Crowdsourced Solutions That Are Out of This World

Posted by jartese on Mar 20, 2014 5:36:33 PM

asteroidIt seems that crowdsourced solutions are cropping up everywhere. And we do mean everywhere.

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has jumped into the crowdsoucing business. Its latest challenge is an Asteroid Data Hunter contest. You can access the challenge information here.

Why asteroids?

Why an asteroid data hunter challenge? "[T]o helping protect the planet from asteroid threats through image analysis,” according to NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) director, Jason Crusan.

Wait—NASA has a tournament lab director? Well, yes. It seems that NASA is serious about generating new ideas through crowdsourcing. It has a Prizes and Challenges Program executive and a Grand Challenges Program executive, too.

NASA's challenge mission

According to NASA’s press release, “The Asteroid Grand Challenge ... expands the agency's efforts beyond traditional boundaries and encourages partnerships and collaboration with a variety of organizations.” It appears that NASA believes that opening up its work to outside ideas will not only engender the best ideas for solving its exploration challenges, but also will extend its ability to engage the general public in excitement about the agency’s mission.

Clearly NASA has made crowdsourcing solutions a priority.

According to Jenn Gustetic, in charge of the Prizes and Challenges Program, “...we are harnessing the potential of innovators and makers and citizen scientists everywhere to help solve this global challenge.”

Since an asteroid barely missed Earth in 2012, we are all grateful to the agency for its newest challenge. And it seems that there are more reasons to be grateful.

Innovating with partnerships

Silicon Republic reports that “hurtling chunks of rock, ice and minerals” are out there, too, and they may have “huge potential.” Who knew? Chris Lewicki did.

Lewicki is President and Chief Engineer at Planetary Resources. Like many savvy innovators, NASA has developed this content partnership for this challenge.

Lewicki is cited as saying, “Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun.” And some of those may be “resource rich.” It seems there are a number of benefits to be reaped by this challenge.

NASA’s program for crowdsourced solutions is located at its Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) "to advance NASA open innovation efforts and extend that expertise to other federal agencies."

The bottom line is that NASA and its Harvard partners are looking to "enable a community of more than 600,000 designers, developers and data scientists to create the most innovative, efficient and optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges faced by NASA."

Engaging a universe of citizen scientists

NASA, long a resource of innovative ideas and products, continues to maintain its leadership role by reaching out to the universe of citizen scientists for crowdsourced solutions. Along the way, it also hopes its open challenges enhance our notions of how the agency’s mission benefits human kind.

Topics: Innovation Insights

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