Crowd diagnosis could spot rare diseases doctors miss


New Scientist: “Diagnosing rare illnesses could get easier, thanks to new web-based tools that pool information from a wide variety of sources…CrowdMed, launched on 16 April at the TedMed conference in Washington DC, uses crowds to solve tough medical cases.

Anyone can join CrowdMed and analyse cases, regardless of their background or training. Participants are given points that they can then use to bet on the correct diagnosis from lists of suggestions. This creates a prediction market, with diagnoses falling and rising in value based on their popularity, like stocks in a stock market. Algorithms then calculate the probability that each diagnosis will be correct. In 20 initial test cases, around 700 participants identified each of the mystery diseases as one of their top three suggestions….

Frustrated patients and doctors can also turn to FindZebra, a recently launched search engine for rare diseases. It lets users search an index of rare disease databases looked after by a team of researchers. In initial trials, FindZebra returned more helpful results than Google on searches within this same dataset.”

Data for the Boston Marathon Investigation Will Be Crowdsourced


WIRED: “The investigation of Monday’s deadly twin bombings in Boston will rely to an extraordinary extent on crowdsourced surveillance, provided by Marathon spectators’ cellphone photos, Vine videos, and Instagram feeds….There are limits to the crowdsourcing. The data used in the investigation will be crowdsourced. The investigation will not be. A crowdsourced investigation runs a high risk of becoming a witchhunt, as we saw in the Newton shooting spree.”

Medical Care, Aided by the Crowd


New York Times profile of a new crowdsourced service: “Watsi, which started last August, lets people donate as little as $5 toward low-cost, high-impact medical treatment for patients in third-world countries. The procedures range from relatively simple ones like fixing a broken limb to more complicated surgery — say, to remove an eye tumor. But the treatments generally have a high likelihood of success and don’t involve multiple operations or long-term care… Watsi represents the next generation of charities dependent on online donors, evolving the model started by sites like Kiva. With just a few mouse clicks, Kiva users, say, are able to lend money to a restaurant owner in the Philippines — and to examine her loan proposal and repayment schedule, to read about her and see her photograph.”

Crowdscaling


Let’s consider these numbers that were shared in February of this year:

  • 3,190 TEDx events have happened around the world (since 2009)
  • 800 cities around the world have hosted one or more TEDx event
  • 126 countries have hosted one or more TEDx events
  • 12,900 TEDxTalks have been delivered

The first TEDx organizer, Krisztina “Z” Holly, explains these numbers of  growth in the Huffington Post as resulting from  “crowdscaling”:

“Like crowdsourcing, crowdscaling taps into the energy of people around the world that want to contribute. But while crowdsourcing pulls in ideas and content from outside the organization, crowdscaling grows and scales its impact outward by empowering the success of others.”

Krisztina identifies two critical success factors behind “crowdscaling”:

  • Adopting a “platform” model of institutional organization

“It is a business strategy that, instead of using a top-down, command-and-control approach for growth, builds on the nature of today’s hyper-connected, open, and globalized world to leverage customers, partners, even competitors. Organizations can achieve enormous scale and influence by creating the platform on which others can build, and aligning stakeholders so they feel partial ownership of the movement.”

  • Strong commitment from the top

“While the approach requires only modest investment, it does need a large commitment from the top. It can make typical leaders very uneasy, because they are no longer in complete control. (Imagine having over a thousand volunteer teams, who aren’t employed by you and can’t be fired by you, creating events around the world in your name! That’s enough to give a typical corporate executive night sweats.)”

June 1: National Day of Civic Hacking


From Peter Welsch at the White House: “On the first weekend in June, civic activists, technology experts, and entrepreneurs around the country will gather together for the National Day of Civic Hacking. By combining their expertise with new technologies and publicly released data, participants hope to build tools that help others in their own neighborhoods and across the United States”.

Apply for the National Day of Civic Hacking at the White House. The deadline for applications is 5:00pm on Friday, April 19.