Hackathons offer an opportunity to achieve innovation-oriented goals with limited resources, but require careful planning and organizational commitment to sustain engagement over the long term. This brief provides an overview of hackathons and offers strategies from previous successful events.
This white paper describes a groundbreaking system of citizen science projects by the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientific institutions to detect and monitor earthquakes and engage the public in scientific research about seismic events. These approaches seek to provide a more robust earthquake alert network and generate more real-time motion data. The paper also looks at how future efforts could be improved. Successful crowdsourcing projects at the federal level must navigate a web of practical, legal and policy considerations. This paper identifies some of these hurdles and provides lessons learned so that others may apply them to their unique missions.
Individuals and organizations using social media and crowdsourcing need two key sets of information: a systematic assessment of the vulnerabilities in these technologies and a comprehensive set of best practices describing how to address these vulnerabilities. This report identifies certain vulnerabilities and provides a guideline to develop best practices necessary to address a growing number of incidents ranging from innocent mistakes to targeted attacks that have claimed lives and cost millions of dollars.
Social media is responsible for much positive change in the world. But these new tools can be used by bad actors to foment strife and undermine stability, as seen during violent incidents in the Assam state of northeast India in July 2012. Cybersecurity efforts must take into account the growing potential for cyber-attack using social media, where hoax messages are incorporated into a stream of otherwise legitimate messages, and understand how quickly mobile apps and text services can disseminate false information.
By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, social media have the power to revolutionize emergency management. Yet, many challenges—including guidelines for use by response agencies, demonstration of value, and characterization of reliability—must be addressed if the potential of social media is to be fully realized in emergency response and relief efforts in the United States.
A white paper on the policy and technology behind the National Broadband Map, an open-source geographic information systems application allowing users to access detailed statistics on internet connectivity. This project demonstrates the value of transparency, collaboration, and cooperation in government projects.
Launched in July 2012, FLOAT Beijing—a community art project that utilizes citizen science—offers a simple, innovative, and non-confrontational approach to air quality monitoring: kites. Pioneered by two U.S. graduate students, the project tracks air pollutants using air sensor modules attached to kites.
Major emergencies and crises can overwhelm local resources. In the last several years, self-organized digital volunteers have begun leveraging the power of social media and “crowd-mapping” for collaborative crisis response. Rather than mobilizing a physical response, these digital volunteer groups have responded virtually by creating software applications, monitoring social networks, aggregating data, and creating “crowdsourced” maps to assist both survivors and the formal response community. These virtual responses can subject digital volunteers to tort liability. This report evaluates the precise contours of potential liability for digital volunteers.