Ana Brandusescu and Renée Sieber in Data Driven Journalism: “Crowdsourced data, especially for mapping, is a boon for data driven journalism. In 2015, Nepal’s earthquake was mapped in an astounding 48 hours. The number of volunteers increased to over 2,400 mappers, most of them international, a number that increased exponentially from the initial range of seven to 100 mapping volunteers present before the earthquake occurred.
A significant use of crowdsourced data for mapping, or crowdmapping, is to inform crisis responses like the Nepal earthquake by providing a medium for citizens to communicate with one another and with those seeking to help victims. The benefits to affected peoples are immediate information sharing and visualization of dire and urgent events. These apps have the ability to fill information gaps and even provide aid for disaster victims. Volunteers from across the globe also can contribute to crowdsource entire maps of post-disaster road infrastructures and refugee sites. As a platform and medium, crisis mapping has become so popular that it is increasingly replacing traditional mapping methods for humanitarian emergencies. This is also a huge benefit to journalists as they demonstrate connectivity between open source software, humanitarian crises, and crowdsourcing. According to the Tow Center’s Guide to Crowdsourcing, “Crowdsourcing allows newsrooms to build audience entry points at every stage of the journalistic process—from story assigning, to pre-data collection, to data mining, to sharing specialized expertise, to collecting personal experiences and continuing post-story conversations”….
But let’s get real. Crowdsourced apps have a highly nuanced and complex process with many problems. Here’s five points.