Open data, what economical and social value does it generate?

Clear Byte work on making information sharing smart and at the same time create a visual understanding of content. One valuable source of data that more people should take advantage of is open data. Open data exist in different shapes and forms but are mainly provided by public sector thought open API:s and web services. In Europe there is a EU directive that recommends and guides governmental organisations to make more data available.

Open data is estimated to have great economical and social value. McKinsey Global Institute estimate that the potential value of data in seven domain areas has could be over $3 trillion only in the US. The first day that Obama took office he signed an executive order to make all governmental data open and machine-readable, i.e. open data. That has today lead to the US are amongst the top three countries in the world in providing open data.

We intend to post a number of articles that focusing on how governmental organisations that provides open data can create a greater value for third-party developers. Third-party developers are a groups of heterogeneous actors that spans from hobby programmer, small start-up companies to global enterprises. The reason that we focus on third-party developers is that this groups is the most important one to create the alleged economical and social value. Next post will address value creating mechanism that facilitates uptake and usage of open data services.

 

Engage citizens to contribute in social development

This is the third article (link to article #1 and #2) on how to create open dialogue and citizen’s interaction by using crowdsourcing in public sector.

In previous articles we have looked at real examples how to solve information and knowledge problems with crowdsourcing in the public sector. In this article we shall look at other examples where crowdsourcing has been applied and present a typology (classification) that is based on work by Brabham (Daren C. Brabham).

Brabham has analyzed and carried out a study on how crowdsourcing has been used to collectively develop and vote for the best design of the bus and stops in Salt Lake City, Utah. But first we shall try to describe the difference between social media and crowdsourcing services. A fundamental characteristic that describes crowdsourcing is that it is based on a collective task that is produced, distributed across the network, a result that accrues to both parties. What we have described in previous articles. Social media, however, need not result in an outcome that accrues to the collective, their natures is more of giving users some form of self-affirmation or provide a communication channel. It is possible to solve problems through social media, depending on the type of problem. But crowdsourcing services YouBongo and others, are often better suited to solve specific tasks and problems.

To sum this difference, one can say that social media serves as a communication channel and that crowdsourcing is a process to solve a problem or produce something collective that creates value for all parties involved. NextStopDesign (nextstopdesign.com) was a competition aimed for everyone that wanted to submit design proposals for the next generation of bus stops that was launched in 2009 in Salt Lake City.

NextStopDesignCitizens had the opportunity to register and submit design proposals. In total citizens submitted 260 design proposals and a total of 3187 users registered to vote for the submitted proposals. No cash or reward was offered top three proposals that received the most votes and selected winners during the contest. Brabham’s article (Crowdsourcing public participation in transit planning) from 2010 describes theories and analyzes the contestant’s interviews about why they spent their own time to develop and produce design proposals for the contest. The result of what motivated citizens to contribute were distributed in a couple of areas that Brabham discuss in his article, a quick summary of the conclusion where;

  • Increased career opportunities by developing their own skills and portfolio of design work
  • Gain industry recognition
  • Contribute to a collective effort, inspired by other people’s posts and discussions
  • Amusing task where users had free opportunity to express their ideas

To successfully engage citizens is no simple task, but there is enough empirical evidence and a study of using crowdsourcing in varies situations to provide indications of success factors leading to desired result. The example on how to engaging citizens to help with design proposals are only one of several examples of successful projects where crowdsourcing has been used. The design proposal project fits into the Brabham’s category of public consultation, in his typology of areas where crowdsourcing is being used.

Typology of areas where crowdsourcing is often being used;

Typology of crowdsourcing applications
Typology of crowdsourcing applications

Manage information and knowledge problems with crowdsourcing

This is the second article (Article # 1) on how to source the crowd and create value for public sector.

Crowdsourcing is an online-based process based on the combination of two perspectives in order to create the desired affect and benefit. One perspective is from the part that initiates the task and wants to get some task done. The control lies with the part that defines the task of when, how and when it should be done. This approach is called top-down and means that the affect of the task goes to those who initiate it. For example, it may be when an organisation wants to communicate an advertising campaign via social media to generate as many “likes” as possible. The task brings only value to the initiated part and no real value to the crowd that perform the task.

