Crowd in the Cloud
Thursday, December 15, 2011
By Christopher Haight
Crowd-sourcing is largely enabled through cloud-based computing, where information, documents, and other materials are not stored locally on an individual's own computer, but are instead stored on a remote server and made accessible from any internet device. Cloud computing has rapidly been transforming the private and public sectors alike, as it helps make the sharing of information and applications more efficient.
While there is no one ideal grant for implementing cloud computing as there is for distance learning (see the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Distance Learning and Telemedicine program), grant seekers wishing to implement a cloud computing project still have multiple opportunities. One of the leading trends in grant funding, especially at the federal level, is the
encouragement of community collaboration and partnerships.
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), housed within the U.S. Department of Justice, exemplifies this focus on interagency cooperation. The COPS Office administers numerous grant programs each year, such as the Hiring, Secure Our Schools, and Community Policing Development programs. Each of these, as well as the general activities of the COPS Office, focus on engaging other agencies, organizations, and stakeholders in the community in preventing and solving criminal activity. Sharing resources in an accessible manner through the cloud can enable more data-based investigations, allowing police officers to detect patterns of community violence that may otherwise be reported to disparate locations.
Economic development is another area where the sharing of ideas, research, and information is becoming increasingly important for grants. Major grant programs such as the Partnerships for Innovation from the National Science Foundation or University Center Economic Development program from the Economic Development Administration both require proposals to include agencies beyond the reach of the university with a specific focus on small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups. These programs share a common theme of seeking to leverage the research capabilities of a university to promote translational development into marketable products - making this another key area where the cloud and a select crowd of academic, scientific, financial, and entrepreneurial collaborators can come together.
Breaking down interagency barriers is now a key interest for federal funders, making it likely states and private funders will follow suit. The promise of the cloud and the crowd can not only satisfy the demands of these grants, but also put your organization at the forefront of public sector service innovation.