CSC: Crowd Soft Control

A number of novel wireless networked services, ranging from participatory sensing to social networking, leverage the increasing capabilities of mobile devices and the movement of the individuals carrying them. For many of these systems, their effectiveness fundamentally depends on coverage and the particular mobility patterns of the participants. Given the strong spatial and temporal regularity of human mobility, the needed coverage can typically only be attained through a large participant base.

In this paper we explore an alternative approach to attain coverage without scale — (soft) controlling the movement of participants. We present Crowd Soft Control (CSC), an approach to exert limited control over the temporal and spatial movements of mobile users by leveraging the built-in incentives of location-based gaming and social applications. By pairing network services with these location-based apps, CSC allows researchers to use an application’s incentives (e.g. games objectives) to control the movement of participating users, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the associated network service. After outlining the case for Crowd Soft Control, we present an initial prototype of our ideas and discuss potential benefits and costs in the context of two case studies.


  • In Virtual World, Phone Game Controls You!
    March 19, 2012 | Discovery News
  • Mobile games be used for `soft` crowd control
    March 19, 2012 | Wired News
  • Using Virtual Worlds to `Soft Control` People`s Movements in the Real One
    March 19, 2012 | Communications of the ACM News
  • Using Virtual Worlds to `Soft Control` People`s Movements in the Real One
    March 16, 2012 | McCormick by Design



John P. Rula, Fabián E. Bustamante. Crowd Soft Control — Moving Beyond the OpportunisticIn Proc. of HotMobile, February 2012