Automated collection and verification of humanitarian information using crowdsourcing

Organisation: Stichting People’s Intelligence

Partners: Free Press Unlimited, Delft University of Technology, Liberia Peacebuilding Office, Technology Investment Group

Location: The Hague, The Netherlands; Testing - Liberia

Type of grant: Core – invention

Status: Completed


Summary

People’s Intelligence (PI) is an “Alert” winner of Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention. PI automates the collection of relevant quality humanitarian information from hard to access areas and verifies it by means of crowdsourcing and “dumb” mobile phones.

Upon successful development and deployment, PI will empower victims and witnesses by providing them with actionable information that can save lives in return for quality data about their location, type of incident suffered, number of victims and source of knowledge. Partnering organizations will receive early warnings and will be better informed and equipped to decide where to allocate resources and coordinate their efforts.

What humanitarian need is being addressed?

PI addresses many of the shortcomings of current documentation initiatives using crowdsourcing: lack of relevant and quality information, no or limited assessment of the reliability of the sources and the credibility of the collected information, reliance on the Internet, lack of feedback loops, and limited empowerment of those reporting information.

What is the innovative solution?

At the invention phase in the innovation process, PI will define the necessary functional requirements of the system in collaboration with humanitarian actors to automate (1) the reporting and collection of humanitarian information (2) the provision of actionable information to those reporting incidents, and (3) the attribution of reliability scores to a source as well as credibility scores to a piece of information to help organizations make a better use of their resources.

PI proposes to shift from current ad-hoc organization centric collection and verification processes towards permanent user centric information collection and verification processes. With PI, the users become active initiators and collaborators. Instead of monologues, we believe in conversationswhere victims and witnesses become initiators, are recognized as the real experts of their situation, and are guided in providing relevant and complete information in return for actionable information, while helping relief organizations in their decision making processes and resource allocation.

How does the innovation build on and improve existing humanitarian practice?

From a technological point of view, most existing crowdsourcing platforms operate along the same principles: gather (often incomplete) information from a multiplicity of sources, tag them either manually or automatically and present them in the form of a map, descriptive statistics or as a list of reports. None, however, seeks to engage in a dialogue with the victims and witnesses to collect better quality information and provide useful information in return. We’d like to turn this around as explained above.

What materials or research outputs are likely to be produced?

The first phase of the project will produce a series of user’s stories that will form the basis of a functional requirements analysis necessary to the design, development, testing and piloting of PI’s technology. Lessons learned will also be collected and shared during the entire life-cycle of the project.


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