What if you take complex data and present it in ways a typical person could understand in a Twitter tweet or a status update in a Facebook or Google+ stream? What if you layer those tweets and updates on an online neighborhood map, so people could understand where the information comes from?
Microsoft did. Its project HereHere, which launched this week, blends data analytics and social media to alert the public of issues affecting their neighborhoods.
The technology comes from Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs, a Microsoft research division. It takes neighborhood-specific hyper-local public user data and shares it through text and cartoon-like icons.
HereHere pulls 311 data daily for each neighborhood and identifies the most important requests. There's a mobile platform and a desktop version that delivers status updates pertaining to local happenings similar to social messages sent by friends. The system generates cartoons and text as humans would to communicate what's happening in their neighborhoods, sharing the information in a style similar to a social network.
Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs, explains in a blog post how Microsoft wants to use data to improve lives and communities. Two years ago she spoke at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit about using social data to dig out information about crime or where to find jobs. The idea to give people data in a way they can understand and process it.
The HereHere model represents complex information in more human terms, and gives neighborhoods a "better shot at using the data and sensors to anticipate new troubles and solve meaningful problems," Cheng explains.