Reward-Based Participant Management for Crowdsourcing Rainfall Monitoring: An Agent-Based Model Simulation

Pan Yang, Tze Ling Ng, Ximing Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crowdsourcing incorporates common citizens as rich sources of data and is promising for environmental monitoring. In this paper, we propose and test the idea of incorporating incentives to crowdsourcing management for rainfall monitoring. Specifically, we model the allocation of incentives (quantitatively measurable and limited rewards) among crowdsourcing participants for a theoretical rainfall monitoring case. For this purpose, we develop an integrated model comprising a reward allocation component to represent the decision-making process of a central manager, an agent-based model to simulate the interactions between the manager and participants, and a rainfall simulation model to evaluate the effectiveness of various reward allocation policies. We simulate six reward allocation policies of varying levels of administrative cost, and consideration of participant and rainfall spatial heterogeneities. The results suggest the performance of each policy to improve with the reward budget and their spatial uniformity. Among the six policies tested, we find that the participant density weighted maximum participation policy yields the most accurate estimation of rainfall intensity due to its more explicit consideration of the spatial distribution of participants; however, this policy associates with a high administrative cost. This highlights the trade-off between performance and cost in designing effective reward allocation policies. This paper provides a physical and behavior simulation modeling tool to study the feasibility and complexity of reward-based participant management for crowdsourcing rainfall monitoring. The proposed crowdsourcing method is beneficial for a wide range of applications that require rainfall data with fine resolution, such as storm water management and water availability and biomass assessment for food and energy crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8122-8141
Number of pages20
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • agent-based model
  • crowdsourcing
  • participant management
  • rainfall monitoring
  • reward allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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