Not long ago, I received an interesting question to an article I wrote about the BP oil spill and the 1,000s of suggestions that flooded into BP or British Petroleum as to what to do about their gulf oil drilling accident. Interestingly enough, there is something BP can do with all these suggestions, and it would be good to get out ahead of the negativity in the media and their trashing of BP’s Brand Name. Let’s face it there are nearly 50,000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico and it supplies almost 30% of our US oil – we can’t just turn it off.
Here is my suggestion to the challenge British Petroleum has when it comes to what to do with 1,000s and 1,000s of suggestion tips which have been coming in non-stop to its tip hotline. What BP needs to do is to borrow some help from the online community and use “Crowd Sourcing” techniques, those like DARPA recently used when it “Challenged” everyone to find the “Red Balloons” 10-of them which were scattered around the country. MIT found all ten, in an extremely short time.
This strategy makes sense for DARPA as it could someday be used for military purposes, such as it could be used to look at satellite photos of Iran to find anomalies, nuclear facilities. It also has potential space applications with NASA – finding locations on Mars that might have ice or water, potential landing sites, maybe even surveying galaxies to find similar exo-planets to Earth, which might contain life, etc.
What I am saying is that British Petroleum should post ALL of the suggestions online, put it out there, as it shows transparency and it is a good PR move too. Something Congress is afraid to do with the bills it passes. This will allow independent teams to work through those lists of suggestions and citizens to “rate” the ideas. Then teams can whittle all the ideas down, find duplicates, and see if the “wisdom of the crowd” prevails and finds consensus on various types of solutions.
Let’s help BP find the best ideas and when this is completed give out prizes to the winners. The ideas that win, go ahead and give 5-scholarships to MIT, or a top engineering school. Perhaps, give $100,000 seed money for any innovative project that the team with the best idea, might like to do. Why not turn an unfortunate situation into a positive one. Rather than playing all the doom and gloom in the media with screaming environmentalists, or any mean-spirited person the media can drum up for a sound bite, we can make some progress on potential future solutions in case the present solutions don’t work out.