Can Crowdsourcing Save the Planet? A Corporation Challenges the Public
A collaboration between Sony and the NGO WWF is seeking to crowdsource new ways of using Sony’s technology to help with environmental challenges. The OpenPlanet contest asks, “How can today’s technology help us make the most of our planet’s resources?”
Over 400 concepts were submitted and an “expert panel” honed that down to eight finalists. (I notice that the expert panel of nine includes only one woman, which seems rather backward-looking!) The public is invited to applaud, comment on, or refine the final concepts before a winner is chosen on January 11. The final concepts include:
- a dynamic map of drinking water
- a “green” online magazine where the reader is the hero
- a network of wireless weather stations for monitoring micro-climates
- an edutainment show to promote train travel
- a low-cost device to be inserted in trees to monitor for wildfires.
- a smart phone app to create a “green map” system
- a system to allow the identification and reporting on plants or animals to enhance conservation
- an enhanced carpool system that uses GPS and P2P technology to encourage ride sharing.
WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is involved because the contest aligns with their mission, “to build a future where people live in harmony with nature.” Corporations like Sony wield great power, and smart NGOs recognize and work with that fact. WWF states diplomatically, “We also believe that we can’t do everything alone. That’s why we have a long and successful track record of working in partnership with others – including some of the world’s leading companies – to raise standards, drive sustainability and bring about positive change.”
The involvement of the general public in creating innovation – crowdsourcing – really came to the fore in 2010, and promises to continue strongly in 2011. While the concepts submitted to the contest are of varying interest and applicability, the best part may be reading the public comments on the ideas. Much as with Care2 posts, the opportunity of discussing, arguing about and refining ideas with people around the world is one of the great gifts of the Internet, which we may have come to take for granted. Technological gizmos may not save the environment, but the engagement of bright minds across the planet is surely our best hope for a better world.
Learn more about the Open Planet challenge and the incorporation of crowdsourcing in this video:
Photo: Still from Open Planet video via YouTube