Tags crowdsourcing

Google Deploys Person Finder Tool to Aid Victims of Nepal Earthquake

As reports of the devastation from this morning’s earthquake in Nepal continue to roll in, Google has launched Person Finder, a crowdsourced, missing persons database to help victims of the quake track down their loved ones.

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Maddie Stone

April 25th

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Now William Shatner’s Crowdsourcing Ideas for His Bonkers Drought Plan

Hey, we’ve all got ideas to save California from its cataclysmic drought. Stop fracking! Stop showering! Stop eating! But none of us is William Shatner: Enterprise captain, Priceline spokesperson, Twitter watchdog, and probably, definitely, most certainly not a water expert. This is not preventing him from proposing a $30 billion solution, including a crowdsourcing website to find the best way to do it.

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Alissa Walker

April 24th

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Apple Maps to expand community crowdsourcing features, Siri + Passbook integration

Maps Transit

Apple is looking to expand its efforts in crowdsourcing data to improve its Maps app for iOS and OS X, according to hints in a new job listing on the company’s site.

So far Apple’s efforts in crowdsourcing data to improve its Maps app has been limited to its own data collection projects and the “Report a problem” function in the Maps app. It also collects crowdsourced data from iOS’s Frequent Locations feature if users allow it. But the new job listings hint at Apple’s interest in expanding the user feedback feature, including through Maps integration in Siri and Passbook.

The job posting is seeking a “Community Client Software Engineer” for the Maps team to work on “building and extending the Maps application to allow Apple to crowdsource improvements to the Maps experience.” More specifically, Apple wants someone to work on developing new data crowdsourcing features through “high-level UI development and architecture of the “Report a Problem” feature of the Maps application.” It also hints at collecting crowdsourced data through Maps integration with apps like Siri and Passbook:

You’ll also be working on the frameworks and plugins that enable Maps to integrate deeply and seamlessly with parts of the system such as Siri and Passbook, to extend and enhance the feedback experience.

Apple has improved on its Report a Problem feature that allows user-submitted corrections somewhat since first launching Maps, but it doesn’t include features like real-time crowdsourced traffic alerts. Those have been made popular by apps like Waze, the maps app with a focus on user submitted data that Google acquired last year.

Apple recently resumed its own crowdsourcing efforts for Maps using Ground Truth contributors around the globe following some shake-ups on the Maps team. Troubles for the Maps team might not be over, however, as last month we reported Apple had lost a top Maps app manager, who served as Senior Engineering Manager, Maps Apps & Community, following a notable number of exits in recent months.


Filed under: iOS, Mac Tagged: Apple, Crowdsourcing, Ground Truth, job listing, Jobs, maps, Passbook, Siri, Waze

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Jordan Kahn

December 4th

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The LA Police Wants to Use Crowdsourced Photos to Solve Crimes

The LA Police Wants to Use Crowdsourced Photos to Solve Crimes

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has launched a new website and companion mobile app that allows people who are witnesses to large emergencies can submit photo or video evidence they might have recorded. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea—but like all mass information collection, the idea has a dark side.

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Mario Aguilar

May 6th

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Now You Can Help Search for the Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight

Now You Can Help Search for the Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight

The Boeing 777 that seemed to disappear into thin air last weekend has still not been found after five days of search and rescue. Now a crowdsourcing company has started a campaign where anyone can pore over satellite images to find traces of Flight 370 or its 239 passengers.

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Alissa Walker

March 12th

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Crowdsourcing Could Help Deaf People Subtitle Their Everyday Life [Crowdsourcing]

Subtitles make TV far more accessible for deaf people, but new research promises to give people with hearing difficulties the option to subtitle their everyday lives, too, using crowdsourced transcribers. More »


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Jamie Condliffe

July 25th

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How to Get the Internet to Pay for Your Lunch [Money]

Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are great for raising money to build a cool looking lamp or direct a movie shot on your iPad. But they're also perfect for getting people to give you money for no reason at all. More »


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Sam Biddle

June 21st

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Kickstarter Responds To Hidden “Failed Project” Claims

Screen Shot 2012-05-31 at 5.59.40 PM

Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter, dropped us a line about the systems in place to “hide” failed projects. He told us that Kickstarter does indeed hide many projects from search robots, but it’s for a good cause.

“The original poster was correct in noting that we don’t have a browse area for projects whose funding was unsuccessful,” he wrote. “This isn’t to ‘hide failure,’ as the original post said, it’s because it would be a poor user experience (there’s no action that anyone could take) and it would expose the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to unnecessary criticism from the web (those projects would be prime for trolling).”

“Most unsuccessfully funded projects come up short because of a lack of interest in the project or because their creators didn’t promote it enough, not because of the Kickstarter page itself. Success on Kickstarter comes down to making a video, pricing things reasonably, and telling people about the project.”

In fact, project creators asked that Kickstarter projects be de-indexed for a reason: they ranked high in search results and, if Google crawled them, the resulting failures would percolate towards the top. “Because Kickstarter projects index very highly in search, creators were seeing their unsuccessfully funded projects ranking extremely high — in some cases as the #1 result — for their name. That obviously sucked, so we made the decision to de-index them.”

The company has added a FAQ to address the problem here.

As we said before, this isn’t a marketplace, it’s a dog show. You don’t want the ugly mutts hanging around when there are plenty of great specimens to peruse. This is crowdsourcing perfected, in a way, and if there’s one thing we know about crowds it’s that they’re easily swayed, fickle, and rarely kind.



