Crowd-sourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, normally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community. An open call is made to bring people together in a common task, what usually happens is those best suited for the task step up and make it happen. Through Web 2.0. everybody can contribute information to the Web, making it the perfect vehicle for crowd-sourcing.
The recent nuclear situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been the recent target of crowdsourcing. People who live in and around the Fukushima prefecture are collaborating online to plot local radiation levels. A website called RDTN.org is the online gathering point for those taking part in the scheme, there they can submit their own radiation readings which are then mapped together with official data. The major issue with this is that people will have to purchase their own radiation detection device which typically cost around $47.
Current levels of radiation based on submitted readings are showing at 0.178-0.678 microsieverts per hour in and around Onuma Hitachi City. These levels are not worrying but much higher than usual. The news coming out of the Fukushima Daiichi plant differs day to day, hope is given by the recent restoration of power to some of the nuclear reactors, but again today workers have evacuated due to smoke coming from one of the reactors. More bad news comes in the complele restriction of food products from Fukushima and locals living near the plant must not drink the tap water due to high levels of radioactive iodine.
Online crowd-sourcing is certainly a tool that can be utilised to help in a multitude of situations. It gives the perfect opportunity for normal people to get involved in mapping phenonena of all kinds, imagine the amount of time and money that can be saved for the scientist if people can take readings and load them up to a website. After the recent devastation in Japan it is hoped that online crowd-sourcing can help with rebuilding efforts, including water filtration technologies, shelter and building techniques, and tsunami warning systems.