Five innovative examples of crowdsourcing

Every week we bring you the FreshMinds Friday picks – ideas to help you make the most of digital technologies and understand how they are helping brands to grow and innovate. This week we’re looking at five great examples of crowdsourcing from using it to aid the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane to helping redesign London’s parks.

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane

On 11th March, DigitalGlobe launched its crowdsourcing platform Tomnod and invited the public to look at images from its high-definition satellites to help find the missing aircraft. On Tomnod users are asked to tag areas of the map that may show wreckage, rafts, oil slicks or anything else that may be interesting or suspicious. An algorithm called CrowdRank is then used to determine the most promising leads in the search for the plane, paying close attention to where people multiple people have tagged the same location. So far there have been 257 million “map views” and 2.9 million areas “tagged” by participants, with DigitalGlobe reporting that 3 million people have participated so far.

Cancer Research’s app fuelled data crunching

Cancer Research’s game Play to Cure: Genes in Space is an innovative new way to use the crowd to crunch vital scientific data. In the game users work for a company called Bifrost Industries and are tasked with the mission to collect a “valuable and tradable substance Element Alpha”. Element Alpha represents genetic cancer data.

During the game players rise through the ranks at work by:

  • Mapping a route through the densest areas of Element Alpha
  • Following the route as they collect Element Alpha and destroy asteroids
  • Avoiding and shooting asteroids to get to the next level of Element Alpha collection
  • Upgrading their ship to become more powerful and trading Element Alpha for points

Data analysis goes back to Cancer Research’s scientists at two main points: the first is when users are mapping a route through the Element Alpha; the second is when users are flying their spaceship through the intergalactic space course to collect Element Alpha. By finding a route through Element Alpha users are “actually plotting a course through genuine ‘DNA microarray’ data” which is then analysed by scientists. This has enabled scientists to cut the time it takes them to analyse data significantly.

Coach’s crowdsourcing of product shoots

Kyle Stock at Mashable commented on the trend for fashion and make-up brands to leverage social media and effectively crowdsource their product shoots. One such example of this is Coach’s integration of photos posted on Instagram, Twitter and Pose into an interactive microsite. Images tagged on those social media platforms with #coachfromabove are curated by the site to promote their product in a more naturalistic way.

Lambeth Council’s redesign of parks

Off the back of their successful Lambeth Library Challenge (delivered in partnership with White OctoberLambeth Council is currently giving people the opportunity to help redesign some of its parks using “real” budgets. Part of the ethos behind the game is the council’s desire to work in closer collaboration with local communities to identify what services they want in their outdoor spaces. The Lambeth Parks Challenge gives players the opportunity to “set up a virtual park and try [their] hand as park designer, manager and gardener, all within budget”. By looking at what game users choose the council is hoping to gain a better insight into what local people’s priorities are.

The GoldCorp Challenge

Rob McEwen harnessed the crowd through his Goldcorp Challenge and in the process helped turn people all over the world into gold prospectors. McEwen triggered a gold rush by releasing his company’s geological data, which ran back to 1948, into the public space. He offered a prize of $575,000 in prizes to the participants who could came up with the best methods of identifying where they would be able to find gold. As a result of the challenge more than 110 sites were identified, of which 50% were unknown to the company before the challenge was launched. Of these more than 80% yielded significant gold reserves. In total, more than $6 billion of gold was found.