Human-Computer Interaction Institute
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Reflecting the Current Practices of Technology Use
in Volunteer Data COllection Activities on the
Opportunities of Mobile Technology

Sunyoung Kim, Jennifer Mankoff, Eric Paulos*

August 2014


Keywords: Public Participation, Volunteer, Environmental campaign, Data collection, Mobile Technology, Technology Adoption

Mobile technology is advancing our ability to connect and share information in ways that were impossible before. It offers great potential for people to participate in volunteer activities for data collection at reduced cost and time. Despite its potentials, the organizations that coordinate volunteer activities often do not fully benefit from the capabilities of advanced mobile technologies. In order to understand how mobile technology might support volunteer data collection activities, this study investigated the current use of technology for volunteer activities, reflecting on the opportunities and challenges it brings. We categorized the organizations that coordinate volunteer activities according to goal, and identified perceived challenges that prevent them from leveraging mobile technology: the credibility of public participation, and interference with the field experience. While not an exhaustive list, we believe that these challenges are critical starting points when strategizing the adoption of mobile technologies in volunteer data collection activities. We conclude by discussing the potential for mobile technology use to promote public participation in data collection activities and to foster public engagement in volunteer activities.

35 pages

*University of California, Berkeley

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