DARPA using Social Media to crowdsource innovation

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This weekly blog pinpoints huge happenings in the world of Federal government contracting. Check out more on our Twitter account: @RIVA_Solutions. And search our new hashtag, #FedBuzz, for daily updates and join the conversation! Weekly, we, here at RIVA Solutions, like to spotlight government agencies that are leading the way as part of the new social government. We profile the agencies, their public affairs officers, new media directors, web mavens and other gov communicators who give form to the messages that the agencies want to convey. Are you ready to learn about this week’s agency? Read on!

Recently, we discussed how DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was embracing emerging technologies with the DARPA Cheetah video on YouTube, DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O), and the Cash for Locating and Identifying Quick Response (CLIQR) Quest Challenge. However we haven’t discussed the results of these challenges.

Over the course of the last few years, DARPA has released a number of challenges whose purposes have ranged from CrowdSourcing to Communication Testing. Many of these things have had an impact on DARPA’s social media presence. They have increased followers, retweets, and views. Here is how.

DARPA live-tweet

In August 2011, DARPA tested the flight of Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 or HTV-2, technologies to make long-duration hypersonic flight a reality.

According to WIRED’s Danger Room blog, DARPA doubled the number of Twitter followers by fueling the anticipation for the launch for months. “Dugan talked up HTV-2 at technology conferences. In an unusual move for the sometimes-secretive agency, Darpa live-tweeted the countdown doubling its number of followers in less than a week.” The tweets read things like “T-16 minutes: ‘ALL STATIONS REPORT GO‘”.

Read more about the event at http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/08/mach-20-missile-lost-again/#more-54264

Here is a video of the amazing HTV-2 in action: http://youtu.be/cZuUUyZE0wQ

Cheetah robot video gets ~3 million views

Screen capture of Cheetah Video

DARPA’s  YouTube channel has over 7 million views. For comparison, the US Army has just over 500k. Is this because of DARPA’s social reach or content?

DARPA highlighted a video of its Cheetah robot setting a speed record. The video was highlighted on Facebook, Twitter and Google +. It now has almost 3 million views. I have mentioned the DARPA Cheetah video on several occasions, because of the concept and my love of science and technology. Watching the video is like a sci-fi kids dreams come true. But this could just be my opinion.

Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/d2D71CveQwo

DARPA Network Challenge

MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team – Professor Sandy Pentland, Manuel Cebrian, Anmol Madan, Galen Pickard, Riley Crane, Wei Pan

Also known as the “Red Balloon Challenge.” On the 4oth Anniversary of the Internet, DARPA announced a challenge to leverage social media to locate 10 red balloons scattered across the country. A team from MIT located all 10 in around 8 hours.

The DARPA Network Challenge was a competition that explored the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.

“The challenge generated a number of insights. It showed how mass and social media can act effectively for viral dissemination of information. The challenge showed the general effectiveness of using crowdsourcing techniques to solve geographically-distributed, time-sensitive problems. DARPA noted that though social networks can be a powerful source of intelligence.” – Wikipedia

More info at http://archive.darpa.mil/networkchallenge/

Crowdsourcing Difficult Problems

DARPA has looked to the crowd to solve a variety problems. DARPA’s Foldit created a protein folding game that has helped solve problems that have eluded researchers for years: http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2012/01/25.aspx

The ACTUV program launched a submarine hunting game in 2011 that allowed anyone to take the helm of an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV). Using a game, this challenge allowed everyone to take part in tracking quiet submarines and helped DARPA explore the Navy’s ASW ToolKit.

Read the news release here: http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2011/2011/04/04_DARPA%E2%80%99s_Anti-Submarine_Warfare_game_goes_live.aspx

You can still download the game at http://archive.darpa.mil/actuv/

A current and active competition is UAVForge – a crowdsourcing competition sponsored by DARPA and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic to design, build and manufacture advanced small unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems.

Read about another DARPA Challenge, “The Shredder Challenge,” at http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/security/231902289 – Another form of Crowdsourcing.

Visit any of these DARPA Handles to see what DARPA comes up with next. Who knows, maybe you can be a part of a team that wins $40,000.

Twitter: @DARPA
Facebook: DARPA
Google+: DARPA
YouTube: DARPATV

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