Swipe right to fix the world: can Tinder-like tech match solutions to problems?

Beth Noveck in The Guardian: “Increasingly, these technologies of expertise are making it possible for the individual to make searchable lived experience. The New York police department, for example, maintains a database of employee skills. As the social service agency of last resort, the department needs to be able to pinpoint quickly who within the organization has the know how to wrangle a runaway beehive in Brooklyn or sing the national anthem in Queens in Chinese.

In public institutions, especially, it is all too common for individual knowhow to be masked by vague titles like “manager” and “director”. Using software to give organizations insights about the aptitude of employees has the potential to improve effectiveness and efficiency for public good.

Already an accelerating practice in the private sector, where managers want granular evidence of hard skills not readily apparent from transcripts, this year the World Bank created its own expert network called SkillFinder to index the talents of its 27,000 employees, consultants and alumni. With the launch of SkillFinder, the bank is just beginning to explore how to use the tool to better organize its human capital to achieve the bank’s mission of eradicating poverty.

Giving people outside as well as inside institutions opportunities to share their knowledge could save time, financial resources and even lives. Take the example of PulsePoint, a smartphone app created by the fire department of San Ramon, California. Now used by 1400 communities across the United States, PulsePoint matches those with a specific skill, namely CPR training, with dramatic results.

By tapping into a feed of the 911 calls, PulsePoint sends a text message “CPR Needed!” to those registered members of the public – off-duty doctors, nurses, police and trained amateurs – near the victim. Effective bystander CPR immediately administered can potentially double or triple the victim’s chance of survival. By augmenting traditional government first response,  Pulsepoint’s matching has already helped over 7,000 victims.

Employers can accelerate this process by going beyond merely asking employees for HR information and, instead, begin to catalog systematically the unique skills of the individuals within their organization. Many employers are anyway turning to new technology to match employees (and would-be employees) with the right skills to available jobs. How easily they could develop and share databases with public information about who has what experience while at the same time protecting the privacy of personal information….(More)”