Wilson Center’s Science & Technology Innovation Program

Posts Tagged ‘Crowdsourcing’

Citizens and Scientists: An Engaging Relationship

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Reports and Publications on November 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Watsonville Wetlands Watch

While it is clear that citizen science has revolutionized the methodology behind collecting and analyzing data, how have these processes impacted the traditional nature of scientists whose conduct of research is often socially detached and highly sophisticated? As the relationship between citizens and scientists continues to evolve, their collaborative role in the production of knowledge has become the topic of new research by Jennifer Shirk and Scott Peters at Cornell University.

Peters and Shirk are exploring the complex social relationship between the interests of scientists and their engagement with the public during the conduct of citizen science. By examining the work done by nine PhD scientists, who have significant involvement in citizen science projects, they found that this relationship goes well beyond aggregation and interpretation of data. In fact, the relationship of scientists and their citizen counterparts has developed into one that combines diverse perspectives to facilitate an integrated dialogue for learning and action. The results of the study will be presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2015 Annual Meeting in February.

Dr. Shirk will be panelist at the Tracking a Changing Climate: Citizen Science Contributions to the National Climate Assessment event at the Wilson Center on November 18th. As Program Manager for CitizenScience.org at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Dr. Shirk supports a community of practitioners who lead, manage, implement and research citizen science projects. Read the rest of this entry »

NASA Launches New Citizen Science Website

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Governance on October 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm

NASASolve

 

NASASolve debuted last month as a “one-stop-shop” for prizes and challenges that are seeking contributions from people like you. But don’t worry, you need not be a rocket scientist to apply. The general public is encouraged to contribute to solving a variety of challenges facing NASA in reaching its mission goals, from hunting asteroids to re-designing Balance Mass for the Mars Lander, there are multitudes of ways for you to be a part of the nation’s space program.

Crowdsourcing the public for innovative solutions is something that NASA has been engaged in since 2005. But as NASA’s chief technologist David Miller points out on the agency’s website, “NASASolve is a great way for members of the public and other citizen scientists to see all NASA prizes and challenges in one location.” The new site hopes to build on past successes like the Astronaut Glove Challenge, the ISS Longeron Challenge and the Zero Robotics Video Challenge. “Challenges are one tool to tap the top talent and best ideas. Partnering with the community to get ideas and solutions is important for NASA moving forward,” says Jennifer Gustetic, Program Executive of NASA Prizes and Challenges.

In order to encourage more active public participation, millions of dollars and scholarships have been set aside to reward those whose ideas and solutions succeed in taking on NASA’s challenges. If you want to get involved, visit NASASolve for more information and the current list of challenges waiting for solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Computation Summit 2014: Microtasking Drives Innovation

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2014 at 11:19 am

sethportraitThis is a guest blog post written by Seth Teicher summarizing the Human Computation Roadmap hosted by the Commons Lab here at the Wilson Center in June 2014.  Seth is Head of Content and Business Development at CrowdFlower. He has worked in crowdsourcing his entire career — with Al Gore on a first-of-its-kind crowdsourcing initiative that leveraged tens of thousands of video testimonials to advocate for climate legislation, then as a founding team member at Atlas Obscura, a crowdsourced guide to hidden wonders of the world before joining CrowdFlower team in his current role.

“Human computation amplifies scientific discovery and human innovation.”

– Haym Hirsh, Cornell University

I had the honor of representing CrowdFlower at the Human Computation Roadmap Summit in Washington D.C. Led by Pietro Michelucci, author of the Handbook of Human Computation and founding editor of the journal Human Computation, and his co-chairs Lea Shanley of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Haym Hirsh, Dean of Computing and Information Sciences at Cornell University, and Janis Dickinson, Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, nearly 60 people from across academia, citizen science and the Federal government assembled to help sculpt a Human Computation Research Roadmap that aligns with our national priorities.

