Incentives to Use the Crowd 


As discussed in the deployment plan, education and outreach will be central to convince the community of the value of the crowd and the competitive advantages that can be gained from it. Eventually, every firm is faced with projects requiring expertise outside the restricted range of their staff’s abilities and experiences; however, for many firms, mechanisms to engage experts are not readily available or can be accomplished only with great cost or effort. Thus the prime incentive that must be conveyed is that the crowd provides a flexible and informal mechanism to obtain needed expertise for specific projects at little to no cost. The OSD-CI therefore provides a mechanism through which firms of varying sizes can “crowd-source” specific projects, allowing the firms to both focus on their core competencies and obtain the expertise to solve problems requiring a more diverse group.



Incentives to Join the Crowd


Maintaining the interest of Citizen Engineers will require additional incentives. The most basic mechanism would come in the form of the aforementioned ratings that can serve to elevate them within the tournament model. These ratings could be used as incentives in a number of ways outside of the earlier definition of membership status in Section 2.1.1, e.g., the more a person contributes or participates, they accumulate “currency” to access higher level resources or capabilities in the tool repository. However, this may not be sufficient motivation for some Citizen Engineers and thus to ensure a broad base with diverse expertise and talents, additional incentive strategies will need to be explored that apply to individuals at various stages in their career. For early career individuals, networking, potentials for career advancement, and exposure to potential employers may be sufficiently attractive. For licensed engineers, OSD-CI activities can be tied to professional development hours (PDHs). As PDHs are necessary to maintain their licensure and normally are earned through commercial mechanisms, this could be an especially attractive fiscal incentive. Of course, it will also be necessary to determine how direct monetary compensation can be incorporated for those working on the most complex and challenging problems, to further drive the Citizen Engineers within the tournament model. Thus, one of the major research endeavors of this project is to determine which types of incentives work best at various tiers in an open contribution system.



Incentives to Contribute Resources


Hand-in-hand with the incentive schemes for crowd sourcing and crowd participation, there must be ample incentives for institutions, firms, researchers, and Citizen Engineers to contribute data, analysis modules, computing cycles, and other resources to the virtual organization to empower the crowd. The importance of appropriately vetting resources is an important challenge and strategies to govern that process have already been developed in the PIs’ prototype virtual organization and will be extended here. Additionally, status and ranking of crowd members must include similar mechanisms to credit their contributions of resources to the Tool Repository or Computing Cloud, as the Citizen Engineers ultimately are only as good as the resources at their disposal.