On June 28, officials from USAID met at the Wilson Center to discuss a recent experiment in using crowdsourcing to help clean up and map data on development loans. The agency had 117,000 records on private loans made possible by their Development Credit Authority, which theoretically could be mapped and made available to the public. The problem? Location data for the loans was not standard and was difficult to parse. USAID decided to turn to “the crowd” and recruit interested volunteers from the Standby Task Force and GISCorps – two online volunteer communities – to help clean the data, making it available for additional analysis.
Shadrock Roberts, Stephanie Grosser, and D. Ben Swartley – all with USAID – discussed the results of the project. They were able to clean up the information at virtually no cost to the government, noting that they hope it will be an example for further collaboration between government and engaged volunteers.