Volunteered geographic information

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Volunteered geographic information (VGI) is the harnessing of tools to create, assemble, and disseminate geographic data provided voluntarily by individuals (Goodchild, 2007).[1] VGI is a special case of the larger Web phenomenon known as user-generated content.[2] Some examples of this phenomenon are WikiMapia, OpenStreetMap, and Google Map Maker. VGI can also be seen as an extension of critical and participatory approaches to geographic information systems.[3] VGI attracted concerns about data quality, and specifically about its credibility[4] and the possibility of vandalism.[5] These sites provide general base map information and allow users to create their own content by marking locations where various events occurred or certain features exist, but aren’t already shown on the base map.

One of the most important elements of VGI in contrast to standard UGC is the geographic element, and its relationship with collaborative mapping. The information volunteered by the individual is linked to a specific geographic region. While this is often taken to relate to elements of traditional cartography, VGI offers the possibility of including subjective, emotional, or other non-cartographic information.[6] Geo-referenced data produced within services such as Trip Advisor, Flickr, Twitter and Panoramio can be considered as VGI.

Criticism of the term[edit]

The term VGI has been criticized for poorly representing common variations in the data of OpenStreetMap and other sites: that some of the data is paid, in the case of CloudMade's ambassadors, or generated by another entity, as in US Census data.[7] Because it is gathered by individuals with no formal training, the quality and reliability of VGI is a topic of much debate.[8] Some methods of quality assurance have been tested, namely, the use of control data to verify VGI accuracy.[9]

Effects on users[edit]

While there is concern over the authority of the data, research has shown that VGI may provide benefits to the end user above and beyond that of traditional data sources,[10] in part due to its ability to collect and present data not collected or curated by traditional/ professional sources.[11][12][13] Additionally, VGI has been shown to provide positive emotional value to users, not only in functionality, but also in satisfaction, social connection, and ethics.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goodchild, M.F. (2007). "Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography". GeoJournal 69 (4): 211–221. doi:10.1007/s10708-007-9111-y. 
  2. ^ Goodchild, M.F. (2007). "Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography". GeoJournal 69 (4): 211–221. doi:10.1007/s10708-007-9111-y. 
  3. ^ Elwood, S. (2008). "Volunteered Geographic Information: Future Research Directions Motivated by Critical, Participatory, and Feminist GIS". GeoJournal 72 (3&4): 173–183. doi:10.1007/s10708-008-9186-0. 
  4. ^ Flanagin, A. J.; Metzger, M. J. (2008). "The credibility of volunteered geographic information". GeoJournal 72: 137–148. doi:10.1007/s10708-008-9188-y. 
  5. ^ Ballatore, A. (2014). "Defacing the map: Cartographic vandalism in the digital commons". The Cartographic Journal 51 (3): 214–224. doi:10.1179/1743277414Y.0000000085. 
  6. ^ Parker, C.J., 2014. The Fundamentals of Human Factors Design for Volunteered Geographic Information, London, UK: Springer.
  7. ^ Gorman, Sean. "Why VGI is the Wrong Acronym". Fortius One. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Keen, A., 2007. The Cult of the Amateur, London, UK: Nicholas Brealey.
  9. ^ Comber, A.; See, L.; Fritz, S.; Van der Velde, M.; Perger, C.; Foody, G. (2013). "Using Control Data to Determine the Reliability of Volunteered Geographic Information about Land Cover". International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 23: 37–48. doi:10.1016/j.jag.2012.11.002. 
  10. ^ Brown, M.; et al. (2012). "Usability of Geographic Information; Current Challenges and Future Directions". Applied Ergonomics 44 (6): 855–865. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2012.10.013. 
  11. ^ Parker, C.J.; et al. (2013). "Capturing Volunteered Information For Inclusive Service Design: Potential Benefits And Challenges". The Design Journal 16 (2): 197–218. doi:10.2752/175630613x13584367984947. 
  12. ^ Parker, C.J.; May, A.J.; Mitchell, V. (2012). "The Role Of VGI And PGI In Supporting Outdoor Activities". Applied Ergonomics 44 (6): 886–894. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2012.04.013. 
  13. ^ May, A.; et al. (2014). "Evaluating a concept design of a crowd-sourced "mashup" providing ease-of-access information for people with limited mobility". Transportation Research. Part C: Emerging Technologies 49 (1): 103–113. doi:10.1016/j.trc.2014.10.007. 
  14. ^ Parker, C.J., May, A.J. & Mitchell, V., 2010. An Exploration of Volunteered Geographic Information Stakeholders. In M. Haklay, J. Morley, & H. Rahemtulla, eds. Proceedings of the GIS Research UK 18th Annual Conference. University College London: UCL, pp. 137–142. Available at: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/6152.
  15. ^ Harding, J. et al., 2009. Usable geographic information – what does it mean to users? In Proceedings of the AGI GeoCommunity ’09 Conference. Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK: AGI GeoCommunity.