Crowdsensing: What it is and Why it is Important


It is natural in the era of big data for hardware manufacturers and app developers to work together to take better advantage of the data produced by our mobile devices. From the GPS functions that make mapping programs work to the localization that makes targeted advertising possible, all the data that our mobile devices collect and store is a virtual gold mine just waiting to be taken advantage of. One of the latest ways of doing so is something known as ‘crowdsensing’.

If you are not familiar with crowdsensing, it is the crowd source version of data collection and analysis. In a nutshell, crowdsensing is the practice of using large numbers of individual mobile devices to collect data relating to their current surroundings and then actively sharing that data with every other device on the network.

Data is collected through a variety of sensors built into mobile devices. Sensors can measure everything from ambient light to noise to movement. And, of course, GPS capabilities can pinpoint a mobile device’s location within a few feet. All the information collected by the sensors can be automatically transmitted to the cloud where it can be analyzed and stored. Why is this important to mobile app developers? Because crowdsensing will be the single greatest factor driving mobile connectivity for the next decade.

  • Crowdsensing Already a Priority

Crowdsensing is not really new as a concept. In fact, the term itself has been around since 2011. Yet over the years we have seen a growing sense of urgency over tapping into the potential of crowdsensing and its relationship to big data. It is now such an important priority that the Swiss National Science Foundation is currently funding an extensive project to figure out ways to best utilize current and future crowdsensing technologies.

Of course, crowdsensing does have quite a few limitations that need to be overcome. According to mobile app developers at Austin-based iTexico, most of the current concerns over crowdsensing are related to the usual suspects:

  • Security – It goes without saying that automatically collecting, transmitting, and analyzing data produced by mobile devices raises considerable security concerns. If a mobile app developer can use crowdsensing technology to collect and analyze data, hackers can use that same technology to steal it.
  • Privacy – Security is to the hacker what privacy is to the user. Crowdsensing may be right on the edge of what consumers are willing to tolerate where personal privacy is concerned. Right now, most people do not understand the scope of crowdsensing. Once it becomes mainstream though, consumer knowledge will grow. Privacy concerns are likely to grow with it.
  • Advertising – A bigger concern from a marketing standpoint is that of advertising bloat. We already know that the use of ad blockers in web browsers is at an all-time high because internet users are simply tired of being overwhelmed by intrusive ads. Mobile app developers looking to monetize crowdsensing face the very real danger of mobile ads taking over functionality and turning off users.

iTexico says that if the current objectives for crowdsensing become a reality, the average cellphone user will eventually be carrying a supercomputer in his or her pocket. With that supercomputer comes a lot of digital power. But at what expense? How far can crowdsensing go before it crosses a line that consumers are not willing to cross with it?

As a mobile app developer, you should be keeping an eye on crowdsensing and where it is headed. It is going to be the primary catalyst for app development for the next 10 years at least.