Project Crowdsourcing and National Mapping - Phase 1

Crowdsourcing of geospatial data and information has become a very popular topic of research in GIS and related disciplines over the past few years. In 2007 Goodchild coined the term “Volunteered Geographic Information” or VGI (Goodchild, 2007) which represents the concept of citizens collecting and recording geospatial information using their own devices with specially designed software and web-services such as Wikis. Since 2007 there has been considerable research carried out by the academic community into understanding different aspects of crowdsourcing of geospatial data. The key areas of research investigation include: comparison of the geometrical and semantic accuracy of VGI or crowdsourced datasets with gold-standard datasets such as those produced by National Mapping Agencies; analysis of the contributors to VGI projects and the characteristics of their contributions; the role of VGI in supplying geospatial data where there is no authoritative agency, such as in the developing world; and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these crowdsourced datasets and databases in terms of being either a complement or a competitor to commercially produced geospatial data or National Mapping and Cadastral Agency geospatial data products.

The emergence of VGI and crowdsourcing was coupled with this dramatic increase in interest from the academic community. At the same time, the economic climate was changing. Many National Mapping Agencies have been finding their budgets and resources under increased pressure with many being required to do more with less. Could crowdsourced collection of geospatial data and VGI be used by NMAs? Under which conditions could geospatial data collected by citizens be used by NMAs?

The primary motivation of this project has been to investigate the scope for crowdsourced geospatial data and VGI to be used by National Mapping Agencies. The project sought the joint support of AGILE and EuroSDR so as to engage both the leading research agencies and national mapping agencies within Europe. The project sought to establish a number of research internships
which would be based on collaboration between academic and NMA partners.