Crowdsourcing involves taking a large task and breaking it down into small, well defined tasks for a crowd of people to complete. With regards to COBWEB, the task involves the collection of environmental data. For example the UK’s Wetland Bird Survey which has been running since 1947 co-ordinates around 3,000 volunteers each year recording at wetlands of all habitat type.
The internet, social media, and unprecedented growth in the popularity of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), many of which are equipped with GPS sensors and available with internet connecitvity, have increased the ways individuals can choose to participate and contribute to crowdsourcing projects and research initiatives. This means there is significant potential for citizens to act as sensors within the environment that they live, collecting data with their pocket computers. COBWEB seeks to design a suitable 'software infrastructure' to facilitate and make this possible, ensuring that the data collected by citizens are reliable and trustworthy enough for governments and researchers to use.