New App Uses Crowdsourcing to Find You an EpiPen in an Emergency

Article by Shaunacy Ferro: “Many people at risk for severe allergic reactions to things like peanuts and bee stings carry EpiPens. These tools inject the medication epinephrine into one’s bloodstream to control immune responses immediately. But exposure can turn into life-threatening situations in a flash: Without EpiPens, people could suffer anaphylactic shock in less than 15 minutes as they wait for an ambulance. Being without an EpiPen or other auto-injector can have deadly consequences.

EPIMADA, a new app created by researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, is designed to save the lives of people who go into anaphylactic shock when they don’t have EpiPens handy. The app uses the same type of algorithms that ride-hailing services use to match drivers and riders by location—in this case, EPIMADA matches people in distress with nearby strangers carrying EpiPens. David Schwartz, director of the university’s Social Intelligence Lab and one of the app’s co-creators, told The Jerusalem Post that the app currently has hundreds of users….

EPIMADA serves as a way to crowdsource medication from fellow patients who might be close by and able to help. While it may seem unlikely that people would rush to give up their own expensive life-saving tool for a stranger, EPIMADA co-creator Michal Gaziel Yablowitz, a doctoral student in the Social Intelligence Lab, explained in a press release that “preliminary research results show that allergy patients are highly motivated to give their personal EpiPen to patient-peers in immediate need.”…(More)”.

An archeological space oddity

Nick Paumgarten at the New Yorker: “…Parcak is a pioneer in the use of remote sensing, via satellite, to find and map potential locations that would otherwise be invisible to us. Variations in the chemical composition of the earth reveal the ghost shadows of ancient walls and citadels, watercourses and planting fields. The nifty kid-friendly name for all this is “archeology from space,” which also happens to be the title of Parcak’s new book. That’s a bit of a misnomer, because, technically, the satellites in question are in the mid-troposphere, and also the archeology still happens on, or under, the ground. In spite of the whiz-bang abracadabra of the multispectral imagery, Parcak is, at heart, a shovel bum…..Another estimate of Parcak’s, based on satellite data: there are roughly fifty million unmapped archeological sites around the world. Many, if not most, will be gone or corrupted by 2040, she says, the threats being not just looting but urban development, illegal construction, and climate change. In 2016, Parcak won the ted Prize, a grant of a million dollars; she used it to launch a project called GlobalXplorer, a crowdsourcing platform, by which citizen Indiana Joneses can scrutinize satellite maps and identify potential new sites, adding these to a database without publicly revealing the coördinates. The idea is to deploy more eyeballs (and, ultimately, more benevolent shovel bums) in the race against carbon and greed….(More)”.

Crowdsourcing and Crisis Mapping in Complex Emergencies

Guidance paper by Andrew Skuse: “…examines the use of crowdsourcing and crisis mapping during complex emergencies. Crowdsourcing is a process facilitated by new information and communication technologies (ICTs), social media platforms and dedicated software programs. It literally seeks the help of ‘the crowd’, volunteers or the general public, to complete a series of specific tasks such as data collection, reporting, document contribution and so on. Crowdsourcing is important in emergency situations because it allows for a critical link to be forged between those affected by an emergency and those who are responding to it. Crowdsourcing is often used by news organisations to gather information, i.e. citizen journalism, as well as by organisations concerned with emergencies and humanitarian aid, i.e. International Committee of the Red Cross, the Standby Task Force and CrisisCommons. Here, crowdsourced data on voting practices and electoral violence, as well as the witnessing of human rights contraventions are helping to improve accountability and transparency in fragile or conflict-prone states. Equally, crowdsourcing facilitates the sharing of individual and collective experiences, the gathering of specialized knowledge, the undertaking of collective mapping tasks and the engagement of the public through ‘call-outs’ for information…(More)”.

