NASA To Crowdsource Software Development - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Government // Enterprise Architecture

NASA To Crowdsource Software Development

The agency has created an online lab that allows developers to compete to create solutions for problems submitted by NASA researchers.

Slideshow: Who's Who In U.S. Intelligence
(click for larger image and for full slideshow)
NASA has collaborated with Harvard University to open a new virtual laboratory in which software developers can compete to create code for the space agency.

Taking a crowdsourcing approach to software development, NASA researchers will use the NASA Tournament Lab, an online environment, to ask for a solution to a computational or complex data-processing challenge, according to the space agency.

Developers then can compete with each other to solve the problems, with solutions rated based on internal code quality, performance against benchmarks and the ability to be integrated into NASA systems. The win for the space agency is that it will receive new applications for a lower cost than if it were to hire outside developers, according to NASA.

The Obama administration has encouraged government agencies to use challenges to foster innovation and make the U.S. more competitive overseas in technology and science. NASA especially has embraced this strategy, offering numerous developer challenges to help it develop new technology. The NTL is actually a follow-up to NASA's TopCoder Challenge, in which developers were asked to develop algorithms to improve medical kits for use in long-duration human space exploration for NASA's Space Life Sciences Directorate. TopCoder Inc., which worked with NASA on that challenge, also is working with Harvard to administer NTL tournaments.

The Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science is hosting the lab under the direction of a crowdsourcing scholar, Harvard Business School Professor Karim R. Lakhani. The chief economist for the NTL is London Business School Professor Kevin Boudreau, an expert on platform-based competition. Both institutions also took part in the TopCoder Challenge.

Lakhani and Boudreau will use the lab to conduct their own research on contest design to determine what yields the best results. NASA and other government agencies will use this research to design future challenges, according to the space agency.

NASA will track the activities of NTL developers in real time and post performance statistics online. The NTL site also will feature discussion boards and a wiki on which developers can share information.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 Outlook: Tackling Cloud Transformation Choices
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/4/2021
Enterprise IT Leaders Face Two Paths to AI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/23/2020
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Flash Poll