Mapmaking for the masses

Dec 03, 2007

Sites such as Wikimapia and OpenStreetMap are empowering citizens to create a global patchwork of geographic information while Google Earth is encouraging individuals to develop appplications using their own data.

According to Michael Goodchild from the University of California in Santa Barbara, ‘volunteered geographic information’ has the potential to be a significant source of geographers’ understanding of the surface of the Earth. Its most interesting, lasting and compelling value to geographers lies in what it can tell them about local activities in various geographic locations that go unnoticed by the world’s media, he says. His review has just been published online in Springer’s GeoJournal.

Goodchild’s paper looks at volunteered geographic information as a special case of the more general Web phenomenon of user-generated content. It covers what motivates large numbers of individuals (often with little formal qualifications) to take part, what technology allows them to do so, how accurate the results are and what volunteered geographic information can add to more conventional sources of such information.

Goodchild identifies Web 2.0, georeferencing, geotags, Global Positioning System and broadband communication as the enabling technologies. In his opinion, self-promotion and personal satisfaction from seeing their contributions appear online are the primary motivators for individuals to take part in volunteered geographic information. However, Goodchild also identifies the potential for individuals to attempt to undermine its accuracy.

He concludes that “collectively volunteered geographic information represents a dramatic innovation that will certainly have profound impacts on geographic information systems and more generally on the discipline of geography and its relationship to the general public.”

Source: Springer

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Large carnivores with large geographic ranges better-studied

Apr 02, 2014

Scientists tend to study larger carnivores with larger geographic ranges than those with greater adaptability and broader diets, according to results published April 2, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Zoe Br ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

20 hours ago

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...