On BP and Collective Intelligence

Recently, the BBC ran an article about the possibility of using crowdsourcing techniques to help with the BP oil spill.

We talked to Matt Chapman, a senior consultant at Imaginatik, about the impact Collective Intelligence would have on the tragedy.

When disaster strikes, from hurricanes to earthquakes, people come together rapidly to help and clean up the devastation.  It's a very human thing to do - helping one another - especially in difficult times.

This is true of the challenge faced by the people on the southern coast (and BP) who are trying to stop and clean up the worst oil disaster seen in the U.S.  But this is a tough challenge, and the old ideas to solve the problem need new and fresh thinking. Not only do we need people to help clean up the devastation, but we need ideas beyond how we do that - more importantly, we need to stop the oil that is still leaking.

When it turned to crowdsourcing, BP received more than 31,600 ideas, mostly over the phone, collected by 80 telephone operators. 8,000 of those ideas were submitted by paper.

It's clear there is a lot of will from the masses, but without focus that alone will not help BP build the best ideas, stop the duplication of effort, and find the best and most efficient ideas from the crowd.

When it comes to disaster management you need a way to communicate the problem quickly to the people who can help and get their ideas together to act fast. After Hurricane Katrina, Chevron did just that with an online collective intelligence tool. In a matter of hours it connected its people together to come up with ideas on how to solve the emerging crisis and help get everyone back on their feet. BP could do the same, and make up valuable time in the process. It's time for them to tap into Collective Intelligence.

- Matt Chapman, Imaginatik plc

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