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Shouldn’t the BP oil spill be a crowdsourcing “Grand Challenge”?

Obviously everyone is familiar with the incredibly tragic damage that continues to take place while I write and you read this regarding the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

There will be plenty of time for everyone to weigh in on how this was allowed to happen and not able to be fixed when a solution is put in place. In the meantime, and given that clearly BP doesn’t seem to be big on social media solutions, why is the U.S. government not promoting this as one of its (immediate) Grand Challenges and soliciting ideas and collaborative improvements that might provide closure?

It would seem to me that it would be an ideal situation in which to leverage everything that you have, including the best, most divergent minds from across the world. Yes, there is no doubt that having an understanding of the situation and the applicability of solutions in such a complicated problem would be something to overcome. However, with the proper secondary review in place, that is a small hurdle taken against the ideas that would very likely come forward.

I am not really sure who is waiting for what at this point. We are still in May and BP is talking about a potential solution in place for August. Can we really afford to not exhaust all avenues in a situation like this? I am sure of one thing…implementing a Grand Challenge crowdsourcing exercise around the BP oil spill will not move us backwards at this point.

Would love to hear what others think and if we cannot put pressure on the U.S. federal government to take this step.

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Gary Berg-Cross


Good question. There was some related questions and discussions posted by me around the discussionn “Crowd sourcing artificial life and its ethical issues” Posted by Gary Berg-Cross on May 21, 2010

As I said there people are providing observations and also solution ideas for the crisis.

For example, Gulfcoastspill.com has been setup to help.

The site was developed with the help of the Scotland-based web development company EdgeCase.

Through Gulfcoastspill, eyewitnesses can log sightings of the spill (oil on beaches, injured wildlife and volunteer activities etc.), recording their position and uploading photos, videos and comments. There’s also, inevitably a tie-in with Twitter and a mobile app for both Android and iPhone.