Crowd Sourcing Data Tasks: Could it be useful for Energy Management?


The Zooniverse web-site claims over 599,000 participants are taking part in science projects world-wide as of 3/13/2012.

I learned about one of Zooniverse’s project, transcribing weather data from Royal Navy log books, in the February 2012 issue of Significance, a joint publication of the American Statistical Association and Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society.

Royal Navy ships sailed all around the world over many decades.   The standard procedure:  every four hours, every day, sailors took and recorded weather and location data in log books.   This set of records provides an extensive baseline of temperature records that can be used for climate-modeling and climate change assessment.

The “Old Weather” project is transcribing log records from the beginning of the 20th century.

Here’s a sample log book page, ready for transcription:

Are Navy log books simpler to decode than utility bills?

There are still schools and public buildings that aren’t yet tracking their data in ENERGY STAR®’s Portfolio Manager (and then they could use Energy Stewards®, too!)   The initial hurdle, even in the 21st century, is getting energy record data into ENERGY STAR.

What would it take to “crowd-source” entering energy data into an appropriate database?

It’s getting easier every day, as shown by our colleagues at Zooniverse.   We may not have to wait until utilities have to make billing records ready to port over to ENERGY STAR.  We may be able to tap the power of willing volunteers.



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