4X: A hybrid approach for scaffolding data collection and interest in low-effort participatory sensing

Kapil Garg, K. I.M. Yongsung, Darren Gergle, Haoqi Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Participatory sensing systems in which people actively participate in the data collection process must account for both the needs of data contributors and the data collection goals. Existing approaches tend to emphasize one or the other, with opportunistic and directed approaches making opposing tradeoffs between providing convenient opportunities for contributors and collecting high-fidelity data. This paper explores a new, hybrid approach, in which collected data–even if low-fidelity initially–can provide useful information to data contributors and inspire further contributions. We realize this approach with 4X, a multi-stage data collection framework that first collects data opportunistically by requesting contributions at specific locations along users’ routes and then uses collected data to direct users to locations of interest to make additional contributions that build data fidelity and coverage. To study the efficacy of 4X, we implemented 4X into LES, an application for collecting information about campus locations and events. Results from two field deployments (N = 95, N = 18) show that the 4X framework created 34% more opportunities for contributing data without increasing disruption, and yielded 49% more data by directing users to locations of interest. Our results demonstrate the value and potential of multi-stage, dynamic data collection processes that draw on multiple sources of motivation for data, and how they can be used to better meet data collection goals as data becomes available while avoiding unnecessary disruption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Mobile Crowdsourcing
  • Participatory Sensing
  • Physical Crowdsourcing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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