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Crowdsourced tech: a force for good

Gone are the days of stranger danger – now it’s all about lending a hand. In a recent study by Bazaarvoice, it was revealed that millennials now trust peer recommendations over those of their friends and family. And a growing number of creatives are now harvesting this open-minded and open-armed approach when developing concepts for their apps. There’s been a huge rise in the popularity of crowdsourcing apps, with many evidently happy to use their phones to do a ‘good deed’ for the day and reap the benefits of others doing likewise. We take a look at a few of the apps acknowledging that two heads are better than one.

Community

Violence against women remains a huge problem in India. In order to map and track violence, NGO SNEHA has developed the EyeWatch app. It allows trained locals to submit anonymous reports and ask for assistance if there is an instance of violence. Victims can then be given legal advice and supported when reporting their case to the police, who are often unresponsive to such issues, viewing them as a matter to be kept in the family. The data is also stored and reviewed by SNEHA.

With Be my eyes, you can lend your sight to someone, just like that monster from Pan’s Labyrinth who can put his eyeballs in his hands (okay, not exactly like that). It allows you to help blind people with simple, everyday tasks. By connecting via live video, those with sight can explain what they’re being shown out loud – the sell-by date of food, for example.

The New Forest Cicada app is there to make sure we don’t forget about the little guys. In the UK, the cicada only exists in the New Forest and is nearing extinction. Since it cannot be heard as you get older – only those under 40 are able to enjoy the sound of it singing – this app uses the microphone on mobiles to send data to the project at Southampton University. This information will allow them to track the insect’s whereabouts and understand more about the size of the population. Anything to make sure British cicadas don’t solely exist in ambient noise generators.

be-my-eyes

Credit: Be My Eyes

Medicine

You’d be forgiven for thinking IBM got the inspiration for its app after watching Limitless. Just as Bradley Cooper uncovers the potential of using 100 percent of his brain capacity, so IBM wants to harness the true potential of smartphones and computers. Installation of the app donates any unused computer processing power to IBM and Scripps Research Institute. Rather more selflessly than Brad, its aim is to put this power towards solving medical puzzles during the outbreak of Ebola, allowing computing problems to be broken down without using a costly supercomputer.

Since dengue fever outbreaks happen in huge epidemics, the mapping app Reporte Criaderos Dengue wanted to tackle the very root of the problem. By asking the public to submit the location and photos of a suspected mosquito hatchery, the government has been able to react quickly and use pesticides efficiently. The reports are submitted and displayed in real time, allowing all app users to access the information to keep themselves safe.

Credit: Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA

Credit: Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA

Business

Fresco allows everyone to live out their journalistic fantasies, bearing more than a fleeting resemblance to last year’s blockbuster, Nightcrawler. Users can assist with breaking news as well as research and contribute to local stories. Unlike similar apps, Fresco aims to be a hub for breaking news as well as a tool, and the first place to check for updates.

Deliverd crowdsources restaurants for mutual benefit. By making use of the downtime in local kitchens, Deliverd keeps its own overhead costs low. It offers extra work for chefs at otherwise quiet times, as well as delicious homemade, hand-delivered lunches for offices.

Placemeter asks people to record what goes on outside on their neighbourhood streets with an old smart phone in exchange for a small monthly payment. This data is then collated and, using computer vision algorithms, is used by local businesses and urban planners. Now that’s what we call community spirit.

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Credit: Deliverd