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Federal Crowdsourcing May Solve Problems Fast

June 18, 2012View for printing

The concept of crowdsourcing is not new, although current media reports may suggest otherwise. Long before modern crowdsourcing systems were developed, a number of projects took place that tapped the general population to help solve complex problems. The French government, for example, proposed several types of these competitions dating back to the 1700s. The Alkali Prize was awarded to a Frenchman in 1783 who won a competition in which the public was challenged with figuring out how to separate salt from alkali. In 1714, the British government established the Longitude Prize for anyone who could figure out a simple and practical method for the precise determination of a ship's longitude -- a problem that came into sharp focus as people began making transoceanic voyages.

By Justine Brown

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