EFSA looks to weigh up the pros and cons of crowdsourcing tools
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said crowdsourcing could represent an ‘interesting’ means of it becoming an ‘open’ organization in that it would receive direct, meaningful contributions from individuals and groups beyond its panels and committee.
The aim of its procurement procedure, according to the tender specifications, is to explore the possibilities of citizen science and crowdsourcing through innovative use of technology.
EFSA wants the winner of the tender to provide “an inventory of successful experience” of crowdsourcing in scientific areas relevant to EFSA’s risk assessment activities as well as outlining the risks and benefits for the Authority of levering such technology.
It said the contractor assigned must also identify what motivated those particular crowds to participate.
The Authority noted greater complexity, where the analysis of big data is becoming a fundamental feature of scientific research, and increasing urgency imply considerable resource investments, both in financial and human capital terms, to provide scientific advice.
The company awarded this scoping exercise must also implement two crowdsourcing pilot tests — the exact nature of which would be finalized after discussion with EFSA, according to the tender document:
“The pilot studies would not necessarily require the development of a crowdsourcing IT platform. The contractor shall assess the existing crowdsourcing platforms in order to identify systems that could be suitable for implementing the pilot studies ….The results should be obtained, reviewed and presented in a report with a detailed section on lessons learnt.”
Stakeholder views sought
The firm awarded the tender must also identify the crowd that could be successfully engaged to perform crowdsourcing in areas relevant to EFSA’s risk assessment activities.
EFSA also wants an evaluation of how its stakeholders would perceive the use of crowdsourcing in its risk assessment work.
The EFSA tender specifications noted greater involvement and participation of a wider community could also hide potential risks, such as disproportionate influence of a limited number of actors or loss of control by the Authority over the content of a document.
The EFSA crowdsourcing tender process was launched in October 2015.