Hidden in Plain Sight: A Crowdsourced Public Art Contest to Make Automated External Defibrillators More Visible

Raina Merchant and colleagues want to raise awareness about automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and use artwork to make AED locations more memorable. In a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health, Merchant et al use an online crowdsourcing design contest -- the Defibrillator Design Challenge -- to engage the public to this end. The goal of the project was not to install designs submitted as part of the contest, but to test whether the public would create them, vote on them, and share them. It is a follow-up to MyHeartMap Challenge, a crowdsourcing contest that engaged the public to locate and report the locations of AEDs. The Defibrillator Design Challenge expands on the location work to explore ways of making AEDs more visible and noticeable in their physical space. Over a two month period, the competition engaged more than 13,000 individuals to participate and disseminate information about AEDs, including through social media. Those who submitted designs could win cash prizes by popularity or expert panel acknowledgment.

Key conclusions of the study include:

  • Twenty percent of participants were older than 40, illustrating the potential to access multiple age groups through a crowdsourcing project.
  • The authors identified themes in the submitted designs that may be useful for future public health campaigns or initiatives that seek to raise awareness about AEDs.
  • The authors defined and collected several crowdsourcing metrics (e.g., participation demographics, motivations for participation) that could be useful for designing subsequent public health contests.
  • The authors suggest that monetary rewards may be unnecessary in crowdsourcing contests. When asked, the majority of the designers reported that they participated to contribute to an important cause (44%) rather than to win the prize money (0.8%).