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EVENT: National Plan for Civil Earth Observations

In Crowdsourcing, Governance on August 27, 2014 at 10:16 am

Earth_Western_Hemisphere

Thursday, September 4th, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, 6th Floor Boardroom

In July 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) released the National Plan for Civil Earth Observations. Developed from the results of the first-ever assessment of the Federal civil earth observation enterprise, the Plan provides strategic guidance for a balanced portfolio approach to managing civil earth observations to fulfill agency mandates, achieve national objectives, and help inform Federal investments in civil earth observations. This briefing will highlight the key components of the National Plan, outline its impacts across Federal agencies involved in earth observations, and review associated efforts to enable interagency coordination.

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Map For Ebola with American Red Cross

In Citizen Science, Crowdsourcing, Disaster Management on August 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Mapgive

The American Red Cross presents another opportunity to help First Responders on the ground through Open Street Map!

Will you be our crowd? We are mapping in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Multiple aid organizations, including the Red Cross, have deployed medical teams to identified sites in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and additional detailed base map data is needed to assist in the response. We will focus on mapping the Joru area, covering parts of southeastern Sierra Leone and western Liberia. No prior experience is necessary, but we recommend that you sign up for an account ahead of time at www.openstreetmap.org, if you do not already have one. You can learn more about the task beforehand here.

Not familiar with OpenStreetMap or the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team? Check out the mapping tutorials and watch the video “Why Map?” to learn more about crowdsourced mapping.

When: Friday, August 22nd, 2014    2pm – 6pm

Where: American Red Cross’s Board of Governors Room at 430 17th St. NW, Washington, DC

What: Bring your laptops if you are planning to map, and a mouse if you have one (we will bring extras if you don’t have a mouse). Food will be provided. If you can’t make it in person, you can map the task with us on any computer with internet access.

RSVP: For further information and to RSVP visit our Meetup page here.

Potential Benefits and Challenges of Crowdfunding in Mexico

In Crowdsourcing, Governance on June 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This is a guest post by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Borrowing from formal banking institutions in Mexico requires high securities and involves high interest rates. As a result, it’s difficult for entrepreneurs, and small and medium enterprises to establish and grow businesses via the traditional financial system. There is a need to fill this gap with affordable capital to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and ultimately, economic growth.

In this regard, crowdfunding can help to close the financing gap that has prevented innovation and entrepreneurism. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people. Supported in recent years by increasing internet access, crowdfunding has been gaining momentum. Even when it has been out there for hundreds of years (e.g. church’s alms or tandas) new technologies now allow larger numbers of potential donors or investors.

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Saint Barbara Almoloya Church, San Pedro Cholula, Puebla state, Mexico. Source: Wikimedia.

This year the Multilateral Investment Fund, member of the Inter-American Development Bank, published a report titled Crowdfunding in Mexico: The Power of Digital Technologies to Transform Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Economic Inclusion which analyzes the opportunities and challenges that Mexico faces to foster this practice. The document highlights signs of optimism for the success of crowdfounding like the country’s entrepreneurial culture, the independent creation of the Mexican Crowdfunding Association, economic reforms pushed through the current administration, and proximity to the U.S. capital markets.

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SciCast, Crowdsourcing Science and Technology Forecasting For Policy

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Foresight, Governance, Guest Blogger on May 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

SciCast is a crowdsourced forecasting platform for science and technology run by George Mason University. It is based on the idea that the collective wisdom of an informed and diverse group is often a better predictor than the judgment of a single expert.

scicast

Part of the Forecasting Science and Technology (ForeST) Program funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), SciCast questions are generated by its participants, as well as ForeST teams at Inkling Markets, George Mason University, BAE Systems and SRI International. KaDSci LLC helps scientists and policymakers formulate questions for SciCast, and Gold Brand Software, LLC is the systems integrator.

SciCast is the largest S&T forecasting effort we know of, crowdsourcing in real-time from a pool of thousands of scientists and enthusiasts.  Popular topics include Bitcoin, the search for MH370, chess, alternative energy, space sciences and honeybee colony collapse.  We also have a richly connected set of questions on Top500 computer speeds, and another set on open problems in theoretical computer science.

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DEBRIEF: Environmental Information – The Roles of Expert and the Public

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Governance, Uncategorized on May 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

This is a cross-blog post written by Muki Haklay, Professor of Geographic Information Science in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, University College London and Director of the UCL Extreme Citizen Science group.

