CrisisCommons’ Gulf Oil Spill Response Project

Gulf Oil Birds, picture from CrisisCommons is working hard with a number of other organizations, including NGOs and educational institutions, to develop a common crowdsourced platform for reporting the effects of the Gulf Oil Spill. We believe that if the various crowdsourcing efforts could be aggregated and shared, this could improve the response from all response organizations. From the Oil Spill Response Wiki Project Page:

Purpose: To encourage citizen reporting of effects and share their story of the oil spill on the gulf region, provide safety information, connect the public with volunteer opportunities.

Citizen reporting data will include on qualitative data elements such as photos, video, time/date, location as well as qualitative elements such as free text field. All data reported will be shared back via in open and accessible data feeds to be freely available for anyone, including response organizations and academic institutions, to import data and create open tools to allow for visualization, aggregation and analysis. Initial tools for this project will include:

  • Commons Mobile Application: Provide citizens with access to smart phone devices, a free mobile application to allow for them to report what they see, do’s and don’ts (safety information/training videos), share their story, and find local volunteer opportunities. The reporting feature of the application would capture geotagged, time-stamped pictures and videos as quantifiable data along with text fields for providing qualitative data. Reporting information will be posted as open and accessible data streams on to allow that all public reporting data is open and accessible. Other features could include “RSS news feed” “Headlines” “My Reports” “Weather”
  • Oil Spill Widget: Provide the public and response organizations with a widget directing them to information sources. Provide a page on the web site to sign up for widgets.
  • Localization of the Commons Mobile Application: The mobile application and its codebase will be freely available for NGOs and response organization to rebrand and deploy to encourage their communities to report. (Future Feature)
  • Common Short Code: For citizens without smart phones/lightweight data collection approach to use a common short code provided by Mobile Commons to collect qualitative data sets. The short code would be available for anyone to use across area codes. Data from the short code will be shared via
  • Open Data Repository: Public posting of open data streams from the citizen reporting sources such as the Commons mobile app, short code and other citizen reporting data streams as well as a collection of relevant government data sources. This listing would enable any organization to share data to the public.
  • Visualization Resources: A listing of academic institutions and technical organizations who have volunteered to assist response organizations and open tools to provide visualization and analysis resources to utilize public data to provide information to augment situational awareness and operational action for response organizations.

We are working very hard to get something useful out quickly. To help participate in this effort please go to the Oil Spill Response Project Page.

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