The second perspective focuses on the community and what the collective wants to achieve. The task can be initiated by individuals in the collective, but where others will join to complete the task. When the task is completed the result and value benefits the collective, this approach is called bottom-up. An example of this is Wikipedia, where anyone can join and create and edit other people’s articles. The benefits and value benefits the collective that carry out the task, as well as anyone else who are interested in the outcome.

 

Process perspective
Process perspective

The basic idea of ​​crowdsourcing is to create value for both the initiator and executor. One factor to consider is whom has control of the media (on-line tool) used for communication, if it is driven by a neutral part or the initiator. If only one is in control of the communication, the other part could perceive that the process is less open and less inclined to contribute.

Information and Knowledge management

By using crowdsourcing for collecting and structuring information, public organisation can acquire knowledge with significantly less resources than performing the task on their own. A prerequisite for success is that the description of the task must be clear, what is to be collected, how it’s gone be collected and when it will be collected. The goal of the task must equally clear and communicated before the work begins. The dissemination of the result or the affect of the completed task is also important. These are some factors that will determine how many people that will buy in and find the task interesting enough for using their own time to contribute to the task.

One example of successful knowledge management is the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) project called Peer-to-Patent. This case shows that users can perform complex patent issues, provided they have the perquisite knowledge of the field at hand. What case shows is how the collective helps the authority to determine whether the patent application is a new innovation or builds on previous knowledge or technology. This project was so successful and save the Agency substantial resources and now part of organisations operation. The project has also spread to Australia, Japan, South Korea and the UK.

New version of YouBongo with tag cloud and hash tags

After a period of beta testing we’re launching YouBongo in an updated version with the ability to tag observations using hash tags. These tags allow building of local tag clouds with keywords that make it easier to find specific topics. Observation has always bean able to be categorised which groups them horizontally. Through the latest update, it is now possible to tag  observation with one or more hash tags. Which makes it possible to also search for observation vertically across several categories.

Tag Clouds and Hash Tags (swedish content)
Tag Clouds and Hash Tags (swedish content)

Tags are controlled entirely by the user and makes it easier for others to find observations in a specific geographic area. It also makes it easier for groups and individuals to collaborate by tagging observations with certain keywords depending on the current topic.

Several other new features will be presented during the year according to plan. Should you miss any function or come up with a great idea, it is possible for users of YouBongo to submit a request. We go through our own request and ideas as well as the once we receive to come-up with useful new functions. If you are an organization, you can sponsor functions that you request or think would be important for your organisation.  Sponsored functions will get prioritized and will be addressed before other updates.

How to use crowdsourcing in public sector

This is the first article about how to use the power of crowdsoucing to create value to the public and public sector.

There are many good examples on how to use crowdsourcing in public sector. In a previous article, we described how US emergancy agency used crowdsourcing during hurricane Sandy to categorize and prioritize work depending on the information that the public sent to the command center. To understand what problem you have is just the first step of many needed to succeed in crowdsourcing and the ability to tap into the potential of distributed problem solving where the public can participate.

But to use and engaging the public is a bigger problem than just providing an app or a web service. There must be a clear objective of the task and what you want the public to contribute with. To do this, the organisation that initiates the task need to know what type of problem they need help with. Daren C. Brabham and others (2013) have developed a decision tree to assist and clarify the task that is at hand.

Type of crowdsourcing tasks
Type of crowdsourcing tasks

In the following articles we will describe in more detail what kind of tasks you can initiate in the four different categories. Based on our experience and that of scholars like Brabham and others. To give you some idea you need first to find out if you have an information and knowledge problems, or if you are looking for new ideas or solutions to problems. Information and knowledge problem may result in that you need help structuring existing information that you already have or to gather new information. The other part of the problem solving deals with tasks like empirical research, aesthetic proposals, draft new policies or vetting design of products. More on what this means and what tools and processes that are best suited will be discussed in future articles.

 

 

YouBongo updated with weighting functionality

The last release of YouBongo provide a new option for users to weight observation as important/informative, unimportant/uninformative or offensive. With the new option users can now start to earn kudos and reputation as an active social observer.

Weighting observation importance
Weighting observation importance

Observation that is weighted important by users will be display with graphical starts depending on standard score over mean value, this is done in real-time and geographic dependent on the current search area for the user.

Frequent users that contribute to others observation even more kudos and will open up new function that these users to moderate and create more complex observation. More about this functionality will be addressed in future post.

US Emergency Agency (FEMA) Uses Crowdsourcing for Crisis Management

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updates its mobile application with functionality that allows citizens to contribute with images to crisis response.

