Tag: crowdsourcing


You can MapSwipe!

Every day we use our phones. We tap, we read, we photograph, we chat, we view, and we connect. But wait! What if your ‘tapping’ time could help a humanitarian? Queue MapSwipe.

mapswipe_lockup_whiteblue larger

Your quick tapping decisions about images could save mappers time and help the most vulnerable. Satellite imagery for project regions are added to MapSwipe. Then, we give you project tasks focused on looking for key items. For example some projects will look for houses, if you see a house in a tile, you tap once for yes (tile turns green), if you are unsure you tap twice (tile turns yellow) or if the tile is flawed (blurry), then you tap three times (tile turns red). Multiple people look at the tiles so that we can crowdsource to higher accuracy. Once the project is completed, we share the curated data with mappers who will review and map the data on OpenStreetMap. All of this is to help humanitarians have the best map possible.

MapSwipe main project screen “In a humanitarian crisis, the location of the most vulnerable people is fundamental information for delivering food, shelter, medical care and other services where they are most needed. And, although it may be hard to believe, millions people around the world are not represented on any accessible map.” (Pete Masters, Missing Maps Coordinator, MSF, July 14, 2016)

MapSwipe is available today on the Google Play and Itunes stores. Download and MapSwipe Today!

MapSwipe is a Missing Maps project aimed to proactively map the places in the world where the most vulnerable people live before a crisis happens. Missing Maps is a partnership between Medecins sans Frontieres, American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, CartoONG, and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

Please share MapSwipe widely with your friends and family. And, do let us know how we can improve. Help bit counts!

About MapSwipe Team and Project

MapSwipe was funded by MSF UK for the Missing Maps Project. Currently, all projects are for Missing Maps partners, but this might change in time. The tool was developed by an amazing team. Congratulations Ivan, Pim, Sadok, Alison, Pete, Astrid and Bennie. You all inspire me. (Note: My contribution of advisor was on my personal time as a proud Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Board Member. )

Imagery is provided by Bing (Thanks Microsoft!).

Thanks for Mapswipebe a mobile volunteer with mapswipe


Crowdsourcing with Digital Responders

Crowdsourcing Global Week is in full swing in London, UK. Every aspect of Crowdsourcing is up for discussion. London is apparently one of the global leaders in Crowd Economy entrepreneurships. As I consider how we can reshape aid and really make a difference with digital humanitarians/digital responders, the lessons of those who have successful scaled communities and social entrepreneurship really resonate. When I consider their efforts to talk about the “5 Ps of the Crowd Economy”, I see that for our work in humanitarian and ICT we should simply replace “Platform” with “Programs & Partnerships” or “Project & Partnerships”.
4 P of crowd economy cswglobal16

There is so much potential to get people involved in their world using digital skills for good. As we observe those talking about the “crowd economy” and the “sharing economy”, we do need to consider how we can apply the lessons of our friends in the larger Crowdsourcing World. Today I will talk about what I think we need to build to connect global crowdsourcing and digital volunteers to existing programmes and communities. Volunteering is a gift and if we are going to scale Digital Responders then now is the time to link the various worlds. (There are extensive notes and resources in the slide notes.)


Earth Observation Summer School

You can go to space….school! As 1 of 60 students at Earth Observation Summer School in Frascati (Rome), Italy, you will enjoy 2 weeks of learning and sharing.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is inviting young researchers to join leading experts in Earth Observation, Modelling and Data Assimilation for keynote lectures, hands-on computing practical and poster sessions on the occasion of the 8th ESA EO Summer School. I’m delighted to share about crowdsourcing, microtasking and building research programmes.

ESA Summer School

Applications are open until APRIL 6th, 2016.

The two-week course, held in ESA/ESRIN (near Rome, Italy) during August aims to provide students with an integrated end-to-end perspective going from measurement techniques to end-user applications. Courses include lectures covering issues related to Remote Sensing, Earth System Modelling and Data Assimilation as well as hands-on computing exercises on the processing of EO data. Students have the opportunity to present their work during a poster session. The three best posters will receive an award from the European Meteorological Society (EMS). Keynote lectures on global change issues are also given to discuss the current state of the science of global change and its relationship to society in order to help students appreciate how their specific field fits into a broader scientific and political context. For more information, please see previous programme, news or video.

Hope to see you there!


Bring Crowdsourcing Home – Crowdsourcing Fire and Floods

It is a goal to bring Crowdsourcing home in 2011. Our CrisisCommons Toronto team attended a meeting with the Ontario Government, Ministry of Natural Resources on January 18, 2011. It was an honour to have our first official Canadian provincial government meeting.

I presented this overview to attendees. Crisismapper volunteers from Russia and Australia provided some input with their lessons learned for fire crowdsourcing implementations. This is the power of global volunteer technology communities. We had a great discussion about barriers in remote regions, mapping techniques and government policy. Over 75% of forest fires reported in Ontario are by the public. We intend to use the latest tools available to share with mapping visual information.

Officials were very receptive to continuing our discussions. I will post the next steps as they evolve.



