Crowdsourcing is a new way of sourcing people who voluntarily want to help or work on a project. This allows us to have enough resources and time, and to transform into high possibility of manpower. Crowdsourced mapping has been useful in disasters before. In the case of a missing plane, crowdsourcing helps to eliminate areas of the maps where there is any signs of oil, so experts can focus on analyzing more promising leads. It has also widely used for searching a disappeared Malaysian Airlines Flight, MH370.
Since the flight MH370 disappeared on March 23, 2014 with 239 people on board, millions of Internet users have joined search teams from 26 nations hunting for any signs of the missing plane. This crowdsourced online helped in the search for the missing jet, and it has been the most massive and the largest crowdsourcing project.
It is a valuable method because it allows us to save time and leads us to approach to the best possible answers. In the case of MH370, people from various locations have looked for the satellite imagery for the possible evidence of oil slicks, wreckage or survivors. Through social networking sites such as Reddit and DigitalGlobe, searchers have involved and shared their findings from the satellite image search by tagging photos and posting threads about Flight MH370. Malaysian newspapers received numerous information and tips from people claiming that they found places for possible oil slicks.
Another advantage of crowdsourcing is cost-savings. With all information from people, Malaysian government could save resources and minimize costs for searching the plane. It also allowed the government to speculate the case with the broad view. Malaysian authorities have expanded the search area to include a region west of the takeoff point.
Even though it has given us great advantages for solving the puzzles, we should know that there are possible disadvantages of this tool.
1) Crowdsourcing does not guarantee that all information have sufficient quality
: People participate via online, and there will be lack of reliability since we do not know whether the source is from experts or random people. We should question about the reliability of all sources.
2) There are time costs that are needed for filtering the information
: There might be little or no relevance and value, so we need some experts to figure out which information is reliable or not. This will generate more time and costs.
3) There are people who intend to trick the information and create chaos.
: How are we going to measure the searchers’ contributions and their authentication? It is hard to find which information is wrong.
Crowdsourcing is not a method for everything. In order to use it successfully and effectively, we should aware that there are disadvantages, and it is not a method for solving problems and finding answers. Using it with strategies will give us possible approaches to solving problems.