-provided suggestions are instrumental in fueling innovations within organizations, supported by mobile apps such as 7-Eleven’s Idea Hub.
As I brainstormed ideas for new crowdsourcing mobile apps, I proposed a kind of “citizen watch” app that allows individuals to report suspicious activity to the police or homeland security. As I stated, “Give me an app that lets citizens stop crime or even terrorism!”
This reminded me of Patty Seybold's Outside Innovation post of September 14th, “Crowd-Sourcing Safety in War Zones.” The post talked about applications used in Lebanon to help civilians stay out of danger: Ma2too3a maps crowdsourced info about protests, traffic, roadblocks, and clashed; and, in development, Way to Safety is being designed to allow individuals to record gunfire and send it to a site, which will identify the weapon from a sound database and triangulate recordings to pinpoint the exact location and type of fighting.
Such uses extend the value of crowdsourcing beyond convenience or business innovation and demonstrates, as Patty puts it, “how powerful and useful our mobile phones have become as literal life-saving devices, and how awesome it is that crowdsourced information can be quickly harnessed and mobilized to help people help each other.”
Mobile Crowdsourcing Apps
From Waze to Weather to Citizen Reporting and Beyond
By Ronni T. Marshak, EVP & Sr. Consultant/Analyst, Patricia Seybold Group, October 3, 2013
(Read the short sample and download the full article in PDF.)