Computer Scientists and Rescue Global Enhance Crowdsourcing Techniques for Sustainable Disaster Relief

News Post date July 29, 2019

Southampton researchers have partnered with WeRobotics and Rescue Global for the project, which will draw conclusions that are relevant for all humanitarian relief, citizen science and crowdsourcing projects that struggle to maintain engagement. Drones provide a cheap, fast and detailed means of capturing aerial images in disaster zones, especially when compared to helicopters and satellites. The analysis of this content can now be crowdsourced to people across the globe thanks to modern mobile technologies, enabling aid workers to coordinate recovery efforts effectively from the ground.

“High levels of media coverage can attract a lot of volunteers to analyse drone footage during an emergency, but the number of participants can drastically decrease once the media attention fades...This reduced participation can have a troubling impact on communities’ long term recovery, with less reliable data making it difficult to keep information up to date and assign resources in an effective manner.”

Scientists will first explore strategies such as task variation and sequencing to test if they could sustain analysis in post-disaster and development scenarios. They will then investigate how experts and volunteers learn over time, acquiring skills and motivation to conduct more difficult analysis of drone footage.

“We have a strong ethos of working with practitioners and co-creating research questions and tackling these questions with them. WeRobotics and RescueGlobal will be helping us validate the crowdsourcing techniques we will develop within the project, bringing to bear their experience deploying such platforms in the real-world.”

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