"...the process of obtaining services, ideas, or content by seeking contributions from a large group of people, especially an online community."

Crowdsourcing: in detail

What is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is a term coined in the last decade or so, and is defined as the process of obtaining services, ideas, or content by seeking contributions from a large group of people, especially an online community.

How does crowdsourcing work?

From online forums through to social media competitions, mobile connectivity means that crowdsourcing can draw upon the ideas from any sector or group within society, in any part of the world. 

How is it relevant to mobile?

With 86 million connected mobiles in the UK, mobile is a unique channel for two-way communication. The possibilities for crowd sourcing applications are very extensive. 

Crowdsourcing examples:

Citizen engagement

The London Borough of Lewisham’s mobile application, LoveLewisham, enables residents to report environment issues via their mobile devices. Between 2006 and 2014 this had led to a 73% reduction in graffiti in the area. [Source: London Borough of Lewisham]

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, collects data on bird numbers and breeds, by enabling households through a computer, tablet or smartphone to record the birds in their garden or local park for one hour in the year, providing a low cost, comprehensive and longitudinal survey of British bird life. 

Commerce

The Field Agent app is an example of getting members of the public, in exchange for a fee, to use their smartphones to collect photos, video, and other information from stores and other locations for commercial purposes (for example a manufacturer may want to know how their goods are being displayed in retail stores.

Child protection

Child Rescue Alert is a nationwide system, which has the potential to save a child’s life in the event that a child is missing and believed to be at imminent risk of serious harm or death. Members of the public register to receive text messages from the police if a child goes missing and they need urgent public support.

Public services - Road surface and Potholes

The measurement systems on ‘connected cars’ are comprehensive and clever, to the point where road surface conditions, such as the presence of potholes can be detected, recorded, located and aggregated. This is potentially valuable information for local councils and highway authorities.

Case studies:

Crowdsourcing combats air pollution

Crowdsourcing and democracy