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Groundsource: A mobile engagement & research platform

St. Paul, Estados UnidosMacon
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Groundsource gives journalists and social entrepreneurs the tools to hyper-efficiently connect with the right people via mobile phones -- to understand their needs, their experience and to gather accurate on-the-ground information.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we put the genuine needs and experiences of the people we serve at the heart of every decision we made?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are more than 6 billion mobile phones in the world, creating unprecedented opportunities to connect and engage with almost anyone on the planet. The ability to connect to most of the world via mobile opens up new potential to put people and their needs at the heart of our decision-making and service design. But creating sustainable engagement via mobile is still prohibitively difficult and expensive, especially at the "bottom of the pyramid

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Groundsource enables journalists and researchers to listen at scale by giving them the tools to efficiently build panels of informants based on demographics, geography, or experience; send out simple surveys to collect data about experiences and needs; visualize patterns of needs and experiences using maps and filtering tools; and follow up with small, targeted groups of informants for interviews, or to gather further information. Groundsource's CRM database builds rich profiles for every source, allowing for organizations to develop rich, persistent relationships with people over time.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Consider this hypothetical example: One day, a mass protest erupts in a Nigerian oil town. The community is upset over contaminated water supply, and want the oil company to do something about it. Their protest inspires other, and soon protests spread throughout the region. But it's clear that this isn't *just* about clean water, but the culmination of decades of grievances, whose origins can only discerned by talking to the people on the ground who know the communities best. Using Groundsource, a journalist zooms in on the region where the protests are taking place. She then selects a number of filters to focus on women between the ages of 25 and 60 who seem to be leading the protests.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We are piloting in New Orleans, LA and Macon, GA -- two communities facing significant social issues including poverty and low educational attainment, but also with groups of dedicated and innovative community activists and journalists seeking innovative and effective new ways to engage residents and address their needs. Several hundred sources have opted in to engaging via SMS and voice in these cities, and their insights have provided journalists and organizers with special insight into issues such as blight and food stamps. These are early trials, but the willingness of people to share their phone numbers and respond to questions has validated our early hypotheses, and has helped us refine the technology and the flow of information.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We plan on offering Groundsource as a subscription service to organizations that value on-the-ground context and qualitative research. We plan on offering it for very cheap to small NGO's working on humanitarian projects, and then charging significantly more to organizations using it to track the impact of their work in the field, and the efficacy of their philanthropic giving.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Qualitative research, which is what Groundsource supports, is often expensive and inefficient -- especially when seeking engagement with "hard-to-reach" people who lack the technology or the visibility to be tapped for their experiences and insights. Groundsource is distinct from many existing mobile polling and data collection services that use large-scale surveys to do quantitative research in that we see surveys as just the beginning of a conversation that leads to deeper stories and human context.

Founding Story

Groundsource is the product of more than a decade of journalism crowdsourcing experimentation and platform development. Founder and veteran journalist Andrew Haeg co-founded the Public Insight Network (PIN) platform in 2003 at American Public Media. It enables newsrooms to gather information from the public to shape reporting. The impetus to create PIN came from the growing realization that diminishing resources and an increasing need to develop content for multiple platforms was making newsrooms increasingly disconnected from the public they served. As a solution, technology, specifically email and databases, could enable journalists to connect with relevant populations and gather vital information. The PIN platform has since spread to mor


Andrew Haeg, Founder Martin Quiroga, Mobile Specialist Tom Saunders, back-end developer Brock Petrie, Front-end Design/Developer Amanda Sperber, Marketing and Business Development Samrawit Tessema, Marketing and Business Development
About You
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, GA, Macon, Bibb County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, MN, St. Paul

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

When fully realized, we expect Groundsource to transform how service-oriented organizations think about the community surrounding them -- from groups of people passively awaiting information and services, to communities actively engaged in shaping and tuning their relationship with organizations that can serve their needs or solve their problems. We see a world in which organizations provide people with what they need, rather than what they have historically stocked in their inventory of goods and services.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The biggest barrier is in motivating people on the ground to opt in begin engaging via mobile. Incentives could include the opportunity to help shape services they use, but we're going to need to hit on more compelling ideas that get people not just to engage, but to get their friends and family to engage as well. These might include alerts regarding local services, or news that relates specifically to their neighborhood, city or interests.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

We have, to date, partnered with Internews (an international news non-profit) and the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University. We are also exploring partnerships with other global media and pro-democracy/civic participation groups that we cannot presently name.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Help funders, governments, and other organizations to listen to and act on feedback.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

We want to make it far easier for service-oriented organizations of all kinds to directly engage their communities, and listen to their experiences and needs to better serve them. We think the existing tools to enable this are too cumbersome, and therefore many decisions are made without input from the people that they will affect.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?


2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?
What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?
What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

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What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.
If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?
What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?


How might GroundTruth help people build capacity for identifying and addressing issues and challenges in communities?