The clinician crowdsourcing challenge: using participatory design to seed implementation strategies

Paper by Rebecca E. Stewart et al: “In healthcare settings, system and organization leaders often control the selection and design of implementation strategies even though frontline workers may have the most intimate understanding of the care delivery process, and factors that optimize and constrain evidence-based practice implementation within the local system. Innovation tournaments, a structured participatory design strategy to crowdsource ideas, are a promising approach to participatory design that may increase the effectiveness of implementation strategies by involving end users (i.e., clinicians). We utilized a system-wide innovation tournament to garner ideas from clinicians about how to enhance the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) within a large public behavioral health system…(More)”

Applying crowdsourcing techniques in urban planning: A bibliometric analysis of research and practice prospects

Paper by Pinchao Liao et al in Cities: “Urban planning requires more public involvement and larger group participation to achieve scientific and democratic decision making. Crowdsourcing is a novel approach to gathering information, encouraging innovation and facilitating group decision-making. Unfortunately, although previous research has explored the utility of crowdsourcing applied to urban planning theoretically, there are still rare real practices or empirical studies using practical data. This study aims to identify the prospects for implementing crowdsourcing in urban planning through a bibliometric analysis on current research.

First, database and keyword lists based on peer-reviewed journal articles were developed. Second, semantic analysis is applied to quantify co-occurrence frequencies of various terms in the articles based on the keyword lists, and in turn a semantic network is built.

Then, cluster analysis was conducted to identify major and correlated research topics, and bursting key terms were analyzed and explained chronologically. Lastly, future research and practical trends were discussed.

The major contribution of this study is identifying crowdsourcing as a novel urban planning method, which can strengthen government capacities by involving public participation, i.e., turning governments into task givers. Regarding future patterns, the application of crowdsourcing in urban planning is expected to expand to transportation, public health and environmental issues. It is also indicated that the use of crowdsourcing requires governments to adjust urban planning mechanisms….(More)”.

Journalism Initiative Crowdsources Feedback on Failed Foreign Aid Projects

Abigail Higgins at SSIR: “It isn’t unusual that a girl raped in northeastern Kenya would be ignored by law enforcement. But for Mary, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, it should have been different—NGOs had established a hotline to report sexual violence just a few years earlier to help girls like her get justice. Even though the hotline was backed by major aid institutions like Mercy Corps and the British government, calls to it regularly went unanswered.

“That was the story that really affected me. It touched me in terms of how aid failures could impact someone,” says Anthony Langat, a Nairobi-based reporter who investigated the hotline as part of a citizen journalism initiative called What Went Wrong? that examines failed foreign aid projects.

Over six months in 2018, What Went Wrong? collected 142 reports of failed aid projects in Kenya, each submitted over the phone or via social media by the very people the project was supposed to benefit. It’s a move intended to help upend the way foreign aid is disbursed and debated. Although aid organizations spend significant time evaluating whether or not aid works, beneficiaries are often excluded from that process.

“There’s a serious power imbalance,” says Peter DiCampo, the photojournalist behind the initiative. “The people receiving foreign aid generally do not have much say. They don’t get to choose which intervention they want, which one would feel most beneficial for them. Our goal is to help these conversations happen … to put power into the hands of the people receiving foreign aid.”

What Went Wrong? documented eight failed projects in an investigative series published by Devex in March. In Kibera, one of Kenya’s largest slums, public restrooms meant to improve sanitation failed to connect to water and sewage infrastructure and were later repurposed as churches. In another story, the World Bank and local thugs struggled for control over the slum’s electrical grid….(More)”

The European Lead Factory: Collective intelligence and cooperation to improve patients’ lives

Press Release: “While researchers from small and medium-sized companies and academic institutions often have enormous numbers of ideas, they don’t always have enough time or resources to develop them all. As a result, many ideas get left behind because companies and academics typically have to focus on narrow areas of research. This is known as the “Innovation Gap”. ESCulab (European Screening Centre: unique library for attractive biology) aims to turn this problem into an opportunity by creating a comprehensive library of high-quality compounds. This will serve as a basis for testing potential research targets against a wide variety of compounds.

