Citizen Engineering & Virtual Organizations
Learn how, by sharing our resources, knowledge and manpower, we can answer society's grand challenges.

Project Showcase

CyberEye: A Cyber-Collaboratory for National Risk Modeling and Assessment to Mitigate the Impacts of Hurricanes in a Changing Climate

CyberEye: A Cyber-Collaboratory for National Risk Modeling and Assessment to Mitigate the Impacts of Hurricanes in a Changing Climate is a cyber-platform that uses modular, open-source development principles to enable the community to integrate existing data, models and simulation tools into a collaborative environment over time. CyberEye’s development has focused on supporting two distinct work flows central to hurricane risk assessment and mitigation: high-fidelity Rapid Risk Assessment (RRA) and robust Data Intake and Discovery (DID) to better enable the use of data to inform and validate models used in hurricane risk assessment. Current web-platforms for hurricane risk assessment and mitigation generally fall into two classes: (1) real-time data aggregators intended to support decision makers in preparing for and responding to landfalling events and (2) archives of historical data. In this regard CyberEye provides a single platform that combines both of these core functionalities to serve not only researchers but also various stakeholders.

Project Website: CyberEye.crc.nd.edu

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet

Kijewski-Correa, T., Taflanidis, A., Kennedy, A., Fernando, H.J.S., Kareem, A., Khandelwal, K. and Westerink, J. (2013) “CYBER-EYE: Development of Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure to Support Rapid Hurricane Risk-Assessment,” Proceedings of 12th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering, Seattle, June 16-20.


Open-Sourcing the Design of Civil Infrastructure (OSD-CI)

This project has focused on how to build an Army of Citizen Engineers and enable them to collaborate in various aspects of the integrated design chain (IDC) by developing cyberinfrastructure, policies and social structures that (1) harness human effort, (2) tap collective knowledge, (3) pool communal software and (4) leverage distributed computational hardware – what we term four Dimensions of Collaboration (DoC). To do so, the project team developed, over four years, five major cyberinfrastructure portals and utilized one commercial cyber-platform to execute seven multi-stage experiments. The portals and the experiments they facilitated allowed three features to be explored: (1) crowd performance given varying expertise and demographics, (2) how crowds can participate in a specific dimension of collaboration, and (3) how crowds can be used in specific elements of the integrated design chain (IDC) shown above. The major experiments in this crowdsourcing project are identified below.

Project Website: www.nd.edu/~opence

Recommended Reading:

Kijewski-Correa, T. (2011) “Open-Sourcing the Design of Civil Infrastructure: A Paradigm Shift,” Proceedings of Structures Congress, April 14-16, Las Vegas, NV.

Crowdsourcing Data Analysis: Haiti Phototagging Experiment

This experiment explored whether non-expert crowds can reliably execute engineering analyses, in this case the classification of failure modes in reconnaissance photos from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Several experiments have used this data set, including the classification of 400 photos by 200 crowd members at Notre Dame (2011) that was then opened up to enable 2000 assessments by anonymous workers on Mechanical Turk. The experiment has provided valuable data to develop policies to aggregate crowd responses and assure the most trustworthy crowd contributions, as well as how to create schema that paraskill complex engineering tasks.

Project Website: http://citizenengineers.org/study/

Recommended Reading:

Zhai, Z., Kijewski-Correa, T., Hachen, and Madey, G. (2012) “Haiti Earthquake Photo Tagging: Lessons on Crowdsourcing In-Depth Image Classifications,” Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Digital Information Management (ICDIM 2012), Aug 22-24, Macau, China.

Zhai, Z., Kijewski-Correa, T., Kareem, A., Hachen, D., and Madey, G. (2010) “Citizen Engineering: Evolving OSS Practices to Engineering Design and Analysis,” Proceedings of 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems, IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, 0378: 61-77.

Zhai, Z., Hachen, D., Kijewski-Correa, T. Shen, F. and Madey, G. (2012) “Citizen Engineering: Methods for ‘Crowdsourcing’ Highly Trustworthy Results,” Proceedings 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, January 4-7, Maui, Hawaii: 3406-3415. 

