An Oregon technology company launched a Web site today to capture suggestions of the world’s best and brightest on innovative solutions for stopping BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has reportedly received 10,000 phone calls and 60,000 e-mails offering solutions since last month’s disaster. The Web site is intended as a vehicle to organize these ideas, through the use of "crowdsourcing", to encourage new thinking and promote collaboration among interested people around the world. Crowdsourcing refers to the concept that the wisdom of crowds, if harnessed, can usually provide the best answer.
"We believe the answer to capping the oil spill may emerge through the collaborative efforts of disparate individuals worldwide, from every-day tinkerers to professional scientists in the farthest corners of the world," said Dan Afrasiabi, president of Portland's ARM Insight. "Technology allows us to invite people with different talents and ideas to jump in to this collaborative forum where every idea is welcomed."
The site, http://www.whatshouldBPdo.com, has an innovative strategy itself. Idea contributors, whether an innovative farmer in Omaha, an engineering visionary in Russia, or perhaps a high school physics teacher in Brazil, can post their ideas and all site visitors can vote for their favorite idea. The most innovative ideas then quickly rise to the top of the list because they have the most votes. Dan Afrasiabi hopes BP experts will monitor the website for the best and most innovative ideas.
“We believe that complex problems require revolutionary solutions” said Afrasiabi. “Few problems require the urgent cooperation of global brain-power in the way the oil spill crisis does. Our hope is to quickly uncover the solution to this problem and at the same time produce a wealth of ideas to prevent or minimize the effect of future accidents which are likely to occur as the global hunt for deep water sources of energy continues.”