Any researcher from a European academic institution or a small to medium-sized enterprise within the consortium can apply for a screening of their potential drug target. If a submitted target idea is positively assessed by a committee of experts it will be run through a screening process and the submitting party will receive a dossier of up to 50 potentially relevant substances that can serve as starting points for further drug discovery activities.

ESCulab will build Europe’s largest collaborative drug discovery platform and is equipped with a total budget of € 36.5 million: Half is provided by the European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and half comes from in-kind contributions from companies of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries an Associations (EFPIA) and the Medicines for Malaria Venture. It builds on the existing library of the European Lead Factory , which consists of around 200,000 compounds, as well as around 350,000 compounds from EFPIA companies. The European Lead Factory aims to initiate 185 new drug discovery projects through the ESCulab project by screening drug targets against its library.

… The platform has already provided a major boost for drug discovery in Europe and is a strong example of how crowdsourcing, collective intelligence and the cooperation within the IMI framework can create real value for academia, industry, society and patients….(More)”

The 100 Questions Initiative: Sourcing 100 questions on key societal challenges that can be answered by data insights

100Q Screenshot

Press Release: “The Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering announced the launch of the 100 Questions Initiative — an effort to identify the most important societal questions whose answers can be found in data and data science if the power of data collaboratives is harnessed.

The initiative, launched with initial support from Schmidt Futures, seeks to address challenges on numerous topics, including migration, climate change, poverty, and the future of work.

For each of these areas and more, the initiative will seek to identify questions that could help unlock the potential of data and data science with the broader goal of fostering positive social, environmental, and economic transformation. These questions will be sourced by leveraging “bilinguals” — practitioners across disciplines from all over the world who possess both domain knowledge and data science expertise.

The 100 Questions Initiative starts by identifying 10 key questions related to migration. These include questions related to the geographies of migration, migrant well-being, enforcement and security, and the vulnerabilities of displaced people. This inaugural effort involves partnerships with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Commission, both of which will provide subject-matter expertise and facilitation support within the framework of the Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M).

“While there have been tremendous efforts to gather and analyze data relevant to many of the world’s most pressing challenges, as a society, we have not taken the time to ensure we’re asking the right questions to unlock the true potential of data to help address these challenges,” said Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder and chief research and development officer of The GovLab. “Unlike other efforts focused on data supply or data science expertise, this project seeks to radically improve the set of questions that, if answered, could transform the way we solve 21st century problems.”

In addition to identifying key questions, the 100 Questions Initiative will also focus on creating new data collaboratives. Data collaboratives are an emerging form of public-private partnership that help unlock the public interest value of previously siloed data. The GovLab has conducted significant research in the value of data collaboration, identifying that inter-sectoral collaboration can both increase access to information (e.g., the vast stores of data held by private companies) as well as unleash the potential of that information to serve the public good….(More)”.

Virtual Briefing at the Supreme Court

Paper by Alli Orr Larsen and Jeffrey L. Fisher: “The open secret of Supreme Court advocacy in a digital era is that there is a new way to argue to the Justices. Today’s Supreme Court arguments are developed online: They are dissected and explored in blog posts, fleshed out in popular podcasts, and analyzed and re-analyzed by experts who do not represent parties or have even filed a brief in the case at all. This “virtual briefing” (as we call it) is intended to influence the Justices and their law clerks but exists completely outside of traditional briefing rules. This article describes virtual briefing and makes a case that the key players inside the Court are listening. In particular, we show that the Twitter patterns of law clerks indicate they are paying close attention to producers of virtual briefing, and threads of these arguments (proposed and developed online) are starting to appear in the Court’s decisions.

We argue that this “crowdsourcing” dynamic to Supreme Court decision-making is at least worth a serious pause. There is surely merit to enlarging the dialogue around the issues the Supreme Court decides – maybe the best ideas will come from new voices in the crowd. But the confines of the adversarial process have been around for centuries, and there are significant risks that come with operating outside of it particularly given the unique nature and speed of online discussions. We analyze those risks in this article and suggest it is time to think hard about embracing virtual briefing — truly assessing what can be gained and what will be lost along the way….(More)”.

