Consider it payback: You can now get paid to take photos of all those vegetables your mother used to make you eat when you were a kid.
Premise, a company that tracks economic indicators, is enlisting smartphone users around the world to collect photos of anything that would indicate the economic vitality of their local community, including vegetables, fruits, and local health clinics.
The company believes that in this way it can provide economic metrics more quickly and accurately than many government agencies, which release them in lengthier intervals (weeks to months).
CEO David Soloff, as quoted in Time:
“What people experience in their day-to-day lives is frequently really, really different from what the official government or news bureau or stats-gathering agencies tell them about their lives.”
Each local hired by Premise gets paid 15 cents per photo—if they are approved. Premise vets each app user and puts them through a trial run to make sure they meet the criteria the company is looking for.
“These are students or people on the way to jobs or people who are doing the weekly shopping for their families at the market,” Soloff told Time.
According to Premise, app users in 50 cities across four continents have been approved to date.
The app has its proponents (it raised 11 $million in a series B round of funding this winter) but also its detractors. Barry Bosworth, an economist at the Brookings Institution, told Time the data collected by Premise “will reflect all the biases of the reporter who decides what prices to report.” For data like this, he added, the internet will be a valuable collection tool in the future, but “it will have to be used with some structure to assure that the individual quotes are representative of an even larger underlying population.”
Premise dismisses the claim that its data is unreliable or that its operation lacks organization . As Sotloff told the New Yorker when the app first appeared last fall, “We’re pretty tightly scripted in terms of what we’re covering and where we’re sending people, so that’s actually ample coverage.”