A novel smartphone app, already being used to monitor hundreds of railway stations in Germany, can earn you money as you go about your normal day.
The AppJobber phone app benefits from many people being online all the time as they move around their cities. Worldwide, 13% of all Internet traffic is to mobile phones and tablets.
With all these phones available and their locations pinpointed by satnav, Tobias Klug and Robert Lokaiczyk had the idea of a service doing ‘microjobs’ via crowdsourcing.
“Why not distribute small jobs to all these phones and get people out there to do them in return for a small payment? It’s cheaper than companies sending out their own employees and in the end often faster and more flexible,” says Dr Lokaiczyk.
Initially a spin-off from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany, their start-up company “wer denkt was” (“who thinks what”) is now supported by the ESA Business Incubation Centre Darmstadt, one of seven centres across Europe.
800 rail stations monitored by AppJobber
“We now have clients like Deutsche Bahn who would like to know when one of their ticket machines is out of order, a signboard is not working, a station light has failed or something has been vandalised,” says Dr Krug, CEO.
“This can easily be resolved by anyone with a smartphone passing the stations – just take a picture, write a few words and send it in. The images are location-tagged precisely with satellite navigation data. And the one doing the microjob gets paid a few euros.”
For their hundreds of car and bike rental facilities, Deutsche Bahn now use AppJobber for quality checks like “Pressure ok on bikes?” and “Is rental station clean and ready to use?”
“This saves them time and money, and reduces the company’s carbon footprint by cutting travel.”
The company agrees with their 100-plus clients on which jobs are distributed to the registered users’ smartphones on AppJobber.
Each jobs typically takes only a few minutes and is rewarded by at least one or two euros. Bigger jobs are paid more – all in proportion to the time they take to do.
“We also have many jobs on traffic signs and road conditions. Here, our users take pictures of speed limits, parking spaces, one-way roads, lorry restrictions and new roads.”
Advertised on maps, users can easily see jobs in their vicinity, each presented with a short description, what is required and the amount offered. Typically, a couple of pictures are required along with a completed questionnaire.
Microjobs reduce greenhouse gases
AppJobber is now available in English, German and Italian for smartphones with Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems, serving as the platform to advertise all the microjobs to registered users. The app has already been downloaded more than 100 000 times.