GeoTag-X’s experience as a #Mozsprint 2015 project

This guest post is by Valentina Rigamonti and Eleanor Rusack, project leaders for the GeoTag-X project at the recent Mozilla Science Global Sprint. Follow GeoTag-X on twitter, too.

On June 4-5, GeoTag-X joined the second Mozilla Science Lab Global sprint as a project at the CERN Ideasquare. Disaster response efforts have to analyse massive amounts of data that are produced during a crisis; GeoTag-X is a research project that will assess if we can teach volunteers to recognise the important information in a photo and create relevant, structured datasets that can be used by those working on the ground in the response. In the end, we want to know if GeoTag-X could be a useful tool in an operational context.

The Mozilla Sprint aims to strengthen ties within the open science community by giving people a chance to work together to learn and build useful tools. GeoTag-X couldn’t miss the opportunity to take part in such an event and put forward a data sprint, asking people to get on the site, test it out, and analyse as many photos as possible.

As a global event, work began on the morning of Thursday, June 4, in New Zealand and Australia, with other countries joining in as they woke up. As the Americas were finishing up their first day, Australia and New Zealand were waking up and getting back into it for a second day of hack and discussions. Participants from all over the world took part in the many different projects – GeoTag-X saw analysts logging on from the US, Europe, Russia, India, and China (among many others).

For GeoTag-X the event was a resounding success. Our main goal for the sprint was to have as many photos of the Winter Shelter Application as possible analysed by 20 pair of eyes and we got through 420 of them. Furthermore, we doubled our previous daily record of users on the website. We had 36 new volunteers creating an account, increasing our total active volunteers from 43 to nearly 80. Three of these new analysts went through more than 100 photos each – the most efficient getting through 155 in one afternoon, a great achievement!

At the end of the day the #Mozsprint 2015 turned out to be extremely helpful for many reasons. Not only did GeoTag-X have the most analyst activity ever, but it also gained an immense visibility, helping us to kickstart the process of building our community of volunteer analysts. With the data collected in the different projects we can start the data analysis process and begin to evaluate GeoTag-X as a tool in humanitarian response. Thanks to the feedback we obtained from visitors we will be making some improvements to the website. Being based at CERN we also had the chance to have some fascinating discussions with really motivated people that have given us more ideas on how to improve and move forward on GeoTag-X.

Our experience as part of the Mozilla Science Lab Global Sprint was one of our most successful events so far and was an excellent chance to test our platform. We couldn’t be happier and more thankful for the great commitment we saw from those who were involved in our project, but we aren’t finished yet.

Over the next few months we will be part of several more events, including a second data sprint over the 27th and 28th of June, and a presentation at CRI’s Night Science event in Paris on the 10th July. We will also participate in the Openseventeen challenge launched by One – in collaboration with the Citizen Cyberscience Centre – to develop crowdsourcing projects that tackle Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using open data. Stay tuned and let’s see what the future holds.