Idlesourcing – a novel way of monitoring and reporting environmental risk?

  • Individuals often want to contribute information to help our environment, but knowing how and where to act is difficult.
  • Idlesourcing has made it simple (if not effortless) for individuals to contribute information to online resources in other fields. For example, road users can feed traffic information into Mobile apps (e.g. Waze), allowing others to plan their route to avoid traffic. In the US, city officials get real-time info on jams using mobile geo-tagging data.
  • considers idlesourcing to be a growing consumer trend in 2012.
  • The applications and benefits in all types of environmental risk could be huge. Users could take geo-tagged pictures of wildlife to aid biodiversity modelling. Gardeners or growers could send geo-tagged pictures of unusual pests for plant health monitoring.
  • Pollution issues could be reported by the public into a central system, and inspectors could track and share information in real time.
  • Social media technologies have been used in crisis scenarios such as the Haiti earthquake and tsunamis, but less frequently for day to day environmental reporting.

Investment in idlesourcing technologies could reduce the workload of government inspectors, improve monitoring with fewer resources, and improve community engagement in environmental issues.

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About Hayley Shaw

Knowledge Exchange Manager at Cranfield University's Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF). Sharing the latest news from Cranfield, and insights from across the industry. All things risk, environment, and the future.
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