In a recent article, Forbes discussed the future of weather forecasting. With new weather extremes rising all over the world, consumer computer technology and weather apps are already changing the forecast models we turn to on a daily basis. As we drive along, our cars would be collecting data, such as the temperature, when our lights are on, when we’ve used our anti-skid breaks and when our windshield wipers are on. Through GPS, which is also already imbedded in our cars through programs such as OnStar, this data could be relayed to a central location which could use it to tell consumers relevant facts about the weather and driving conditions in their area.
Technology is smart, but the idea of crowdsourcing and taking data from human actions is smarter than just relying on technology to give up-to-date news. Take this example of a seismograph that was only able to pick up limited data regarding a landslide in Alaska. A local blogger, however, was able to give the most helpful information and data just from his experience. People are out there, experiencing what other people want to know about. This is where the best data will come from.
Crowdsourcing is already beginning to make its appearance as a data source. Isn’t Google’s new tactic of predicting awards events by who is most commonly searched and talked about online a means of crowdsourcing? In addition, we use crowdsourcing as a means of determining what the most prevalent news is, by looking at what our Facebook and Twitter friends are sharing online.
I think crowdsourcing will work its way into a plethora of news circles beyond weather forecasting. If everyone was connected via GPS and the internet, which is only a small step into the future, newscasters could use crowdsourcing as a means for attaining data and footage for events happening right now, no matter how far away these events may be. Crowdsourcing would be a means of determining traffic reports, how crowded lines are at rides at amusement parks, what the newest fashion trends will be, and what it feels like to be across the globe participating in a riot, a ceremony, or a protest. People are there, and they are recording data and information even if they don’t even realize it. If the data collection is purposeful, that’s even better. Crowdsourcing isn’t just a new means of weather forecasting, it is the direction we are headed in as we search for the most effective way to attain information at faster speeds. We, as humans, are the best source for information across the globe, and the data is no farther than our phones in our pockets or in the consoles of our cars. Seven billion heads are better than one, and with the simple technology that links us all together, the need for more complex data models for relaying the news will become extraneous.