The acceptance of volunteered geographic information (VGI – after Goodchild 2007) as a valued and useful source of information for governments at all levels is growing. While the research demonstrate that for many tasks VGI is accurate and reliable enough when compared to official or government produced data sets, the progression towards their adoption and wider use is slow. It is likely the technical, economic and professional standing concerns contribute to the rate of change.
Much of the work undertaken within VGI is closely related to the Citizen Science, the scientific work that comes from the public either in collaboration or under the direction of professional scientists (Silvertown 2009). The term citizen science entered the English Oxford dictionary only recently in June 2014 and is directly linked to participatory research and more specifically to participatory mapping where “non-professional scientists voluntarily participate in data manipulation for scientific projects”, as Cohn (2008) and Silvertown (2009) referred to it. Both VGI and Citizen Science are extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving fields, while their intertwining and close relationship, referred to as geographic citizen science (Haklay 2013), is gaining ground in many fronts.
As the World Bank OpenDRI initiative recognised, to build resilient societies, policy-makers and the public must have access to the right data and information to inform good decisions — such as where and how to build safer schools, how to help farmers prepare for a drought, and how to protect coastal cities against future climate impacts. Sharing data and creating open systems promotes transparency, accountability, and ensures a wide range of actors are able to participate in the challenge of building resilience. Within this context, VGI has a role to play and arguably, it will be impossible to achieve the goals without active involvement of local people in data collection and maintenance.
The aim of the project is to strengthen governmental projects that incorporate voluntary and crowdsourced data collection (henceforth VGI) and to provide information that can be used to support wider adoption of VGI. This will be done through compiling and distributing lessons learned and successful models from existing efforts by governments at different sector and scale to engage with these communities.
Its main focus is not be focused on the application of open data that is streaming from governmental bodies to the public. In fact, there are a plenty of examples of commercial and civic society of such use (we will use the notation government→public for such cases). The same is true, to a large extent, to VGI that is provided by the public to government authorities – as this mode has a long history predating the web, e.g. calling to report a problem at a location (we will use the notation public→government). We see the core of the project as the focus on cases where we can demonstrate a synergy between government and citizens or civic society organisations – here again, the collaboration with commercial bodies has a long history. By synergy we mean clear use of either contributed information by government authority to make decisions and actions (as in using OpenStreetMap data for disaster preparedness) these case will be noted as government→public→government).
The study explores different aspects of government use of geographic information, as in maintenance of public space (streets, public building and parks), education, health, tourism and civil safety. The study includes a set of case studies with a common structure.
In the past three years since the publication of the first report, further changes occur in the application of crowdsourced geographical information, and these are at the basis of this proposal to update the report. The Research Team has already started to extend the current project.
Apart of the cases analysed in the previous report, VGI continues to be central in many authoritative and governmental initiatives. The status of some case studies that formed the basis of previous research has been altered since 2014 due to their dynamic nature and thus, creating the need for updates and amendments to what has previously been recorded. Existing case studies will be updated and New ones will be added soon. A new page has been added for this purpose.
The first case studies that have been updated can be found below: