Micro-Volunteering as Part of Your Ambient Mobile Platform

Your standing on the street corner and your waiting for your bus. You have 3 minutes until it arrives, what can you do? Imagine if you could use that time to volunteer and give something back to your city and community.

Micro-volunteering is a new term being thrown around that would allow every day citizens to gather data and give back, in a way that would allow for organizations and city government to potentially make our cities a better place.

The City of Boston is exploring the myriad of ways that they can crowd-source their city operations, with initiatives like report a pot hole, which is part of their citizen connect program. There are thousands of citizens at any moment standing around the city with smart phones in hand–how do we harness this collective power?

This year at SXSW, which tends to feature the latest in mobile technology and apps, the concept of ambient social apps seems to be the dominate mobile trend. Ambient social apps run in the background of your smart phone, looking for other people who are part of your social network, or potentially share similar interests, and then push notifications to you alerting of different social opportunities around you.

What if micro-volunteering could be built into ambient mobile applications, scanning your surrounding looking for opportunities to give back by gathering data or snapping a photo, providing some valuable data points that can be used in everyday city operations and to better understand the world around us.

I think there are so many opportunities to harness the power we hold in our hands, via our smart phones. Introducing micro-volunteering opportunities to local citizens, empowering to give back to their city in small bite size chunks, while they are waiting for the bus or heading to their favorite restaurant for dinner just makes sense.

Micro-Volunteering should be part of every mobile platform.

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