Haiti Seminar: Communications and Volunteers

On Monday, I had the distinct honour to participate in a seminar at York University: The Haiti Earthquake of Jan 2010: Lessons Learned.“. Brian Chick and I were on a panel with Kenneth Kidd of the Toronto Star: Role of the Local, National and International Media; Communication Challenges; Reality, Myths, and Perception Issues.

Presenting at York University
(Photo by Morgen Peers)

The responder was Jean Claude Louis of Janos Canada/Caribbean. He talked about the plight of Haitian Journalists and their communities. Janos has a number of future projects focused on Haitian stories. Jean mentioned a site focused on children’s stories: “Voice of the Children“(in Kreyol). I mentioned that Carel Pedre, a Haitian radio announcer collaborated on a CrisisCamp project:The New Haiti Project.

The audience was happy to hear that CrisisCommons will be released a CrisisCamp After Action Report about our activities: a project that I contributed consultant work to CrisisCommons. One other question asked us whether we had contacts in Haiti during our effort. I responded that our value is in supporting the existing Crisis Response Organizations. The report will be released in the coming weeks.

Communication and Volunteers
Presented by Heather Leson and Brian Chick
January 10, 2011

Each of the presenters provided their lessons learned and perspectives. Humanitarian aid in Haiti was a difficult and, at times, daunting, endeavor. All of the presentations will be posted on the York University site in the coming days.

This is a time of reflection for anyone whose life was touched by the emergency response efforts in Haiti. Last night I watched TVO’s program: “Inside Disaster“. The volunteers and Haitians provided an overwhelming picture of life just days after the earthquake. I remain in awe of the efforts of humanitarian workers and hope that some day new media and communications volunteers can truly make a difference and assist.


Traveling the Open Web

If learning is about the diverse journeys, then travel metaphors seem appropriate. Mozilla Drumbeat’s Learning, Freedom and the Web brought over 400 people to Barcelona, Spain for a 3-day event. Normally, I save highly personal introspective writing for other spaces. But, there is value in reflection on the greater journey of learning and the open web.

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona Spain

What do Traveling and the Open Web have in Common?

Accessible to Novices
I’m a novice, armchair traveler. In fact, I own every Pico Iyer book and am obsessed with travel shows and movies. But, I am new to feeding my wanderlust. Attending the festival meant that I had to grapple with awkward, disorienting and exasperating moments that come with travel. Love it! While I’ve previously traveled to Australia, Ireland, Dominican Republic (resort) and throughout Canada and the United States, Barcelona offered brand new lessons. First off, I have become so reliant on my smart phone for directions, planning and networking that it was hard to be off-network. Traveling is about happenstance. You can advance plan, but there are still moments when a physical map or guide would help. Just like the Open Web, cities are completely accessible if you seek the opportunity to find a common language and navigate the discomfort of new experiences with a smile.

Back up your Data
A new friend was robbed at night walking in a public square. She lost her passport, money, safety and energy. All the travel guides that tell you to use a money belt and only carry a photocopy of your passport. What they don’t give is a human face of a ruined trip and the pall of fear that settles on the victim and their companions. It was a huge teaching moment and a very real experience in Barcelona. As a dreamer and wanderer, this could easily have been my story. As a geek, I know to plan for privacy, security, phishing attacks and backing up my offline and online data. The Open Web has to grapple with these barriers. But, it our responsibility as early adopters and change agents to teach and to share this knowledge in accessible ways across multiple communication channels, languages and learning styles. And, we need to have alternate/backup plans when things go awry.

Group Travel
We mostly traveled in groups during the event. Fortunately, late nights included new friends walking each other to hotels. Learning can sometimes be more rewarding in groups. It provides the opportunity for laughter and exploration in a safe way while capitalizing on the best knowledge available. With CrisisCommons, we are are focused on crowdsourcing and collaboration. We are traveling in a corner of the Open Web that builds an ever evolving community reliant on collaboration, trust and the best available knowledge.

Torben and Stian

Torben and Stian hanging out in the Badge Lab, Drumbeat

Make New Friends
Traveling to a new place provides an opportunity to make new friends. Drumbeat had a large safety net of old friends and new collaborators; the event was full of brilliant, engaging minds. Often, we found ourselves wandering around the city after connecting at sessions. I met people from Argentina, Brazil, Norway, Germany, UK, Ireland, Italy and Austria. And, of course, attendees from across Canada and the US. While it wasn’t a complete global event, there is an opportunity to grow in that direction. An Open Web cannot be built in a vacuum. This needs to start somewhere. I’m a firm believer that great things have been started as a result of the connections of Open Web and Open Education advocates united at Drumbeat. We made new friends and explored ways to create these spaces.

