Crowdsourcing: From Holiday Lights to Helping Businesses during COVID-19

Crowdsourcing: From Holiday Lights to Helping Businesses during COVID-19

July 2021

In 2017, Gilbert launched the open data portal librarian, Alex. Over the past four years, Alex has helped residents find information and data about community safety, growth and development, transportation options, and more. The most popular engagements with Alex have been crowdsourced initiatives, such as the Holiday Lights map.

194 crowdsourced holiday light displays from 2018 through 2020

In 2018, Gilbert launched its first crowdsourced initiative on Alex – holiday lights. The purpose of the initiative was two-fold: bring the community together by creating a guide to explore local holiday displays while learning how to use the citizen request and reporting tool, Gilbert 311.

This visualization shows how the holiday lights crowdsourcing initiative has grown from 69 submissions in 2018 (pink dots) to 76 submissions in 2020 (yellow dots).

When COVID-19 shutdowns began in spring 2020, Gilbert utilized Alex to create a new crowdsourced initiative, the Help Gilbert map. This map connected community members with businesses and nonprofits looking for local help and donations, using the familiar technology and digital submission process from the Holiday Lights map.

Whether it’s in time of need or holiday cheer, Alex helps connect the dots and bring the community together.

Alex helped connect 220+ businesses and nonprofits to residents

This visualization shows the explosion of new submissions from businesses (orange dots) and nonprofits (white dots) when the Help Gilbert map first launched in the spring of 2020.

The map is still live and businesses and nonprofits continue to submit their information (as shown with the trickle of new dots towards the end).

During COVID-19, Alex has proven invaluable. In addition to the Help Gilbert map, Alex also provides residents with a dashboard that shares information about community spread.

Gilbert is taking a creative approach to maximizing how data is utilized to inform decisions and bring the community together. We are thrilled to be recognized by What Works Cities for our investment in data and transparency as part of our decision-making processes across the city. We look forward to building on this achievement moving forward to continue making a positive impact on the lives of residents.