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What can you build on the Murmurations protocol?

The Murmurations protocol’s flexibility and emphasis on decentralised data sharing make it suitable for multiple use cases. The most obvious examples of how it can be used are maps and directories but these are only the beginning. In this blog post we explore some of the other scenarios where the protocol would be beneficial by enabling large networks of users to collaborate via shared, decentralised data sets:

Local maps and directories drawing data from multiple sources

  • Local Maps: Mapping is the primary use case for Murmurations and there is already a large data set of geographic data on all types of organisations being shared via the Murmurations protocol. One of the advantages of Murmurations is the ability to combine data from multiple data sources and reuse it in different ways. For example, data from the same decentralised data set is being used to create a global map of organisations, as well as the maps of Vegan places in Berlin, Co-ops in London, Alternative economy projects in Paris and the Transition Towns around the world which you can see on our post about quick customised embedded maps. The ability to aggregate specific subsets of data, contributed from multiple sources, in multiple ways provides a clear demonstration of the power of the protocol and the advantages of collaborative data sharing.
  • Directories: A directory is basically just another way of displaying and filtering a large data set. Murmurations makes it extremely easy to build and curate customised directories from exactly the same data set used to create the maps above. For example, you can see all the data in Murmurations in a directory format via the index explorer, and search and filter it in multiple ways. Subsets of the same data set have also been used to create the demonstration directory of Software companies, a directory of Offers and Wants, and a directory of ethical organisations in London.
  • How to create maps and directories: You can make maps and directories using your own code or use the WordPress Collaborative Map Builder Plugin.

Environmental Monitoring and Conservation

  • Biodiversity Tracking: Biodiversity projects require large amounts of data to be collected, recorded and aggregated over time in order to track wildlife populations and biodiversity. The wider the area, and the more sites that are monitored, the more resource intensive the challenge becomes. Murmurations would enable multiple people and organisations to collaboratively monitor, contribute to and access a unified database, distributing the effort of tracking species’ health and distributions.
  • Climate Data: Distributing the effort of the collection and recording of climate data from multiple sources such as weather stations, satellites, and research institutions would have similar benefits. Murmurations could enable a comprehensive global climate monitoring network via which everyone would benefit from access to a larger, standardised and interoperable collaborative data set.

Public Health and Epidemiology

  • Disease Outbreak Tracking: Murmurations could facilitate rapid sharing of standardised data related to disease outbreaks, enabling better coordination between health agencies, researchers, and governments.
  • Health Resource Directories: The protocol could also be used to create decentralised directories of health resources, such as clinics, vaccination sites, and medical supply locations, that could be updated by multiple stakeholders.

Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response

  • Resource Allocation: Murmurations could be used to share information about available resources, such as food, water, and shelter, in disaster-affected areas to improve coordination among aid organisations.
  • Volunteer Coordination: Maintaining a dynamic and up to date directory of volunteers and their skills is never easy because, by its very nature, the most up to date data is distributed between multiple people and organisations. Using Murmurations for volunteer coordination would enable more efficient volunteer deployment, especially in response to crises.

Education and Research Collaboration

  • Open Research Networks: Research networks are a perfect use case for Murmurations because researchers intuitively understand the value of data sharing and building on each other’s work. By enabling researchers from different institutions to share data and collaborate on large, distributed and interoperable data sets, Murmurations could foster a more open and integrated research environment in numerous sectors.
  • Educational Resource Sharing: Decentralised platforms for sharing educational materials, curricula, and resources among schools, universities, and educators is another obvious use case for Murmurations. Education should be free for everyone and the creation of a Murmurations ‘educational resources’ schema would enable multiple academic organisations to aggregate, filter and present a wide range of different ‘educational hubs’, built from the same shared educational data commons.

Agriculture and Food Security

  • Farm Data Sharing: Farmers and agricultural organisations could share data on crop yields, soil health and pest outbreaks using Murmurations to improve overall agricultural practices and food security. The YEN project already collects this type of data from a wide range of farms via a network of international YENs, but the data is not openly accessible which limits opportunities for other researchers to analyse the source data and search for new patterns and discoveries. By coordinating data collection and recording via Murmurations and opening up the data set to a wider range of researchers the YENs would be able to deliver far greater value, potentially speeding up discoveries to increase food security and reduce global hunger. The YENs, and other networks, could even control access to some or all of the data being shared via use of encrypted data fields*, providing a means to balance open data access with commercial requirements.  
  • Supply Chain Transparency: Murmurations could also be used to track and share data along agricultural supply chains, from field to fork, to increase the transparency and efficiency of food distribution.

*encrypted data fields are a feature which has been designed and specified but has not yet been built out in Murmurations, if you would be interested in using, or funding the build of this feature please get in touch.

Smart Cities and Urban Planning

  • Infrastructure Monitoring: Murmurations could be used to share data on urban infrastructure such as traffic patterns, energy usage, and public transport to support smart cities and improve city planning and resource management. A ‘smart cities schema’ featuring the maximum data archetype (all the required fields to describe) for a smart city would enable different cities to learn from and build collaboratively, alongside each other, at the same time as enabling more effective data sharing and collaboration between citizens, businesses and local authorities within a city or municipality.
  • Community Projects: Murmurations could provide a simple way to coordinate and share information on community-led projects, such as urban gardens or local renewable energy initiatives.

