February 23, 2017, by Stuart Moran

Digital Engagement (3): The Crowd and Their Data

Researchers who study people typically collect data about their lives, practices, activities, attitudes and opinions. It can often be a challenge to find the best-matched participants with the right types of data; let alone in large numbers. By using Crowd Sourcing you can encourage ‘The Crowd’ to bring themselves and their data directly to you. They are often incentivised to do this by making the aggregated data openly available to them, meaning they can see their own and others contributions.

Let’s take a look at some examples of Crowd Sourcing projects that have attracted contributions of different people and different types of data:

Archival Based Data

Europeana1914-1918 aims to gather stories, films and historical material about the First World War. The Crowd are asked to contribute material from their family history, including pictures and stories, by completing structured online forms.

National Archives  looks to the crowd to contribute their own photos to the national archive. The Crowd are asked to upload the material via Flickr, an image sharing service, including descriptions and relevant meta-data (such as location).

Event Based Data

Spot Crime is a crime data aggregator, sourcing crime information from police departments, news reports and user-generated content. The Crowd are asked to submit location based reports of crimes they observe.

Domestic Help Abuse is a centralised source of Migrant worker domestic abuse in the Middle East. The Crowd are asked to generate reports of abuse they have been victim to or have seen, in an attempt to capture the scale and impact of the crimes.

Personal Record Based Data

Local Lingual aims to capture the voices of the world, including accents, languages and dialects. The Crowd are asked to record their own voices and statements of choice for their home town, and review others contributions.

Patients Like Me is an online network that allows patients to connect with others who have the same disease. The Crowd are asked to share their health related experiences, recovery progress and medical data.

What I really like about these projects, and the approach in general, is that the aggregation of the data is the incentive for both the researcher and the crowd. Both have a vested interest in the engagement, which can create highly active and supportive online communities of people who would not have met otherwise.

If you would like to discuss the use of Crowd Sourcing in your research, please do get in touch with the Digital Research Team.

This blog is part of a series on Digital Engagement. Previous in series: The Crowd as Sensors. Next in series: The Crowd’s Resources.

Stuart Moran, Digital Research Specialist for Social Sciences

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