Round 10
Winner
Synced Geo-Bounties
by

Crowdfunding geospatial dashboards through Stellar-powered bounties

Budget request:  
*
WebsiteCode

Project Stage

Startup

Category

Marketplaces

Based in

Cambridge, UK

Team size

Active since

2018
Products & Services

Crowdfunded geospatial dashboards, populated with data crowdsourced from Synced app users, who are rewarded with crypto bounties.



People will be able to create dashboards and follow data for places they care about. They generate the data on the dashboard by issuing bounties to existing Synced app users (multiple bounties can be issued per dashboard). The bounty specifies what app users should mark. Qualifying marks are added to the dashboard, and the marker is paid a share of the bounty. We have a prototype running on the Stellar Testnet (https://synced.to/dev/dashboard), and here’s a prototype of a Synced dashboard using public third-party data (https://blog.synced.to/Complaints-Of-New-York).


Each bounty has an associated Stellar account, and anyone can contribute to the bounty by paying into the account. We’ll be using Stellar USDC for simplicity & clarity, rather than minting a new token. Contributors will also be able to pay in fiat, and it’ll be converted to USDC and added to the bounty. Bounty payouts will be in USDC. A related subtask is determining how much of the bounty should be paid to each marker.  Our plan is to pay based on the supply and demand of markers in a geographic region.

What's new?

The idea is the same but we’re now further along in our implementation. Some implementation details have now changed. For example, we’re switching from XLM bounties to Stellar USDC and using Circle’s APIs so users can fund bounties in crypto or fiat.

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Previous Project(s)
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Progress so far
  • We’ve managed to get compliance approval from Circle (USDC). Through Circle’s APIs, Synced users will be able to fund bounties in crypto and fiat, and bounty payouts will be in USDC on Stellar. We’ve also worked on flow of funds with Circle as part of the compliance process and have come to an implementation for our bounty system.
  • The server side code to merge dashboards with Synced marks is almost ready. We still need to integrate the Circle API code, which we’ll be able to do once we start our billing account for Circle’s not-insignificant API fees.
  • We’ve designed the new interfaces for the apps to incorporate dashboards and the bounty system, and they are in the process of being implemented.
Goals

Within the next 6 months we will have:

  • Released the dashboards and associated updates to the existing Synced apps
  • Released the paid bounties after incorporating Circle’s APIs
  • Have 110 public dashboards (populated with data through bounties) created worldwide
To get there, we  will use our requested budget of  
*
  to:
  • Fund Circle API fees, access APIs, integrate checkout and account code
  • Security penetration testing & legal consultation
  • Update Synced apps with new designs
  • Beta release of dashboards
  • Begin marketing push
  • Full release of paid bounties
  • Continue marketing, iterate from feedback
Overview

PROBLEM

Geospatial data is critical to many functions of society, such as mapping, climate & biodiversity monitoring, agriculture, disaster relief and city management. The problem is that this data is time-consuming, expensive, and tedious to compile & update (McKinsey & Co). The effort required to create and share these datasets limit their flexibility and accessibility, and so the resulting value is out of the reach of most of the world’s communities. For mapping, OpenStreetMap has shown crowdsourcing data can help. But data for the environmental and social layers above the map remain a problem.


SOLUTION

Our insight is that a region’s community is often disconnected from the data collected about it. This is caused by predominantly top-down data processes. A bottom-up model, enabling communities to generate their own data dashboards, can provide more insightful and cost-effective measurement of social & environmental issues. Dashboards can also be used in all sorts of other creative ways to make live maps of the things that interest you.


Data on a dashboard is crowdsourced by issuing Stellar-based bounties to users of the existing Synced apps, who then mark things matching the bounty. Qualifying marks are added to the dashboard, and the marker is paid a share of the bounty. Check out our prototype on the Testnet! (https://synced.to/dev/dashboard).


For example an engaged citizen creates a dashboard for Shimla, India. They then create a bounty for illegal waste dumping sites (in many countries the dumping or burning of waste is a big problem, affecting the environment, wildlife and people’s health). Each bounty is connected to a Stellar account, so that anyone can contribute to it. Bounties are then seen by Synced app users in Shimla. If they mark an illegal waste dumping site they receive a share of the bounty. The resulting mark also appears on the dashboard. The end result is a dataset of illegal dumping sites in Shimla, which encourages accountability and action from the municipality.