Crowdsourcing Open Innovation: Shelters for All

Crowd submissions of conceptual designs can be exceptionally challenging to evaluate and thus pose the common bottleneck for effective Crowdsouring and automation of such activities. Thus this experiment attempted to deliver something that most conceptual crowdsourcing efforts lack and that would be critical to the IDC: automated assessment of crowd submissions by the portal. To do so, a highly creative design challenge had to be devised that could get wide participation from a diverse crowd. Thus a challenge was developed to ask citizens at large to propose housing designs for the developing world that satisfied several dimensions assessing safety, feasibility and even sustainability of the concept. This experiment's website attracted 10,000 site visitors, registered 705 users from 70 countries, and received 100+ submissions (25% by teams). Through this experiment, not only were a number of innovative sheltering designs received, but we were able to investigate how crowd member's conceptual designs could be collected and evaluated in open-innovation challenges, how to automate this evaluation and aggregation of conceptual designs, and how innovation can be quantified in individual and team environments.

Project Website:  www.sheltersforall.org/ 

Crowd-Sourcing Expert Tasks: Virtual Wind Tunnel

Since a major aspect of crowdsourcing to support Civil Engineering tasks is the need to support participation for tasks with wide ranging complexity, portals must also be developed for expert citizens who have unique needs that may be different from those of amateur citizen engineers. For the past three years, a portal has been developed that focused on engaging expert citizens in a sophisticated analysis task. Commonly expert Citizen Engineers require access to advanced simulation tools with substantive computational demands that exceed the capabilities of their personal work stations. For this reason, a back-end simulation platform is developed that takes the parameters submitted by users and generates a computational model and executes the requisite simulations. Moreover, complex and domain-specific analysis tools that are often necessary for these analyses have a very steep learning curve and would be inaccessible for most Citizen Engineers. Such an example is afforded in this case study by a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis of structures under the action of turbulent winds. While CFD provides a powerful simulation tool, it is generally not easy to employ by even trained engineers. This portal and the experiments that have been run on it, demonstrate the capabilities of well-engineered cyberinfrastructure and web interfacing linked to distributed computational resources to reduce the technological barriers that could isolate Citizen Engineers from the resources necessary for their work. The platform permitted these users, including Mechanical Turk Workers from around the world, to evaluate the quality of CFD simulations and even simulate turbulent flow for multiple scenarios for the Empire State Building to optimize simulation parameters to achieve the best result at the smallest computational cost.

Project Website: www.nd.edu/~opence

Recommended Reading:

Zhai, Z., Sempolinski, P., Thain, D., Madey, G., Wei, D., Kareem, A. (2011) "Expert-Citizen Engineering: 'Crowdsourcing' Skilled Citizens," Proc. 2011 IEEE 9th Intl Conf on Dependable, Automatic and Secure Computing, 879-886.


VORTEX-Winds

A collaboratory of the leading universities, organizations, firms and government agencies dedicated to mitigating the effects of extreme winds on society. VORTEX-Winds coordinates geographically dispersed e-analysis and design modules to enable automated, integrated analysis and design of structures to resist wind.

Project Website: vortex-winds.org

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet


Decentralized Disaster Risk Reduction

Ultimately the practicality of directly translating the developed world’s centralized approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR) to the developing world where basic societal underpinnings such as regulatory processes and an educational pipeline for professionals do not exist is questionable. Instead, the paradigm must shift at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) to offer neighborhood-empowered, decentralized disaster risk reduction (d-DRR). In this project we demonstrate how such a radical shift can be achieved, by recognizing the power of various approaches that have proven successful in other BOP technical sectors and translating them effectively to the domain of engineering and construction in a way that is scalable and sustainable. These issues of scale and sustainability are only addressed when the targeted communities themselves execute, maintain and ultimately empower every aspect of DRR, particularly for private infrastructure like homes where individual families, and not higher level authorities or municipal entities, are the sole financier, tenant and even contractor.

