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Expect crowd-based problem solving to fuel endless innovations in 2012, especially as for consumers, contributing will be more effortless than ever.

In 2012, count on the crowdsourcing trend to continue to shake up business processes and spawn endless innovations. After all, being given a chance to contribute, or to be a part of something bigger than themselves, will be forever popular with people.

However the reality is that most consumers- while they might want to contribute- find that it’s too difficult or too much hassle. Which is why you can expect to see more IDLE SOURCING initiatives in 2012: products and services that make it downright simple (if not effortless) to contribute to anything, from pinpointing roads in need of repairs to finding signs of extraterrestrial life.

Just one development unlocking new possibilities: the ubiquity of always-on, GPS and accelerometer-enabled smartphones in 2012, means that consumers themselves can and will increasingly broadcast data about where and what they are doing (assuming they have agreed to do so of course: don't even get us started on the privacy debate that will continue to rage in the new year).

Two IDLE SOURCING examples that show the way:

  • Test launched back in March 2011, the Boston based Street Bump app takes advantage of the sensors on smartphones to give city officials a real-time map of road conditions. The Android app uses the accelerometers and GPS technology in users' phones to register when and where the user's car has experienced a pothole, which it logs and reports automatically.
  • Israeli crowd-sourced traffic navigation app Waze reached seven million users across 45 countries in October 2011. The app provides free turn-by-turn navigation alongside live information about road conditions, crowdsourced from other users. Users can also sign-in and view their friends' locations.