This post originally appears in Forbes.
6/07/2012 @ 3:48PM
Crowdsourcing Social Good and Innovation
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford
Crowdsourcing has existed in various forms for a long time; it just went by words found in Webster’s dictionary. Collaboration and idea sharing were once contained within local communities, groups, and organizations. But since boundaries fell with the internet’s reach, the whole world has now become one big brainstorming group. There are no barriers to soliciting ideas to make the humanitarian project of your choice a successful reality.
The definition of crowdsourcing on Wikipedia is “outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people…[from] an undefined public rather than a specific body.” And Wikipedia should know – it is the world’s largest product created by crowdsourcing. The largest database of catalogued information available anywhere, the nonprofit information source is constantly updated and checked for accuracy by individuals with expertise all around the globe. It is the sixth most-trafficked site on earth because it produces valuable, convenient, mostly accurate, real-time data anyone can access for free online.
When it comes to social innovation for good, many platforms have surfaced that harness the intelligence and passion around the world for projects that benefit people in need. Sparked, an online micro-volunteering platform, allows anyone with a charitable side to find and complete tasks to help nonprofits. Tasks like social media marketing, web development, language translation, and graphic design are listed by nonprofits that could use a hand, and smart people everywhere can jump in online and assist for a few minutes or a few hours.
Another example of the excellent use of crowdsourcing for good is Ushahidi, a nonprofit organization that develops free and open-source software for information collection, visualization, and interactive mapping. Ushahidi’s servers and software let anyone send in information — via a cell phone and the Web — that is then displayed on a map. During events like the Arab Spring and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year, people could view crisis maps to get instant, specific details on exactly what was happening. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and the information freedom nonprofit Craigconnects, is in talks with Ushahidi about two potential concepts: election monitoring and pandemic detection.
“Mobile tech is making the Net ubiquitous,” Newmark said. “Technology can give the voiceless a real voice and the powerless real power.”
Dell’s Social Innovation Challenge finds and helps develop innovative projects that help solve major world issues involving poverty, hunger, health, sustainability, science, and technology. The program engages more than 60,000 college students annually in a global contest to have their social enterprises funded. By tapping the students’ creativity and enthusiasm, DSIC elicits thousands of transformative ideas for solving pressing global problems, like these solutions from the finalists for the upcoming 2012 awards.
Creative people with a passion to help are everywhere, and with crowdsourcing, there are virtually no limits to joining forces to create positive change. [MORE]
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” ~ John F. Kennedy