On April 29th I gave a talk on, ‘Environmental Information - the Roles of Experts and the Public’ which is based on a forthcoming chapter in a book that will be the final output of the EveryAware project.

The talk (and the chapter) are building on the themes that I discussed in a presentation during the Eye on Earth user conference in Dublin in 2013, and earlier talks in Oxford Transport Studies UnitUCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and at University College Dublin School of Geography, Planning & Environmental Policy in 2010 (see also my reflection from the Eye on Earth summit in Abu Dhabi in 2011). In the talk I discussed the three eras of environmental information that can be identified: information produced by experts, for experts (1969-1992); information produced by experts, to be shared by experts and the public (1992-2012); and finally, information produced by experts and the public to be shared by experts and the public.  I covered some of the legal frameworks about production and use of environmental information, including laws and international agreements, as well as using specific demonstrations of the information systems themselves, as to demonstrate the practice. I also tried to suggest the trends that are behind the changes in the eras, and levels of education is quite central.

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Appiro Testifies Before Congress on Crowdsourcing, Innovation and Prizes While Wearing Google Glass

In Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Governance, Technology and the Law, Uncategorized on May 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm
appirio

Mr. Singh wearing google glass while testifying.

As Congress moves forward with integrating more prizes and challenges for crowdsourcing scientific research, one expert from Silicon Valley raises important issues in the government’s approach.

Narinder Singh, the co-founder and chief strategy officer at Appiro, a cloud based Technology Company that uses crowdsourcing to solve problems, was invited to speak before the House Science Committee’s research subcommittee earlier this month. Singh addresses the lawmakers in a hearing on “Prizes to Spur Innovation and Technology Breakthroughs.” Singh, addressed the committee while wearing Glass, a new wearable lens from Google that allows the user to take images, record and retrieve information using voice commands.

After an introduction to Appiro, Singh described the company’s [topcoder] program, which is a community of 600,000 designers, developers and data scientists who serve as an exclusive “crowd”  for crowdsourcing client problems. Using this group, Appiro breaks down complex problems into smaller projects, presenting them to the crowd to solve and awarding cash prizes for the best solutions. To date Appiro has partnered with NASA, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the National Institutes of Health to design and implement a variety of challenges and prizes using the topcoder crowd.

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BirdReturns: Citizen Science Data Prioritizes Conservation of Bird Migration Habitat in California

In Citizen Science, Crowdsourcing, Governance on April 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

 

pacificflyway

Waterfowl arriving in California’s Central Valley in the fall. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The dry Central Valley of California seems like the last place that would be rich in wetland bird habitat, but the region is a critical part of the Pacific migratory flyway, containing critical fragmented pockets of foraging grounds. A variety of shorebird species, with their adapted long legs and beaks, poke around in flooded lands to search for their meal that will sustain them till the next stop on their journey North.

A new initiative called BirdReturns, financed by The California Nature Conservancy, uses eBird citizen science bird observation data to collect information about habitats frequented by threatened species along the migratory pathway in the Central Valley. eBird is a successful citizen science program run out of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and asks participants from all over the world to submit bird observations online or via a smartphone application.  This eBird data is overlaid with satellite imagery of existing wetlands, allowing experts to target agricultural areas that are critical habitats for bird migration.

This image is taken from eBird’s website. It displays citizen science observations for the Central Valley of California.

Using this the data the BirdReturns program asks farmers to auction off their land to the Nature Conservancy for a couple weeks, agreeing  to keep it flooded to a level suitable for bird foraging (usually a couple inches will do). This model is called, “Payments for Ecosystem Services,” a popular economic approach to valuing nature for the regulatory services it provides like clean water and air.

Eric Hallstein, an Economist with the Nature Conservancy, recently told the New York Times that the data-intensive initiative is “disrupting the conservation industry by taking a new kind of data, crunching it differently and contracting differently.”

The BirdReturns program demonstrates the incredible value that large scale citizen science datasets can provide for critical conservation programs.

 

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