Bike theft in Cambridge, potholes in Los Angeles, hedgehog sightings in London, real-time data from a location in the news, reports on illegal logging, datasets of lovely beaches or of UFO sightings worldwide - the bounty system expands to the imagination of the dashboard creator. In the longer term we will extend the bounty system to provide more types of data including aerial imagery and Internet of Things (IoT) data.


Crowdfunded bounties are an effective way to crowdsource geospatial data at scale. They mitigate the challenge of data coverage being correlated to the income level of a region, which has been shown to affect OpenStreetMap and other crowdsourcing projects. You can also measure changes to a place over time, for as long as a community sees the need.


RELEVANCE TO STELLAR

Stellar is the ideal platform to build our bounty system on. Its speed, low fees and small environmental footprint make it feasible to transfer small amounts to and from lots of people. Indeed our proposal is infeasible using the typical minimum transaction fees and commissions charged in the traditional financial system. Plus we wanted a global solution so that anyone, anywhere in the world, can contribute to or receive bounties.


In the long term, we’re also interested in new crowd governance structures like DAOs that could help community management of the local area.


For Stellar this represents a novel channel and a performant means to bring people into the Stellar ecosystem - as small Stellar USDC bounties will be paid to lots of people. And the Stellar community will have a new way to earn USDC by helping improve the world around them. We’ll also be documenting the technical details of how we’re building the crowdfunding and crowdsourcing elements of our solution on our blog as a resource for others who’d like to build on Stellar.


TARGET MARKET

Based on feedback from Synced app users, and from canvassing 30K households in South East England, we expect community-minded people who care deeply about a local issue to collectively fund dashboards to help others, or to create accountability from the municipality. Common issues will include broken infrastructure, crime & safety and open waste dumping (a big issue in the developing world). People will also use dashboards for research - for outdoor hobbies, local histories, or to get a feel for a place they’re looking to move to.


We expect municipalities, nonprofits and businesses will contribute funds to useful dashboards, and will begin to seed their own dashboards.


A McKinsey report summarises the needs of municipalities and our value proposition: “It is often time-consuming, expensive, and tedious to compile the extensive data sets needed .... But governments may be able to reduce some of the complications by promoting citizen involvement … which will provide officials with an integrated view of the issues that matter to constituents.” The non-profit sector has similar needs for citizen-led data to help monitor environmental & social issues and measure the outcomes of interventions.


Needs in the private sector include generating data for market intelligence and generating images/video as machine learning datasets or for news stories. There’s also opportunities for field workers to use our user-centric data collection apps and tools along with private dashboards for their organisations.


For dashboards to be populated the app needs a good coverage of marking users. From our trials with paid marks, we’re confident we can get markers. These users will likely be younger and tech-savvy, often students, who have some time to mark any bounties and see it as a fun game.


REVENUE MODEL

We’ll generate revenue by taking a percentage of each bounty as a fee. For crowdsourced bounties we envisage a fee of around 5-15% of the bounty. For future bounties on other data types, there will be a fixed price per data refresh. For organisations who want to keep their dashboards private there’ll be an additional surcharge.


Our top-line annual revenue roughly involves multiplying the number of dashboards created, the mean number of bounties per dashboard and the mean annual revenue per bounty (MRPB).


We’ve estimated the mean number of bounties per dashboard as three, as dashboards are designed to cover multiple facets of a region. The key variables for 2022-2024 projections are then the number of dashboards and the MRPB. For EOY 2022 we’re targeting 110 dashboards with a MRPB of $1,771. We’ve modeled a power-law distribution, with most of the revenue coming from a small number of dashboards. These numbers rise to 2000 dashboards with MRPB of $3,406 by EOY 2024 as we bring in other datasets and more organisations.


INDUSTRY AND MARKET RESEARCH                    

Research by Frontier Economics shows the market for geospatial data is large and has been growing sharply. In the UK a conservative estimate puts its size at $8.17bn to $12.26bn - with the number of fundraisings having an annual growth rate of over 20% over the past ten years and the growth rate of the value of fundraisings at 40%.


The report further highlights that the market “...has been transformed via an evolution in data collection mechanisms. Technology has enabled a substantial amount of value to be generated from non-traditional sources of location data, such as data gathered through crowdsourcing”.


