At various points people have tried to create distributed workforces that can do things like verify business locations, transit information or take pictures of storefronts. Google did a version of this in the form of its Local Business Representative Referral program. The program was later abandoned.
Now Gigwalk, which tons of people are writing about today, has created a simple way to tap into a distributed workforce (US for now) to collect data, images, video and other information or content that was previously unavailable. Quality and reliability are the only question marks.
Gigwalk doesn’t offer an alternative to local sales reps, but it’s a way to collect data and content that would have been perhaps prohibitively expensive to obtain in the past. This is MechanicalTurk for the real world — though less exploitative it would appear.
Based on an iPhone app (and probably Android soon) Gigwalk matches local people with requested tasks called “gigs.” They can pay between $3 and $50 according to the site. Students, retirees, stay at home parents and the unemployed form a large potential pool of workers for the service.
Gigwalk is currently available in the SF Bay Area, LA, Philadelphia, Florida, Boston, New York and Chicago.
I can imagine lots of creative uses for Gigwalk — one in the promotion video on the site is checking store inventory. But how do you think companies large and small might use the service?