Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Homeless data collectors

Here in SA, we have a container deposit scheme.
Homeless folk often are able to add a little revenue to their lives by collecting the 10c per can reward.

This benfits all involved, keeping areas clean, waste down and providing a limited sort of charity.

Given the low costs of digital cameras, gps, wifi and ardunio boards, is there a hidden opportunity for businesses?
For example, geocoding and address matching is an unsolved problem - we have data sets but they are not open, or can grow stale quickly.
Grabbing a photo of a location is possible from streetview, but again it is not an open data set.

Could rugged gps enabled cameras, with a 5c per photo reward, be a good solution?
Uploading and tagging against open street map, automatically?

Given a limited amount of review, this seems a feasible alternative to ocr solutions, with a real world benefit to people in need.

For the homeless involved, the fee is less than a can or bottle, time to take photo a bit more from location to location, but easier to carry.

Obviously there would be a discomfort factor for some home owners, but I would wager most folks already harvesting recycables deal with this already.

What other data could the homeless collect, given the right infrastructure?

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