Since the start of the response to BP’s oil disaster, the company and government have solicited suggestions from the public for ideas to stop the gusher, cleanup oil, or otherwise improve the current cleanup operations.
Today Thad Allen announced the creation of a new working group to filter and evaluate the more than 20,000 ideas already submitted:
The Interagency Alternative Technology Assessment Program workgroup, newly established by the National Incident Commander for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, announced here Friday a new effort to collect and review oil spill response solutions from scientists and vendors.
The IATAP and the RDC will screen and triage submissions based on technical feasibility efficacy and deployability. This will be a federal process to ensure a fair, systematic, responsive and accountable review of alternative response technologies by interagency experts.
The IATAP workgroup, established by Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, includes the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Agriculture.
The Deepwater Horizon Response website reports that of the 20,000+ ideas submitted, 100 have been selected for further review by a team of 30 experts. It’s unclear if only 100 have been set aside because 19,900 ideas sucked, or if there’s no manpower to read through all the ideas.
Either way, there may be a better, more efficient solution. There are clearly hundreds of people with expertise on all parts of the disaster unfolding in the Gulf. Some are on this very blog, and there are dozens of oil experts crowding the comments at The Oil Drum blog and elsewhere online.
Why not set up a website with all of the submitted ideas and allow the public to evaluate proposals? The government (or BP, or whoever’s in charge today) can display the submissions and supporting information, sort by type of idea, and establish set criteria for the evaluations to be filtered, and then let the best ideas as determined go up for further review to whaetever experts the government determines.
Crowdsourcing these ideas will rapidly accelerate the review process, empower people online to help with the response, and let the public see what’s in the 20,000+ submitted ideas.
At the very least, the government can release the submissions, and some enterprising developer or organization can build the infrastructure to allow for review of the documents.