LA cops use crowdsourcing app to fight crime

Although almost two years old, this describes an app that allows people to record photos of crime, especially motivated in a setting of riots.  I include it because it includes some discussion of the liabilities of apps like this.

“People respond by going online or downloading the app on their smartphone and using it to send images and clips to “an electronic bucket,” as CitizenGlobal officials describe it, which police can sort through for evidence. Designers say users can post anonymously and should strip metadata from files they send.

“Developers acknowledge the possibility that content could be misleading or doctored, but authorities say they would investigate any tips they receive. Submitted photos and videos would be used to corroborate other information gathered during the investigation, authorities say.”

More at Fox News.
(Contributor: Tanvi Mehta)

LA cops use crowdsourcing app to fight crime

How mobile phones helped solve two murders


This is a bit old (2011) but interesting: a talk at TEDxThessaloniki about how two crimes were solved through a combination of investigative journalism and evidence assembled from the cellphones of a crowd of observers:

“Two murders sat unexplained and unsolved — until reporter Paul Lewis starting talking to bystanders who had evidence on their mobile phones. Step by step, Lewis pieced together their evidence and their stories to find justice for the victims. It’s the future of investigative journalism, powered by the crowd.”


For the first murder, the London Police put out a false story regarding the death of Ian Tomlinson, saying Tomlinson died of natural causes while walking through a protest in London. However, Lewis took to the internet to try to find more witnesses and information, and it eventually surfaced that Tomlinson was beaten to death by a Police officer in the streets.

The second murder involved the British Government covering up the murder of an Angolan political refugee while he was being deported. By taking to Twitter, witnesses on the flight came forward, it was uncovered that the victim, Jimmy Mubenga, was in fact strangled by security guards on the flight whilst they tried to restrain him.

More at
(Contributor: Kelly O’Shaughnessy)


How mobile phones helped solve two murders

Crowdsourced research: Many hands make tight work

This is an interesting article in a prominent venue (Nature) documenting that putting validation of research  findings in the hands of the people who produced the result isn’t as reliable as getting third parties to validate, and that crowdsourcing might provide an approach for doing this.


“Crowdsourcing research can reveal how conclusions are contingent on analytical choices. Furthermore, the crowdsourcing framework also provides researchers with a safe space in which they can vet analytical approaches, explore doubts and get a second, third or fourth opinion. Discussions about analytical approaches happen before committing to a particular strategy. In our project, the teams were essentially peer reviewing each other’s work before even settling on their own analyses. And we found that researchers did change their minds through the course of analysis.

“Crowdsourcing also reduces the incentive for flashy results. A single-team project may be published only if it finds significant effects; participants in crowdsourced projects can contribute even with null findings. A range of scientific possibilities are revealed, the results are more credible and analytical choices that seem to sway conclusions can point research in fruitful directions. What is more, analysts learn from each other, and the creativity required to construct analytical methodologies can be better appreciated by the research community and the public.”

More at Nature.
(Contributor: Hassan Haseeb)

Crowdsourced research: Many hands make tight work

Crowd-sourcing safety

Providing a mobile app to gather reports about safety issues in Delhi:

“SafetiPin is a United Nations-supported tool to enable development of safer cities through collection of data, crowd-sourcing, information sharing and engaging people to make the city a safer place. Users will be able to check the safety score of an area using the map-based app, which uses nine parameters to come up with the score.”

More at The Hindu.
(Contributor: Pragya Verma)

Crowd-sourcing safety

Nassim Nicholas Taleb rant

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has written popular books about the role of randomness and probability in our world (The Black SwanFooled by RandomnessAntifragile).  He recently posted a rant against ideas advocated by behavioral economists like Cass Sunstein (author of Infotopia), saying:

“What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.”

He doesn’t apparently believe in many of the results in the area, saying that it “comes from misunderstanding of probability theory”.

He also spoke about needing to not be democratic at times: “Things need cleaning up. Yesterday in a meeting a fellow said that the process always starts to be very complex and then someone comes in and simplifies it. You need, once in a while, to reset the system, reboot it and simplify the procedures. Periodically, it is a switch between consensus and someone who is pushy.”

More at his Facebook page and The Indian Times.
(Contributor: Sharadh Krishnamurthy)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb rant

‘EVE Online’ now rewards you for helping science

EVE Online lets players playa new minigame involving determining the roles of proteins in the body. If you’re an EVE Online player, give it a try and let us know more!

“Project Discovery is run by the Sisters of EVE (SoE). Their project lead, Professor Lundberg, will recruit you and provide a basic tutorial on identifying patterns of protein distribution in human cells. Upon completion you can analyze unique images fresh from the lab. For every task you solve, the SoE will reward you and increase your Project Discovery rank.”

More at Engadget and EVE Online.
(Ccontributor: John Bieren)


‘EVE Online’ now rewards you for helping science

The Secret Search Engine Tearing Wikipedia Apart

One of the reasons Wikipedia is as successful as it is is the governance structure that underlies it.  However, recent rumors of a secret search engine project has created a lot of tension within the organization.

“Over the weekend you may have heard news that the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that finances and founded Wikipedia, is interested in creating a search engine that appears squarely aimed at competing with Google. What you may not have heard is that this nascent project is tearing the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikipedia community apart.”

More at Motherboard.
(Contributor: Dan Sedra)

The Secret Search Engine Tearing Wikipedia Apart