2,527 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
In May 2009, then Federal Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Vivek Kundra launched Data.gov as part of the Open Government Initiative. The website’s purpose is to “increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets.” The catalogue contains thousands of files, documents, datasets, charts, and maps. Last month, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) used the website in an innovative way – as a crowdsourcing platform.
On June 1, a group of volunteers helped USAID map the locations of where the agency’s Development Credit Authority was issuing its loans. USAID identified around 117,000 relevant records. Much of the data, however, was not in the right format, which meant that someone had to clean it up. Traditionally, the agency would have paid its staff or hired a contractor to clean the data. This time, however, USAID decided to turn to the crowd.
The agency partnered with the Standby Task Force and GISCorps, both organizations that specialize in crowdmapping, and publicized the event on Facebook, hoping to engage interested volunteers. The agency uploaded the records to Data.gov, allowing access only to registered volunteers. The crowd took over from there.
By USAID's estimates, the pilot program was a resounding success. What was meant to take 60 hours, 145 volunteers were able to complete in 16, with an accuracy rate of 85 percent. The agency also increased its Twitter followers by 20 percent and Facebook friends by 15 percent as a result of the crowdsoucing project. Perhaps best of all, the work was completed for free.
“The project has the potential to encourage more agencies to publish more data in a cost-free manner and engage an interested and experienced public directly in U.S. Government work,” wrote agency members in a recent case study. “This ‘data-as-dialogue’ has transformative power not only for data processing, but also building greater awareness of USAID’s mission, goals, and work.”