Scalable crisis relief: Crowdsourced SMS translation and categorization with Mission 4636
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Crowdsourced crisis response harnesses distributed networks of humans in combination with information and communication technology (ICT) to create scalable, flexible and rapid communication systems that promote well-being, survival, and recovery during the acute phase of an emergency. In this paper, we analyze a recent experience in which CrowdFlower conducted crowdsourced translation, categorization and geo-tagging for SMS-based reporting as part of Mission 4636 after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. We discuss CrowdFlower's approach to this task, lessons learned from the experience, and opportunities to generalize the techniques and technologies involved for other ICT for development (ICTD) applications. We find that CrowdFlower's most significant contribution to Mission 4636 and to the broader field of crowdsourced crisis relief lies in the flexible, scalable nature of the pool of earthquake survivors, volunteers, workers, and machines that the organization engaged during the emergency response efforts.