Cultural Heritage and Tourism

  • Heritage Site Management: Managing and sharing data on cultural heritage sites, including historical information, conservation status, and visitor statistics would obviously benefit from a collaborative approach. Murmurations would enable anyone with data on specific sites to contribute their knowledge and resources to a more comprehensive data set than they could ever achieve alone.
  • Tourism Directories: Murmurations could also be used to create decentralised directories of tourist attractions, services, and accommodation that could be updated by local businesses and tourism boards.

Decentralised Social Networks

  • Interest-Based Communities: As explained by Matthew Slater in The missing social network, “decentralised movements need protocols to coordinate” but, because “there is no good software to do it” grassroots communities end up wasting huge amounts of time and effort reinventing the wheel by building their own bespoke software AND lack the benefits of the network effort since they remain disconnected from each other. Murmurations could facilitate the creation of decentralised social networks where users can share and aggregate data around specific interests or causes without relying on centralised platforms.
  • Event Coordination: Murmurations could also be used to share and aggregate information about events, meetups, and activities within communities, allowing for better engagement and participation.

Decentralised Marketplaces

  • Peer-to-Peer Commerce: Murmurations could be used to support the creation of decentralised marketplaces where buyers and sellers can share product listings, reviews and transaction data without a central intermediary. Imagine if Freecycle, or any other network or marketplace, wanted to expand its scope by making its data interoperable with other sites. By enabling users to post their Offers and Wants using the Murmurations Offers and Wants schema (rather than their current, closed-source forms and centralised data stores) they could deliver a much wider volume of potential matches to their users. Anyone who wanted to aggregate Offers and Wants could do so, for a specific village, town, country and/or sector (e.g. second hand cameras in Paris), while another aggregator might chose to feature, match and notify people about all Offers and Wants according to their specific preferences (e.g. free furniture in north London). The advantages of Murmuration’s decentralised approach being that users could publish to multiple platforms with a single post, using the gift economy, fiat or crypto currencies, and could reduce or expand the ‘geographic scope’ of their Offers and Wants in order to limit inquiries to a specific region. As with all marketplaces, size matters because it makes the market more likely to meet traders’ needs. Murmuration’s decentralised approach could be used to connect multiple small, local markets into a global trading network.
  • Service Directories: A directory of service providers could be created in the same way, enabling anyone to list their offerings and share data on availability, prices and customer feedback in a decentralised manner.

Systems and relationships mapping 

  • Systems mapping: Murmurations data can be compiled and fed into systems mapping tools, such as Kumu, to present rich mixes of data and allow users to explore the relationships between the data in a visual form. Imagine if The Austin Social Innovation Ecosystem Map had created a Murmurations schema to gather data, instead of a closed source form and a centralised data store – it wouldn’t say “Note: This map is no longer being updated” at the top of the map – because anyone could contribute by adding more data to the map and everyone else would benefit too, because data added to the Austin Social Innovation map would be available to other aggregators too, and the current map could be automatically updated as new nodes are added, without the need for an administrator to make manual updates.
  • Relationship mapping: Murmurations also makes it possible for a data point to specify relationships to other data. These relationships are expressed using semantic triples in the form of subject→predicate→object, e.g., ‘Bob is 33’, or ‘Bob is friends with Alice’. Triples can be combined in a myriad of ways to express simple and complex relationships between nodes. The triples (relationship data) within Murmurations can be utilised in graph databases and leverage the visualisation tools which work with graph databases to create detailed relationship maps in the spirit of the semantic web.

Local, or sector specific, news sites

  • News Sites: Murmurations profiles can include links to RSS feeds – making them very useful for building regional, or sector specific news sites by aggregating blog posts from a specific region, or on a certain topic. The Murmurations WordPress Aggregator only needs a little more development to enable it to pull in RSS feeds and convert the individual feed items into WordPress posts, which include the tags the original publisher assigned. This would enable aggregators to provide sector, or regionally specific news, which could be filtered for one or more tags. For example, a network organisation, like the Global Ecovillage Network could use the Murmurations WordPress Aggregator to set up an automatically updated news site showing news from all of their members, which viewers could filter by country, region, or tags – for example, to show the latest news or information from all eco villages which are working on (have tagged their posts with) “solar PV” and/or “biodiversity”, providing a rich source of highly focused news.

Skills and needs matching

  • Collaboration often requires matching skills with needs, which can be easily delivered in a decentralised manner. The Open Projects Hub is a concept for a market-place of open development projects which anyone can contribute to, sponsor or even invest in, to help accelerate progress towards a collaborative, regenerative economy. Organisations and other teams looking to promote their Projects, attract collaborators and solicit funding would complete a Project profile so that the Projects could be listed (on one or more sites – by anyone who wanted to set up an Open Projects Hub aggregator site), searched and discovered. This would provide a useful reference point for anyone thinking of starting a new project by revealing similar projects, overlaps and, ideally reducing ‘wheel reinvention’. People that were interested in discovering and contributing to Projects could also ‘join’ the Open Projects Hub, by creating an ‘Individual’ Profile, or adding additional info to their existing Profile. With details of both Projects and People an Open Projects Hub aggregator could be set up to list, or map, both entities, allowing others to browse and filter these to discover and connect with potential collaborators, and, with just a little bit of matching (as per the Offers and Wants matching we built for The Open Credit Network) the site could also notify People about Projects which need their skills, and vice versa. From here it would only be a small step to incorporate bounties, to enable users to crowdfund specific tasks, or whole Projects which they want to see developed, creating a rich, democratic, transparent network of open collaboration.

Hopefully these examples of how the Murmurations protocol could be used help explain the collaborative potential of the protocol? Let us know if you have questions, comments or other ideas!

This post is an update to a previous blog post with the same title from July 2022.

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