A soon to debut crowdsourcing website in China has asked pedestrians and cyclists to identify areas in need of repair or improvement in Beijing. Developed by Beijing Transport Research Center and the World Bank, the website is aimed at helping transportation planners in the municipal government to know how roads and sidewalks are being used by the public, and where changes may be needed. Anyone can submit a mini report on issues related to quality of cycling and walking infrastructure as they discover, via web, smart phone apps, SMS or social media. All user-generated reports are then mapped and visualized, available for others to view and comment on. Transport planners in Beijing hope to collect feedback from citizens on urban transport conditions, so as to build them safer and more accessible transportation solutions.
Crowdsourced reporting platforms are changing the top-down nature of how news is gathered and disseminated by placing reporting tools in the hands of citizens, allowing any individual to instantly broadcast about the situation around them. Another good example of hyperlocal reporting is the mobile application Everyblock. The app allows citizens to join in the neighborhood conversation around improving their immediate surroundings by reporting on local issues of concern.
Another recent example of using local citizen reporting to solve larger issues is the website safecity.in. The India-based service is designed specifically to assist women combat examples of sexual harassment, by encouraging them to ‘pin the creeps’, and help reduce the risk of rape.
In another recent example, the crowdsourced database Hatebase is a dedicated online platform that allows users to record location-specific examples of hate speech witnessed in their communities. Created by the Sentinel Project, the ambitious project is an attempt to build an early warning system that can help identify communities at risk for genocide.
Often using mobile phone technology, these hyperlocal reporting systems not only provide real-time, location specific data, but also boost civic engagement by establishing direct channels of communication from the ground up, while helping to ensure community well-being by rapidly documenting potentially harmful incidents.