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet


CITI-SENSE

Given the expense associated with most infrastructure monitoring systems and need for expert involvement, the vast majority of bridges have not been able to benefit from these technologies. By recognizing that the target end users have limited budgets and large inventories of bridges, it is unreasonable to expect that even a low cost sensor network could or should be permanently installed on every bridge. It is similarly ridiculous to expect transportation officials to become advocates for such technologies when they have been effectively isolated from these technologies themselves. Thus CITI-SENSE: A Citizen-Centric Health Monitoring Paradigm for Civil Infrastructure operates within this reality to deliver to these end users a rapidly re-deployable, self-organizing wireless sensor network with decision support tools that autonomously estimate damage and guide maintenance decisions without disrupting normal operations. Through these advances, this project seeks to empower stakeholders to more pro-actively maintain their bridge inventories and even for its users to self-report payloads to enhance safety, while minimizing repair costs and commuter disruption.

Recommended Reading:

Kijewski-Correa, T., Su, S. and Montestruque, L. (2012) “A Citizen-Centric Health Monitoring Paradigm Using Embedded Self-Locating Wireless Sensor Networks,” Proceedings of Structures Congress 2012, 20th Analysis and Computation Specialty Track, March 29-31, Chicago.

Kijewski-Correa, T., Montestruque, L., Su, S., and Savona, G. (2010) “A Rapidly Re-Deployable Wireless Sensor Network for Structural Assessment by Non-Expert End Users: The CITI-SENSE Concept,” Proceedings of 5th World Conference on Structural Control and Monitoring, July 12-14, Tokyo, Japan.


Citizen-Sensing for Assessment of Civil Infrastructure: Proof-of-Concept for Tall Buildings

COMING SOON

 

Realizing the Power of Shared Assets

Virtual Organizations have grown in popularity in recent decades, both in science and more recently in engineering circles. These VOs use cyberinfrastructure to facilitate virtual collaboration and open exchange of data and tools. Particularly in the case of structural engineering applications focused on hazard mitigation, the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) provides one powerful example of sharing not only networked experimental facilities but also software and data. Meanwhile, the National Wind Hazards Reduction Program (NWHRP) has focus on the utilization of emerging technologies and the exchange of shared resources in the spirit of collaboration, making a strong case for virtual organizations that pool resources and knowledge in the spirit of the open-source movement. These echo the growing calls by the National Weather Service (NWS) and NOAA for interoperable systems and collaborative workflows, thus there is considerable momentum behind web platforms that facilitate an open-exchange of knowledge, data and tools across the natural hazard spectrum. However, open-source principles suggest that there are even greater untapped dimensions across which collective effort could be leveraged to assist in the design, operation and maintenance of civil infrastructure.

A few years ago, no one would have believed that a global team of volunteers could write a major operating system kernel or a comprehensive encyclopedia. But today, Linux and Wikipedia and many similar open source projects serve as evidence that loosely organized teams can create and maintain the complex technical and intellectual infrastructure upon which society increasingly depends. These projects have succeeded not by accepting participants indiscriminately, but by
creating a meritocracy that rewards expertise regardless of its source. Yet interestingly, what is viewed as the best cognitive model (the crowd) has been applied to relatively non-technical societal problems. Why not then tap it to address once of society’s grand challenges: its aging civil infrastructure? Interestingly, civil engineering is naturally suited towards open source concepts: complex systems like buildings, bridges and other lifelines have many different stakeholders, require many kinds of technical expertise, and have a lifetime far beyond any one contributor. As the information used in the design, analysis and even management of civil infrastructure is trapped inside proprietary systems, these essential projects often do not benefit from the full expertise and latest advances available in the wider engineering community. Thus DYNAMO@ND has seen tremendous potential in using cyberinfrastructure to not only share hardware, software, data and knowledge in the more traditional sense of a virtual organization, but to actually expand that to the concept of Open Sourcing the Design of Civil Infrastructure (OSD-CI) by also sharing human resources. Such a paradigm shift will allow stakeholders – engineers, public officials, researchers, students, and even the public at-large – to review, propose, modify, evaluate, and contribute to designs, analyses, data and other assets. Through appropriate schema and cyberinfrastructure that offers unparalleled access to tools that empower individual inquiry and activism, these Citizen Engineers can dramatically expand the STEM workforce in this country and play vital roles in data collection, analysis, design and assessment of civil infrastructure, particularly in post-disaster settings.


Recommended Sites:

crowdsourcing.org

challenge.gov

galaxyzoo.org

innocentive.com

crisismappers.net

www.openstreetmap.org

nees.org