Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework: Designing Strategic Configurations of Crowdsourcing for the Emergency Management Domain

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Crowdsourcing is not a new practice but it is a concept that has gained substantial attention during recent disasters. Drawing from previous work in the crisis informatics, disaster sociology, and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) literature, this paper first explains recent conceptualizations of crowdsourcing and how crowdsourcing is a way of leveraging disaster convergence. The CSCW concept of “articulation work” is introduced as an interpretive frame for extracting the salient dimensions of “crisis crowdsourcing.” Then, a series of vignettes are presented to illustrate the evolution of crisis crowdsourcing that spontaneously emerged after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and evolved to more established forms of public engagement during crises. The best practices extracted from the vignettes clarified the efforts to formalize crisis crowdsourcing through the development of innovative interfaces designed to support the articulation work needed to facilitate spontaneous volunteer efforts. Extracting these best practices led to the development of a conceptual framework that unpacks the key dimensions of crisis crowdsourcing. The Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework is a systematic, problem-driven approach to determining the why, who, what, when, where, and how aspects of a crowdsourcing system. The framework also draws attention to the social, technological, organizational, and policy (STOP) interfaces that need to be designed to manage the articulation work involved with reducing the complexity of coordinating across these key dimensions. An example of how to apply the framework to design a crowdsourcing system is offered with a discussion on the implications for applying this framework as well as the limitations of this framework. Innovation is occurring at the social, technological, organizational, and policy interfaces enabling crowdsourcing to be operationalized and integrated into official products and services.