Getting Lost
My favourite part of traveling is independent wandering. This was somewhat curtailed by the fear of robbery. Fortunately, I found a work-around patch by way of a bicycle tour which afforded me the opportunity to explore with some sense of independence. Not being able to freely walk around at night was the hardest part about this trip for me. Now, I think about travel with the layer of accessibility, safety and fear. Learning this navigation in Barcelona is completely invaluable. It will help me move from a novice traveler someday. Open Web advocates need to find ways to open these very doors of accessibility, fear of change and learning styles. Without doing this, we will be at the same stage next year talking to ourselves rather than stirring it up on a larger scale. We need to get lost and be independent of our common alliance. This will allow us to share rather than tell.

Architecture teaches you
Barcelona is full of beauty with architectural brilliance from Gaudi to Gehry to Meir that can stop your breath. It teaches you perspective, design, spatial awareness and more. It is a moment of discovery to explore new visions of urbanism. The Drumbeat event was full of great moments and ideas that offered similar experiences. The Open Web is full of this opportunity to be jaw-droppingly awesome. But we need to consider the architecture around us. We can compliment and create spaces large and small that allow for imagination and spirit.

Attending Mozilla Drumbeat Festival of Learning, Freedom and the Web was a true honour. Thank you to Mozilla for the great opportunity to be on this journey. Special thanks to Mark Surman, Mitchell Baker, Allen Gunn, Nathaniel James, Matt Thompson, Matt Garcia, Kate Guernsey, Yolanda Hippensteele, Maria Sole, and all the Mozilla crew. More thanks as well to the new friends, innovators, and instigators I encountered.

(I will write a separate post on the content of the Drumbeat event. )



Random Hacks of Kindness – Toronto

Random Hacks of Kindness 2.0 (RHoK)

is in Toronto on December 4 – 5, 2010. This is the first Canadian RHoK event and the 3rd global event.


Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is a community of developers, geeks and tech-savvy do-gooders around the world, working to develop software solutions that respond to the challenges facing humanity today. RHoK is all about using technology to make the world a better place by building a community of innovation. RHoK brings software engineers together with disaster relief experts to identify critical global challenges, and develop software to respond to them. A RHoK Hackathon event brings together the best and the brightest hackers from around the world, who volunteer their time to solve real-world problems.

Calling all Brains

We will need Hackers, storytellers, software engineers, programmers, university students, marketers, web content creators, emergency planners,international policy and development students, teachers, librarians, videographers, event planners, organizers, project managers and YOU. Creating humanitarian software in a hackathon is a very special collective collaboration.

Participants can select from a number of problem definitions. (These will be posted in the new few weeks.)

Video screens and online tools like IRC, blogs, wikis and more tools will connect the world. You could be collaborating with any of these countries to solve problems and brainstorm. Yes, there is even some healthy competition in store.

Help us make this global event RHoK. RHoK 2.0 is happening in Toronto (Canada), Chicago (USA), Berlin (Germany), Bangalore(India), Mexico City(Mexico), New York(New York), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Aarhus (Denmark), Nairobi (Kenya) and Lusaka (Zambia).


Register for RHoK Toronto
Date: December 4, 2010: 9:00am – December 5, 2010 8pm. ALL NIGHT
Location: University of Toronto, 100 St. George Ave. Sid Smith, Rooms 2015,2016,2019,2020

Tshirts and stickers will be provided.


We are looking for food and beverage sponsors for the RHOK 2.0 event. We will need food and drinks for 30-50 volunteers for 6 meals.
Please contact Heather AT textontechs.com or @heatherleson

Thank you to University of Toronto, Idee Inc, TinEYE and HackTO for sponsoring the event.

More on RHOK 1.0

Last June I had the awesome honour to participate in RHoK 1.0 -Sydney, Australia. It was amazing to support and promote their efforts. Check out a RHoK 1.0 video from the event


Crowdsourcing the Commons

TechSoup Canada hosted NetSquared Tuesday on October 19, 2010. I had the pleasure of sharing the CrisisCommons/CrisisCamp story with attendees. The second part of the talk was to provide participants tips and lessons learned about crowdsourcing. I also gave people some homework to consider adding Crowdmap to their own crowdsourcing mix for local NGOs and NFPs.

(Wow, I posted this two days ago on Slideshare and it has 118 views. Thanks!)


Macrowikinomics Launches!

Don Tapscott’s Macrowikinomics is launching with Discovery Day: a global meet-up for community collaboration across organizations. The aim is to unite innovators to share an event celebrating the power of crowdsourcing and collaboration. Celina Agaton, a consultant for Tapscott and CrisisCamp Toronto volunteer, provided the following details on the event:

Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World presents new models of collaboration where social innovators and entrepreneurs participate in large-scale cultural, political, and economic systems in ways that were previously impossible.

Inspired by the opportunities in mass collaboration, Macrowikinomics Discovery Day brings together innovation groups from across communities and around the world for the first time on October 10, 2010.

Meet fellow social changers, educators, entrepreneurs and other people that are interested in making our communities better. Get to know people in your neighbourhood or around the world. Learn. Explore. Connect!

Our partners include Mozilla Drumbeat, Netsquared, 350.org, See Click Fix and Meetup.com.

Good Luck with the event and congratulations on your #1 bestseller Don!

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