Engagement of the crowd through technology to provide data and intelligence is going from strength to strength. Areas of data capture and analysis that were once only covered by specialists are now becoming more common place with the crowd as the active agents.
So for the more technical savvy crowd citizens who want to get their fingers dirty there are platforms which involve hardware to be added to provide data acquisition. This hardware usually comes in the form of an external device which feeds data events back to a centralised server for analysis.
A good example of this is the BlitzOrtung project (http://www.blitzortung.org/) which allows the user to become an active collector of lightning events in their region. The hardware device picks up electromagnetic signals generated by the lightning and feeds them back realtime via the internet to a centralised repository. This data is collected, visualised online, and made available for research purposes to all those who have signed up. There is no commercial gain to be made from participation – just a nice fuzzy feeling that you are part of the lightning crowd, and to be able to see your data be presented in the visualiser.
If becoming a crowd agent lightning rod is not your cup of tea then possibly tracking aircraft in the heavens is more attractive. With platforms like FlightRadar24 (http://www.flightradar24.com) offering the crowd a means to help in capturing aircraft data in their region. With the addition of a relatively cheap and simple hardware device the user can capture the realtime statistics of aircraft flying around them back to a centralised repository. This repository is then used for analysis and visualisation of the traffic in the heavens.
The number of active participants in these types of crowd data collection projects is evidence for the crowd’s thirst to be part of a bigger picture.