FEMA Smartphone Application
FEMA Smartphone Application

When Hurricane Sandy hit US in 2012, there where more than 4,000 on-line volunteers who helped FEMA to classify and categorize photo that citizens had sent in to help the authorities. FEMA says it is usually citizens who are the first on site and can provide important information at the beginning of a crisis event. As a result of the successful crowdsourcing effort during Hurricane Sandy, FEMA has now included the functionality for citizens to upload photos with descriptions and geotagging in their smartphone application.

FEMA Sandy 2012 – Crowdsourcing Mapping Video

YouBongo already had this function one year ago, where it’s is possible for users to upload pictures to an observation (with geographic coordinates and time) that citizens creates. Everyone can take part of the observation description and the pictures uploaded in YouBongo without an account. For users who have an account (easy registration via YouBongo) can classify information as important, informative or unimportant, offensive, etcetera. This lets users collaboration (crowdsourcing) on observations of the public space or social issues. The crisis management during hurricane Sandy shows that crowdsourcing can be an important tool to get access to information from citizens, that helps the authorities to plan and coordinate the response.

How citizen interaction and crowdsourcing can create sustainability

To understand how crowdsourcing can bira to sustainable development in the democratic process, we must first understand the meaning of the concept crowdsourcing. Many have heard of crowdfounding as it appeared in the media some later time. Crowdfounding is part of crowdsourcing, which is a broader concept and includes several other categories. What you mean with crowdsourcing is that it is a model for distributed problem and production solution that is almost entirely on-line. Daren C defined the modern definition of the term.

Crowdsourcing design -  www.designcrowd.com
Crowdsourcing design – www.designcrowd.com

Crowdsourcing involves a network of users that are working together to solve a problem or perform an action. One of the most important components in crowdsourcing is that all participants get a mutual benefit of participating in the activity. The satisfaction of getting involved with his knowledge and experience which is usually not justified by monetary means but it wont be for social contact, intellectual stimulation, personal interest, recognition, and more.

Clear Byte works to bringing together the components of crowdsourcing and citizen dialogue, where the citizen creates the content and collaborate together. There are many examples where you create a digital forum in the hope that people will spend time and contribute with knowledge without receiving something for their sacrifice. There are also many websites with with low usability and poor scalability, which makes many give before they get started. The demands we make on our services is to provide experience and interactivity for users. The services must not exclude users access to specific technological platforms as smartphones and tablets. They must be usable by standard web browsers a swell as we offer specific interface designed for users with smartphone and tablet devices.

Through good design and interactivity can Clear Byte building digital forums that contribute to sustainability and entice citizens to use the service YouBongo that rewards and motivates frequent users.

PS. Note that the debate about crowdsourcing for monetary and commercial drawing on other motivators than that of non-profit and volunteer-based work.

Social entrepreneurship at OxfordJam 2013

Clear Byte was in Oxford last week to participate in OxfordJam 2013 and learn how social entrepreneurship looks like in United Kingdom. Social engagement is more common thing in UK people is not only relay on authority to manages all aspects of social service. In contrast to Sweden where people up until now, relied upon that the government manage social service.

The importance at OxfordJam is not to promote organizations’ own projects or programs. It is a meeting place where people via interactive sessions allow participants to share knowledge and learn from each other. Some session themes were recurring, like how to measure the impact of social projects and programs. But also that you think about the people people surround themselves with in their organization to complement each other to succeed as a social entrepreneur. Where resources are scarce and where you are forced to be innovative to succeed in your undertaking.

YouBongo – Visualizing Open Data

After intensive work we now publish a new module for YouBongo to visualize the open data. This is a continuation of our commitment to making open data useful for the users. We focus on creating opportunities for collaboration and comment on open data. The first providers of open data is Swedish Transport Administration service for traffic information. The module for visualization is a beta version and we expect a period of fine tuning before we got all the details in place.

You Bongo - Traffic Info
You Bongo – Traffic Info

The module for the visualization of open data, shows the user’s current location and how far it is to different traffic situations and incidents. This makes it easy for the user to focus on what is near or on the literary he or she intendant to make.

We will continue to look for interesting provider of data that we can adapt and visualized in an attractive way for the user. We want to thank the Swedish Transport Administration for answer our questions during the testing phase.

Partially translated by Google Translate