Disruptive innovation

Crowdsourcing apps mean more data and less work for you

Oct 24, 2016

Working together brings forth positive outcomes – we’re taught this from a young age – and with crowdsourcing apps, councils are able to benefit firsthand from strength in numbers.

Simple and interactive location-enabled applications are now being leveraged by local governments to efficiently address pressing community issues.

Web app building software has provided councils with the ability to create a range of public-facing applications, powered by location-based analytics, without the need to write a single line of code.

Smart apps allow citizens to collect the essential geotagged data required to instantly notify local governments about things like power outages, graffiti and potholes – directly from their smartphones.

Take a photo, add some details, submit. It’s that easy.

Councils can then visualise that data in real-time using a smart mapping dashboard, so decision-makers clearly see where they need to distribute field workers, and prioritise work accordingly.

In New Orleans, for example, the local government is working together with the community to complete an urban blight data collection process.

This labour-intensive task is being undertaken in a bid to identify dilapidated and vacant buildings throughout the city, and solve related issues like sickness, decreased property value and criminal activity.

The overall workflow was straightforward. Government staff collected images of New Orleans’ 150,000 properties, with an integrated GPS capturing the location of each photo. From there, they engaged Esri to develop a crowdsourcing application using Photo Survey.

The street-level photos were made viewable via the app and accompanied by six basic questions relating to structure and land.

Now, volunteers can use their mobile phones to report property blight to government at any time, with authority.

Within the first month of the app being made available to the public, 16,000 surveys were completed.

The process has proven much faster than standard sidewalk surveying methods, and the dramatic efficiency gains are saving City of New Orleans time and money, and helping drive ongoing restoration efforts post Hurricane Katrina.

To learn more about community engagement applications like Photo Survey and Crowdsource Manager, visit our apps for the community page and see what’s available.
About the author

Ben Doyle


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