Crowd-Based Applications and Societal Challenges


  • Gilberto Marzano


The spread of mobile technology and ubiquitous connectivity have opened great possibilities for the implementation of applications that leverage data generated by normal users’ interactions on the web. As a consequence, there is a growing interest in crowd-based applications, namely those programs that involve people in a participatory or opportunistic way.
In many cases, data can be gathered automatically without user intervention and, in some cases, even without their explicit knowledge. The possibility to elude a users’ awareness fosters concerns regarding the potential risks hidden inside crowd-based applications. These applications might compromise the privacy of citizens, whilst data collected by them might be used to manipulate people’s opinions.
The governance of technology is a controversial area, and there is a wide array of different positions on the matter. There are those who dogmatically argue the positive value of technology, while others interpret the ongoing digital advancements as a dystopian menace.
This article focuses on crowd-based applications, highlighting some societal challenges and risks that they may present.
Technology runs so fast that it is challenging to keep pace with the changes brought by the digital revolution. However, an effort is required to extend the depth of digital knowledge of citizens and involve them in the use of the new technologies, and in this endeavor, greater knowledge is an essential step in any critical process.

Keywords: citizens’ privacy, crowd-based application, crowdsourcing, crowdsensing, citizensensing, societal challenges