Marcus Thielking is the co-founder of skobbler, a leading provider of mobile map-based solutions. Follow the company at @skobbler.
It can be easy to underestimate the time and effort that developers invest in creating many of today’s most popular apps or services. After all, these unsung heroes must navigate the challenge of building a great user experience while dealing with issues like funding.
However, there are certain crowdsourced platforms that developers can use to address the quality of their product and the money they’ll need to create it. These services can range from crowd-funding platforms to community data sets. Below, are five collaborative platforms that can really help developers create the best product possible.
What Is It:OpenStreetMapis often appropriately referred to as the Wikipedia of maps. European entrepreneur Steve Coast founded the project in July 2004 when he was looking to create a free, crowdsourced map of the entire world. As of today, OpenStreetMap says it is nearing 700,000 registered users. Everyone fromFoursquaretoAppleis now leveraging OpenStreetMap in one way or another.
Why It’s Important: For developers, location data can be the lifeblood of a service. OpenStreetMap provides developers with deep, rich, and affordable location information to build into apps and other projects.
The Gist: OpenStreetMap provides users with a free and constantly updated source for accurate, detailed map data. If you’re a developer working on a location-based service, this might be for you.
What Is It:While OpenStreetMap makes it possible to map the outside world, what about the great indoors?Walkbasecrowdsources location data from various mobile apps, providing a scalable, cloud-based indoor positioning platform that can be used to build location-aware mobile applications. Every room has a set of fingerprints and Walkbase can identify them, defining a room for app developers.
Why It’s Important: Tying a user to a room in a building is endlessly useful technology. Imagine developers pushing real-time, room-level information, including in-game content, advertisements, or coupons, specific to the user’s location. One drawback to Walkbase is that it’s currently only available for Android.
The Gist: The Walkbase API gives developers access to valuable indoor positioning data that will help drive local room-level context. More importantly, it provides users with engaging content that can potentially help developers, startups, and brands.
3. Weather Underground
What Is It:Weather Underground, now owned by The Weather Channel, is the Internet’s oldest resource for weather forecasts. While most of the company’s data is pulled from the National Weather Service, Weather Underground crowdsources weather observations from all over the world to ensure that their forecasts are accurate and reliable. They understand that more data can mean better data.
Why It’s Important: Weather Underground offers developers an API to integrate real-time weather data into their apps and websites. If you’re OpenTable or Foursquare, for instance, think of the utility.
The Gist: With accurate, affordable weather information, Weather Underground is an open data pioneer, and is a great choice for developers looking to create an app with weather functionality.
What Is It:We all know whatInstagramis, and may think of it as the now Facebook-owned app that can help you turn your average camera phone images into filter-driven works of art. For app developers, Instagram is much more than that. To get the utility, you have to view Instagram for what it really is to the developer looking to integrate the API. It’s a crowdsourced photo library for authentic images.
Why It’s Important: Believe it or not, but leveraging imagery to help enhance an user’s experience within your service doesn’t come cheap. Licensing models are complex and expensive, making imagery an actual commodity. Through the Instagram API, though, startups like Fancy have access to community images that are affordable and authentic and that improve in-app experiences.
The Gist: Instagram delivers photos and image data for developers. The Instagram API allows users to integrate compelling content that extends the utility of an existing app for their user base.
What It Does:While not an open data set,Kickstarteroffers a venue for entrepreneurs, developers, fundraisers, musicians, and pretty much anyone else, to raise money for just about anything.
While Kickstarter can’t be directly integrated into an app, it serves a few key purposes. First, it’s a venue for entrepreneurs to share their ideas with the world. Second, it’s an outlet for these entrepreneurs to raise the capital needed to make that dream project a reality. Finally, it allows developers to create buzz around their product and cultivate a strong and engaged user base even before the coding begins.
Why It’s Important: Kickstarter democratizes the fundraising process, no matter how big or small the fundraising goal may be.
The Gist: If the developer has the right idea and is ready to give it a shot in a very public way, crowdsourced funding through platforms like Kickstarter can quickly become their best friend.
What platforms do you use? Share them in the comments below.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, nullplus