Crowdsourcing Kindness

September 12, 2011 By Aminda

The 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks was recognized in many ways this weekend but perhaps most notably through acts of service. Organizations around the U.S. rallied to encourage the entire nation to perform good deeds and acts of service in honor 9/11 victims, survivors and rescuers. Spreading acts of service is a global effort, with many creative new online platforms contributing. Here are some examples.

The United Nations Population Fund has launched an ambitious project to engage a global audience in bringing awareness to issues associated with a growing population, such as poverty and women’s rights. As part of the initiative, called 7 Billion Actions, the UN is soliciting stories about how people are making the world a better place. 7 Billion Stories is described as a collaborative initiative to collect and distribute stories that will inspire others to get involved and take action in helping create a better world.

One online organization that is contributing to collecting positive stories is Hero Reports. A non-profit dedicated to collecting reports of citizen courage and positive social behavior, Hero Reports began as a way to improve life in one of the most violent cities in the world. In the last two years since the site launched, residents of Juarez, Mexico have documented more than a thousand accounts of positive citizen actions, encouraging similar sites to be started in three other cities.

Patrick Meier, a Director at crisis mapping platform Ushahidi is enlisting partners to bring reality to another utilization of crowdsourcing platforms to spread positivity. His goal is to create a “happiness map”, to collect user-generated data on what happiness means and mapping it in real-time. Meier envisions features such as a smart phone application allowing people to “check in” with happiness status updates and subscriptions allowing users to receive updates from people in their vicinity. During the holiday season, the tool would encourage people to remember what they have to be happy and thankful for.

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