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John Biggs

May 31st

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New Crowdsourcing Launch: AskYourUsers.com Uses LinkedIn To Help You Find People For Microconsulting Projects

askyourusers.com

Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding have been two of the biggest trends to effect how businesses — especially small businesses and sole traders — raise money, with sites like Kickstarter.com and in the UK Funding Circle attracting a attention for being a great way of getting backing for projects or business ideas bypassing the traditional and expensive world of bank loans in the process.

Now a site is launching that gives this model an additional twist: AskYourUsers.com is a simple service that helps you find people for microconsulting projects lasting no more than 15 minutes — and it uses your LinkedIn network to help you find them.

From the demo that I have seen, the service is basically that simple, but it works very smoothly, and definitely solves a need — one that Amelia Dunne and her co-founder, Chris Bumgardner, essentially stumbled on unintentionally:

The two had been working together on startup ideas for the last four years and finally both left their day jobs to concentrate on startups full-time:

“But after a month of development, we were still trying to validate the idea in order to feel comfortable spending our time and money building the prototype,” she says. “The validation process was time consuming, expensive and we weren’t finding the right people to talk with or getting objective feedback. AskYourUsers.com is the tool we wished we could use – but it didn’t exist. We determined that the value in it made AskYourUsers.com worth developing even if only for our own use. Quickly, it made clear business sense as well. We were surprised to learn how inefficiently other startups were conducting their market research, holding focus groups and learning about their customers’ needs/interests.”

This included businesses engaging in the lengthy and costly process of conducting in-person focus groups; businesses using Craigslist posts to recruit people that could provide feedback; using Surveymonkey to filter down the respondents, and choose which ones to interview. Then the time spent analyzing the results was another issue. “We knew the process could be easier than what we (and other start-ups) were experiencing,” she says.

The solution is a simple web interface that lets you set questions, decide on tasks (user testing, feedback on a feature and so on), how many people you would like to target and even some demographical information. Then you pay $22 per “consultant”. On the consulting end, would-be helpers set an hourly rate of between $20-40, with each job paying out a minimum of $7.50. The site advises that if you charge $40 or more you may not get as many jobs.

Then AskYourUsers does the rest.

Dunne says that she believes this might be the first to use LinkedIn to help find people. It’s an interesting way of using the enterprise-focused social network not just for networking, but for actually making a bit of money. LinkedIn, however, is just the beginning, she says. The plan is to integrate Facebook Connect soon, in addition to other new services that it plans to roll out in the coming quarter.

As for funding, the company is taking the less networked route for now: totally self-funded. “We have not yet explored additional funding or spoken to any potential backers, but we intend to begin looking for angel funding soon after this beta launch,” Dunne says.

The plan is to kick off now with a closed beta for the next two months. Dunne says the company already has some startups waiting to be its first customers at launch.

And for those readers who would like to try this out early with their own microconsulting request, we have a code. The first 1,000 users to go to the site and enter 66214506-5229-48d6-be5f-6eff5a164b68 can do so for free. I’m sure they’d love your feedback.

Oh and P.S. That startup they were working on? A mobile app for real time promotions where the merchants offer things for free (overstock, giveaways, inexpensive products). One to look out for in the future I guess.



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Ingrid Lunden

April 19th

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Apps Have Got Your Back

circle-of-6

Who needs governments? The ongoing trend toward mobile, social and crowdsourcing apps have led to a wealth of new community-based resources that support or supplant traditional civic and government services. Think Kickstarter instead of the NEA or Canada Council. Or consider the new Circle of 6 app, which is intended to help prevent violence before it happens, by letting users reach out to friends when dicey situations arise, instead of calling 911 after they get out of hand.

Circle of 6 is the brainchild of health educator Deb Levine and anti-violence activist Nancy Schwartzman, who have found that it’s often easier for people to reach out for help via a screen, and that it’s important for groups of friends to offer concrete strategies for supporting each other. It’s already won the White House’s Apps Against Abuse challenge, and racked up tens of thousands of iPhone downloads. “We are working to get the app in the hands of Android users as soon as possible,” says lead developer Christine Corbett Moran (an astrophysicist with a double-major Physics/CS degree from MIT, who develops apps in her copious spare time.)

Apps like Circle of 6 are the thin edge of a really interesting wedge. In the rich world, apps that obviate or replace the need to call in the authorities are merely useful; but in the developing world, where competent authorities are much poorer and more thinly stretched, such services are far more disruptive. Community-sourcing apps won’t replace government services that already exist, at least not anytime soon. But where those don’t exist at all, these new services can be downright revolutionary.

Some concrete examples: I Paid A Bribe (which I’ve written about before) helps Indian communities fight the scourge of corruption. Ushahidi maps crises where governments are too poor or paralyzed to do so themselves. A few years ago I helped build the EpiCollect app for Imperial College London, which anyone can use to collect, store, and map their own data; veterinarians used it to track the spread of diseases in East Africa. Ulwazi collects “community memories” — ie cultural knowledge — in South Africa. Esoko helps African agribusiness entrepeneurs share and gather data that is tracked by government statisticians in the First World, but not necessarily by theirs.

As smartphones continue their relentless conquest of the planet — in particular, as the price of a decent Android phone drops below $100, and more than 50% of the poor world has access to one, a mark that I expect will be passed in the next few years — these kinds of community-sourcing apps will grow ever more important. In the same way that the developing world bypassed wired phones and jumped straight into mobile, they may bypass certain forms of top-down hierarchical government services in favor of crowdsourced resources and resilient communities. (More on that last concept in my forthcoming interview with John Robb.) That’s going to have some very interesting ramifications … and I predict that some startups that target this shift ahead of the curve will ultimately make a killing.

Image: Circle of 6 app



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Jon Evans

April 14th

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