Client: Office of Naval Research (ONR), Office of Innovation
Mission Area: Science & Technology
As the internet has evolved from a basic research and communications tool to a more interactive forum, its applicability for national security challenges has also evolved. One such development is that of crowdsourcing, where solutions are sought from large groups of participants not generally associated with any one organization. Benefits of this approach include an exclusive focus on the ‘sourced’ problem, unique perspectives and a general disregard for traditional communications protocols. This means a sailor can feel free to speak out of turn and anonymously offer an idea that differs from his or her admiral. All of this aids in producing uninhibited and creative alternatives.
ANSER, an operating unit of Analytic Services, is helping the Office of Naval Research (ONR) harness the benefits of crowd sourcing through an innovative pilot program called “Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI)”. MMOWGLI blends gaming and social media tools to crowd source solutions to complex problems. ONR and the Naval Postgraduate School recently launched MMOWGLI with an initial application addressing a piracy scenario off the coast of Somalia. The idea captured the attention of the national news media and was widely publicized. MMOWGLI’s registration page saw more than 16,000 users pre-register from various national security communities, academia and the general public. Round one of MMOWGLI gameplay started on May 31st with 2,000 players, and resulted in:
Economist and Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling once stated: “One thing a person cannot do, no matter how rigorous his analysis, or heroic his imagination, is to draw up a list of things that would never occur to him.” To survive in today’s flat world requires a cautious approach to sharing ideas however it also requires a flexible, collaborative approach to problem solving. To learn more about how crowdsourcing helped the Navy find things that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred to them, please visit the game blog at:
The word “crowdsourcing” as a term was first introduced by Jeff Howe in Wired magazine in 2006 but use of group intelligence is as old as mankind itself. The ancient Greeks and river civilizations all used a form of crowdsourcing with one major limitation … the participants had to be physically present. Modern telecommunications and the internet have allowed for a scaling of collaborative group thinking never seen before. ANSER continues to help its government clients harness the power of social media to address problems of national importance.
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