Crowdsourcing Research Questions? Leveraging the Crowd’s Experiential Knowledge for Problem Finding

Paper by Tiare-Maria Brasseur, Susanne Beck, Henry Sauermann, Marion Poetz: “Recently, both researchers and policy makers have become increasingly interested in involving the general public (i.e., the crowd) in the discovery of new science-based knowledge. There has been a boom of citizen science/crowd science projects (e.g., Foldit or Galaxy Zoo) and global policy aspirations for greater public engagement in science (e.g., Horizon Europe). At the same time, however, there are also criticisms or doubts about this approach. Science is complex and laypeople often do not have the appropriate knowledge base for scientific judgments, so they rely on specialized experts (i.e., scientists) (Scharrer, Rupieper, Stadtler & Bromme, 2017). Given these two perspectives, there is no consensus on what the crowd can do and what only researchers should do in scientific processes yet (Franzoni & Sauermann, 2014). Previous research demonstrates that crowds can be efficiently and effectively used in late stages of the scientific research process (i.e., data collection and analysis). We are interested in finding out what crowds can actually contribute to research processes that goes beyond data collection and analysis. Specifically, this paper aims at providing first empirical insights on how to leverage not only the sheer number of crowd contributors, but also their diversity in experience for early phases of the research process (i.e., problem finding). In an online and field experiment, we develop and test suitable mechanisms for facilitating the transfer of the crowd’s experience into scientific research questions. In doing so, we address the following two research questions: 1. What factors influence crowd contributors’ ability to generate research questions? 2. How do research questions generated by crowd members differ from research questions generated by scientists in terms of quality? There are strong claims about the significant potential of people with experiential knowledge, i.e., sticky problem knowledge derived from one’s own practical experience and practices (Collins & Evans, 2002), to enhance the novelty and relevance of scientific research (e.g., Pols, 2014). Previous evidence that crowds with experiential knowledge (e.g., users in Poetz & Schreier, 2012) or ?outsiders?/nonobvious individuals (Jeppesen & Lakhani, 2010) can outperform experts under certain conditions by having novel perspectives, support the assumption that the participation of non-scientists (i.e., crowd members) in scientific problem-finding might complement scientists’ lack of experiential knowledge. Furthermore, by bringing in exactly these new perspectives, they might help overcome problems of fixation/inflexibility in cognitive-search processes among scientists (Acar & van den Ende, 2016). Thus, crowd members with (higher levels of) experiential knowledge are expected to be superior in identifying very novel and out-of-the-box research problems with high practical relevance, as compared to scientists. However, there are clear reasons to be skeptical: despite their advantage to possess important experiential knowledge, the crowd lacks the scientific knowledge we assume to be required to formulate meaningful research questions. To study exactly how the transfer of crowd members’ experiential knowledge into science can be facilitated, we conducted two experimental studies in context of traumatology (i.e., research on accidental injuries). First, we conducted a large-scale online experiment (N=704) in collaboration with an international crowdsourcing platform to test the effect of two facilitating treatments on crowd members’ ability to formulate real research questions (study 1). We used a 2 (structuring knowledge/no structuring knowledge) x 2 (science knowledge/no science knowledge) between-subject experimental design. Second, we tested the same treatments in the field (study 2), i.e., in a crowdsourcing project in collaboration with LBG Open Innovation in Science Center. We invited patients, care takers and medical professionals (e.g., surgeons, physical therapists or nurses) concerned with accidental injuries to submit research questions using a customized online platform ( to investigate the causal relationship between our treatments and different types and levels of experiential knowledge (N=118). An international jury of experts (i.e., journal editors in the field of traumatology) then assesses the quality of submitted questions (from the online and field experiment) along several quality dimensions (i.e., clarity, novelty, scientific impact, practical impact, feasibility) in an online evaluation process. To assess the net effect of our treatments, we further include a random sample of research questions obtained from early-stage research papers (i.e., conference papers) into the expert evaluation (blind to the source) and compare them with the baseline groups of our experiments. We are currently finalizing the data collection…(More)”.