The Ideas Behind (and Benefits of) Crowdsourcing your Data Collection

There is this concept in the world of Big Data known as Crowdsourcing.  My friend Merriam-Webster of Dictionary-fame defines the term as “the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” Now, that’s a lot of words arranged in a way that probably isn’t clear to everyone, so we here at Tactical Edge try to make it a little simpler and say it’s the “passive collection of data.”

Data collection is one of the most important (and DULL) jobs there is.  Reason being, there is a lot of downstream importance with getting timely and accurate information in to hands of management. You can’t get accurate insight without first having correct data, and yet it is so easy to input data incorrectly.  This isn’t to vilify anyone who enters the incorrect information – we have all made that mistake at some point.  Whether it be a simple typo or the misreading of your notes when you get back in front of a computer, which is easier to do when you consider the sheer number of records that often need to be updated.  But regardless of the reason it was made, there is one undeniable truth – it is impossible to get real information from fake data.

The idea of passively collecting data is collecting accurate and timely data of interest, without the Crowdsourcing data collectionneed to manually input the data on a cellphone or computer device.  So, using our ITV solution, an Inventory Coordinator in charge of managing the contents of a Distribution Warehouse could update the location of assets within that Warehouse by simply walking by containers tagged with a smart sensor.  To do this, the coordinator would need our Telemetry mobile app downloaded on their Android phone and to tag containers with inexpensive Bluetooth and/or NFC sensors, and let our solution do the rest. The sensors reach out to the phone as the coordinator walks within range, transmits its current location (along with any other relevant details that are associated with it when the asset is initially tagged), and the Telemetry app handles syncing that information with the database.  And it handles the collection of data from ALL the sensors that it comes into range of, meaning that as the coordinator is walking the warehouse, they are also potentially updating multiple records simultaneously  (which is where the “crowd” in “crowdsourcing” comes from).  Now that information is available to whoever is consuming the data feed – whether it be other LOG systems, desktop users, or other Telemetry users, and they have the most accurate information available because in real time the shipment updated its location without requiring anyone to punch in a key.

So the benefits of Crowdsourcing Data, or passively collecting data, are really twofold:

  • Removing the human from the loop can produce more accurate information, as systems are built and tested to ensure the accuracy of the data collection. And
  • The reduction in manpower costs as Inventory Coorinators are no longer required to manually input update information when it changes (which, depending on how busy the Distribution Center is, could be a full-time job).
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