Using Precise to Help Refugees | Mycroft Partners with WorkAround

Originally published at: Helping Refugees with Wake Word Tagging | Mycroft + WorkAround

Mycroft is partnering with WorkAround -- a microwork platform that provides employment and a living wage to refugees and displaced persons -- for the tagging of Precise wake word samples.

When I arrived at the MassChallenge Boston accelerator in June of 2017, I quickly got to know a number of the companies in our batch. There was paddle boarding with Finnest on the Charles River, being on TV with CareAline and Veripad, and hiking with the teams of Clevot, Etiquette, Tot-em, and Cloudboost. Spending a summer in Boston with some top startups is hard to beat and I did my best to introduce myself around the MassChallenge space and get to know the other companies and their founders.

Thanks to that, in September when Mycroft was looking at the tens of thousands of wake word samples we were collecting from our Opted-In community members, and considering using Mechanical Turk to accelerate their tagging, I was able to raise my hand and say “We can do better than MTurk.” That was because I had taken a Lyft once from the MassChallenge building with Wafaa Arbash of WorkAround, who introduced me to her co-founder Jennie Kelly.

WorkAround is an online microwork platform that provides work opportunities to the 65 million displaced people in the world. Many of these are well-educated people with a smartphone or computer and internet access, but who may not be able to work in their trained professions while displaced from their homelands. Barely a year old, WorkAround has already provided work to over 250 displaced people in 7 different countries, their “WorkArounders.” Director of Operations and Finance Jennie Kelly notes,

economic opportunities for these skilled people provide stability for their families, helps integrate them into their new communities and reduces the risk of returning to conflict zones.”

WorkArounders also exercise other benefits of microwork like setting one’s own schedule, working from anywhere with an internet connection, and choosing which tasks to take and which to pass on. One WorkArounder, Rasheed Dadoush says,

I would like to thank WorkAround for the opportunity to work online, at a time when we need to have a glimmer of hope and some positive feelings.
Why go with WorkAround over MTurk or another platform? For one, it’s always great to work with a team you have a personal connection with. Additionally, WorkAround makes it simple to post a batch of work and get back quality results quickly. They handle all of the logistics of onboarding the workers and ensuring they are paid a living wage for their time and effort. We work closely with WorkAround to ensure the quality of the work is in line with the output of the Mycroft community (which it is). And given the turnaround of our first batch of tagging we sent to WorkAround, we could see the process scale fantastically when we need to develop a custom wake word for a customer or deploy something quickly for the community.

With the recent migration of Precise tagging into, we finally have adequate tracking of that process to offer it out to WorkAround, and to tie it to community engagement. For example, we can offer 5,000 utterances to WorkAround for every 20,000 tagged by the community, adding a 25% boost to the efforts of the community and providing economic stability to refugees around the world.

There are a couple ways for the community to get involved. First and foremost is to Opt-In to the Mycroft Open Dataset so your wake words get added to the Precise tagger. Do this at under Settings. Next is to tag some wake words yourself at under the Tagging tab. Doing both, or even one of these, will ensure we continue to get better at spotting wake words while doing some worldly good in the process.

Would your organization like to expand your corporate social responsibility, see results in tagging, translation, data entry, or transcription, all while knowing that you’re helping refugees and displaced persons gain economic stability? WorkAround might be the perfect fit. You can get in touch with Jennie directly to discuss your project at

1 Like