WeatherUSI: Crowd Sourcing the Weather on Public Displays

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Type: Master
Status: Completed January 2016
Student: Ahmed Fouad

Public display systems are increasingly becoming part of the urban landscape. Most public displays today are simple slide-show systems that broadcast content in the form of static images. However, public displays envisioned in the near future will not only integrate content from a number of different sources, but also serve as data collection stations. Indeed, research has shown that public displays may hold a significant potential in “crowd sourcing”, when motivational design and feedback validation mechanisms are employed.

Crowd sourcing is a process where a large number of volunteer users contribute information through an online platform. A well-known example of crowd sourcing is Wikipedia. In the context of this thesis, the student should explore the design, implementation, and evaluation of a crowd sourcing public display application for weather information. This application builds upon the existing infrastructure of “Atmos”, a participatory sensing app that allows users to contribute subjective weather experiences, as well as their personal predictions, through their mobile phones. WeatherUSI should port the main principle of Atmos to a public display app and use the Atmos backend services to store user feedback, ideally merging both mobile (i.e., through a smartphone) and stationary (i.e., at a public display) Atmos reports. The main challenge of the work will be: (a) a design that will draw in passery-by, e.g., by using gamification elements; (b) an implementation that cleverly supports the multi-region public display engine in use at USI; and (c) an evaluation that verifies the feasibility of crowd sourcing weather information through public displays.

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