Six Billion Mobile Reporters

Six Billion Mobile Reporters

In this week's blogpost, WSA-mobile will introduce you to five apps for a mobile media revolution: Find out how mobile content revolutionizes the way we learn about events of global impact - turning six billion citizens into mobile reporters.

“At least 141 martyrs have fallen today including 12 women and 10 kids. The most martrys were reported in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama, where there was another new massacre in the countryside.”

Contrary to what you might have expected, this tragic eyewitness report has not been recorded by a CNN camera team or by an Al Jazeera on-site reporter. Instead, it was typed on an old Nokia phone by an anonymous witness and has found its way to the Syria Tracker platform. Based on the Ushahidi platform, Syria Tracker collects citizens’ eyewitness reports - many of them submitted via mobile devices - and maps them to document atrocities committed in the conflict.

Mobile Journalism: A grassroot revolution
The platform is but one example of what justifiably can be called a mobile media revolution: Six billion mobile devices around the globe provide users with the means to document their daily lives as well as extraordinary eperiences and events – be it the latest college party, a traffic jam or a devastating earthquake. At the same time, mobile broadband connections, SMS based services and crowdsharing platforms enable users to share their impressions with a global community. Hence, in a world of six billion mobile phones everyone can become an on-sight reporter.

Unsurprisingly, news broadcasters around the globe have adapted to this changing environment. And they quickly started to make use of the ever growing staff of citizens’ reporters: When Hurricane Sandy hit the American east coast earlier this year, VOX news asked their audience to send their photos and videos via twitter to be discussed on air. Similarly, western journalists extensively used twitter to stay updated about latest developments in the Arab Spring movements. Hence, there is little doubt about the scale of the mobile media revolution – a revolution that will liberate the phrase “grassroot journalism” from its amateurish overtone.

Everone is talking - but who is listening?
At the same time, rapid developments in mobile media confront consumers and broadcasters with new challenges: The relentless stream of mobile information calls for new ways of channeling, filtering and personalising information. Consequently, developers around the globe work on applications that provide users with information that is tailored to their interests and needs.

This year’s WSA-mobile Winners in the category m-Media & News reflect the chances and challenges that come along with the mobile media revolution. On the one hand, they enable users to share meaningful information with global communities (Scoopshot, Bambuser, Trafic Mate). On the other hand, they provide tools for the customization of news and information (News 360, Maestro Digital Publishing). Check out 5 outstanding tools for a mobile media revolution, that is right at its start.

News360 (USA/Russia) is a set of mobile apps for smartphone and tablet platforms. The apps send a tailored stream of news content focused on users’ specific interests. The apps gather and analyse news articles from more than 20,000 online sources, presenting the most important ones in a grid. On the flagship iPad version, each rectangle in the grid is the face of a cube - the user can rotate the cube to see different aspects of the story or activate different actions. Flipping the cube up displays a preview, flipping it down allows story-sharing, turning to the opposite face activates selected coverage. News360 combines diverse sources to provide coverage from diverging perspectives, all with one tap. News360 gets smarter the more it’s used – the app analyses the user’s behaviour and adjusts the feed to provide more sophisticated sources from authors not otherwise available. The system is based on a self-learning ontology with a state-of-the-art linguistic analysis engine that tracks more than a million topics, organizations, people and products. News360 apps have been downloaded by over 1.5 million people and positively reviewed by the news industry.

Scoopshot (Finland) is a service allowing smartphone owners to become photographers for media companies. Users can take newsworthy photos or videos and send them via the mobile app, offering their shots at a set price. Journalists can purchase the image at the price set by the photographer or buy exclusive rights for ten times as much. Conversely, editors can send location-based tasks to mobile users via the interface, at a price determined by the media. In this way, media can incentivize scoopshooters in the field or assign a freelance photographer anywhere via the Scoopshot PRO interface. Scoopshot has over 110,000 mobile photographers in 160 countries. Scoopshooters submitted over 250,000 photos last year, of which over 110,000 were purchased and published. Forty-six media corporations use Scoopshot daily, accessing a low cost, unique and steady flow of digital content. Besides media, companies can use the Scoopshot application for marketing, listing and promotion. As Scoopshot‘s community is highly engaged, brands can obtain extensive content for enlivening online activity. Scoopshot products are all based on the same mobile app. Assignments and photo stream are managed from the same web store, making it easy to use for both contributors and buyers.

TrafficMate (Sri Lanka) is a traffic management app providing an efficient solution for traffic congestion. Research indicates the most effective ways to control traffic, for example, by algorithms based on artificial intelligence to control traffic lights. However, these solutions rely on the availability of accurate and real-time information about traffic flow. TrafficMate takes advantage of the smartphone inside the app user’s pocket, turning the user into a sensor. Smartphones thus create a ‘social network’ of traffic detection without external sensors or bureaucracy. The mobile app collects traffic flow data including speed, acceleration patterns and location of the mobile device in a vehicle, sending the data to a central server, where it is processed to identify traffic jam locations.  App users receive information from the server in the form of location-based updates. TrafficMate marks jammed areas on a Google map, also making information available to traffic analysts and viewers via the web page or API. A major advantage: TrafficMate data gathering and transmission is a backend process, not visible to the user.

Bambuser (Sweden) is a simple-to-use live video service that allows users to quickly and easily capture, share and watch live video through mobile phones and computers. Bambuser also enables instant sharing with the world’s favourite social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. With users in 190 countries, Bambuser’s mission is to provide people and brands with the most enjoyable and effective interaction and sharing of special moments with others through real-time video. Users can broadcast what’s happening, chat with viewers live, or share breaking news with a global audience, thanks to Bambuser’s cooperation with an international news agency. Bambuser is available as a free service for consumers and non-profits, and as a premium service for commercial use.

Maestro Digital Publishing Suite (China) is a powerful digital publishing system for interactive magazines, e-books, comics, business catalogues and education publications. Easy to learn, the Maestro system requires no programming skill. Maestro DPS creates interactive contents that rival other providers and supports multiple platforms with a single product for both mobile phones and tablet devices. Maestro DPS is a complete solution for individual designers, traditional media publishers, ad agencies, or major media and brand organizations, making it possible to create, distribute, monetize and optimize robust interactive publications.
To facilitate improved workflow for publishers, Maestro DPS offers an instant preview feature with over-the-air device-to-device file delivery support. Maestro DPS is a mandatory higher diploma module at the Hong Kong Design Institute. The app has won a number of outstanding IT and business awards.