Beside the market for data is the market for geospatial analytics, which is estimated to grow from $59.5bn in 2021 to $107.8bn in 2026.


In the near term we’ll mainly be in the geospatial data market, and particularly in the transformative crowdsourcing segment. We’ll also be opening a new segment of the market by enabling communities of people to generate the data that matters to them. Using the valuations of companies who operate in adjacent niches (crowdsourcing crime or transport data), we estimate the addressable market to be in the hundreds of millions. With the addition of analytics, additional data sources and aerial imagery, this would be multiples higher.


THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES                    

There’s compliance and app store issues around issuing cryptocurrency. We’ll use some funds to seek legal advice to navigate these. Plus there will be minimal cryptocurrency features in the apps themselves. Bounties will be issued by web-based dashboards, and users will only be able to access their crypto details via the web. They’ll be encouraged to migrate their Stellar accounts to a third-party wallet.


People may put themselves or others in danger to win bounties. There’s also the spectre of bad data. We‘ll be using multiple methods to counteract these risks. Bounties will need to be approved by us before they can be issued, and marks will be approved by funders before payouts (similar to how Amazon’s Mechanical Turk works). Marks have an image or video, which is helpful in verifying data. Synced also has a reporting system to flag issues. We’ll further be able to check our analytics data and the Stellar chain for suspicious activity. Longer term, once we build up data, we can train algorithms to assign marks a probability of being inaccurate. The aim is to make acting badly too much effort for the potential reward.


We’re taking a novel approach to generating geospatial data. This has the challenge of getting people to understand how it works and its potential. Which is why we’ll seed some early dashboards and bounties ourselves.


The novelty is also a fantastic opportunity for word-of-mouth spread. Instead of starting with the data, as is traditionally done, we start with the regions and topics people care about. They can then crowdfund the data to give them a full picture. And if you have the app, you get the chance to win bounties for helping.


COMPETITION

For environmentally and socially related geospatial data, there are top-down providers and bottom-up.


Top-down providers include satellite data providers like Planet Labs, or Tyler Technologies who power the open datasets of a number of North American cities including NYC, San Francisco and Austin. These datasets are expensive to produce and so tend to serve larger organisations or are only available for wealthier cities. In the case of city data, it’s also difficult to create a new dataset to fill a niche of local interest or keep datasets up-to-date.


For bottom-up data social networks are the current go-to. There will be posts about waste dumping, bike theft, potholes, lovely beaches etc. Unless they go viral these posts will disappear in the sea of other content. There’s no single dashboard that can be seen as a source of accountability and it’s not easy to generate the data on demand.


Our approach is bottom-up, starting with what people care about. We’ll be able to provide live dashboards as sources of accountability and longer term integrate helpful top-down datasets too. And if a bounty continues to have societal value it will continue to be funded and updated enabling changes to be measured over time.


MARKETING AND SALES

Dashboards are content people care enough about to have crowdfunded & crowdsourced. So we will be using them as key assets in a content marketing strategy. In a series of blog posts we’ll also explore the stories behind some popular dashboards. The content will be shared across social media channels - to inspire others to contribute to existing bounties or start dashboards for things and places they care about.


RESOURCES AND RELATIONSHIPS

Synced came out of the accelerator at the University of Cambridge's Business School, and we're fortunate to be able to seek advice from them when refining the business-related aspects of the product.


As one of the winners of Innovate UK and the UK Geospatial Commission's Crowdsourcing Geospatial Data competition, we'll also be able to connect with them to reach around 2,000 firms across the UK working with Geospatial data to promote our dashboards and bounties.

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Team

Tejas Shah - Development/Business Development

I enjoy the challenge of building things that people love to use and that have a positive impact on their lives. I have 15 years of experience building things at Imperial College London, Citigroup, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge University and now Synced.


Xiaohui Wang - Design/Product Management

Hi, I am Xiaohui :-) I am a designer and creative technologist with a passion to build a better future for people. I have a multidisciplinary background in Design, Engineering & Business from the Royal College of Art, Imperial College London and London Business School. As a designer my work has been exhibited internationally and I have received numerous awards including the Fast Company Innovation by Design award and the Dezeen award.


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