You’re Already a Part of the Collective

Seven ways crowdsourcing is changing society.

The term was coined in 2005 when businesses began attempting to gather data about their customers from social media sites. Today it represents a vastly larger concept: Interactive real-time exchange of data with vast populations.

As a member of the online community, whether it be via desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone you have likely taken advantage of a “free” application from the app store. It’s unlikely you’ve ever read the privacy statement or service agreements that come with those applications, but the old adage is true: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. When you agree to install your free application you are giving its owners access to all sorts of data from your device. Here’s seven cases where that is a good thing:

One: Traffic

While you are slogging along in heavy traffic on the freeway you see cars zipping along the side streets. Would it be faster to get off the freeway? Waze knows the answer. The 100 employee Israeli company was purchased by Google for $1.5B because it queries your smartphone about its location, speed, and traffic conditions and then plots the shortest drive time to your destination. More importantly it will update you if things change.

Two: Disaster Alerts

In Japan most smartphone users will receive a warning message before the shockwaves of an earthquake reach them, giving them time to duck and cover. QuakeAlert is coming to the United States in the very near future for that same purpose.

Three: Cardiac Arrest Survivability

PulsePoint is an application that receives notifications of cardiac arrest from your 911 center and then finds trained citizens nearby to help before EMS can arrive.

Four: Active Shooter

Several applications are in development to crowdsource the location of an active shooter. Users in proximity of a shooting event rarely know which way to run or if they should hide. Constant updates from phones registering the sound of gunshots or user inputs will improve survivability as well as lead law enforcement to the shooter.

Five: Weather

Want to know the weather on the ground right now? We all know the weather apps are great but always off a little bit. What if your phone was actively reporting temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure? Now imagine the forecasting that could be done by meteorologists who could access the 200 million dispersed weather sensors in real time.

Six: Fundraising

Twenty years ago if you wanted to raise money for a cause, or a project you were forced to front the money yourself, find a financial backer, or slog through venture capital firms. Today great ideas can be funded through sites like GoFundMe or Indigogo where small contributions from people who share your vision make ideas come to life.

Seven: Healthcare

Did you know that Uber ran a one day experiment delivering nurses and flu shots with their cars? Crowdsourcing healthcare resources is proving effective at delivering better information, better options, and better care to users. Medable is just one application directed at improving a cancer patient’s experience. Any cancer patient knows that researching the right providers and various treatment options takes time and energy that often isn’t there. Imagine connecting to the collective resources and experiences of ALL the patients who have been on that same road you are starting down.

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