Towns Conquer – Gamification approach to validation of IGN National Toponyms database of Spain

 

Interaction Type public -> government
Trigger Event Funding opportunity from AGILE + EuroSDR project on “Crowdsourcing in National Mapping” 2013.
Domain Validation of a National Toponyms database
Organisation Universities involved (University of Nottingham UK and Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, Spain). Sponsorship provided by ESRI Europe.  Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) Spain
Actors Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) Spain, University of Nottingham UK and Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, Spain.
Data sets in use IGN National Toponyms database of Spain.
Process Validation of a toponyms database provided by the Spanish Instituto Geográfico Nacional with 136,454 entities which haven’t been validated yet.
Feedback Citizens played the game to gain points. These points were maintained in a league table format and when a citizen gained enough points they became the Mayor of that particular region. The more validations that the citizen provided for placenames the more points they gained.
Goal Volunteer validation of a national toponyms database. In Spain it has taken over 10 years to implement a model to standardize the nomenclature of municipalities, yet today there are still conflicts with the names of some places, especially in regions with two languages.
Side effects From a research point of view this project did highlight that gamification techniques could provide a very good platform for crowd-based update and management of important national databases.
Contact Point Dr. Joaquín Huerta

The Towns Conquer application was developed when the research team were awarded a small funding prize from a joint funding venture between the AGILE and EuroSDR organisations. This funding allowed the support of one person to work, in the university, in collaboration with a nominated National Mapping Agency. An Android based game was developed which was linked to a Web-Map Service in IGN Spain. A screenshot is shown below This allowed for IGN Spain to deliver the Toponyms database on suitable basemaps for the mobile application. Citizens signed up for the game (for free). There were some prizes at the end of the game (with a time limit on the number of months) for the citizens who had gained the most points (conquered the most placenames) during this time.

A screenshot from the Towns Conquer game
A screenshot from the Towns Conquer game

The aim of this project is the validation of a toponyms database provided by the Spanish Instituto Geográfico Nacional with 136,454 entities which haven’t been validated yet. The crowd is involved through mobile and web-based gamification techniques which are used to persuade users to contribute their amendments to the given toponyms database. The goal is for citizens to amend well known placenames while playing a game and using their local knowledge of their areas or other areas/regions in Spain. When the placenames are submitted to IGN via the Gamification software the amendments are checked by an IGN official before they are submitted and updated in the IGN database. Whilst there have been many research papers written over the years on techniques that the research community believe could be used to update databases within National Mapping Agencies this funding allowed the NMA to test out crowdsourcing and gamification as a means of updating a national database. In Spain it has taken over 10 years to implement a model to standardize the nomenclature of municipalities, yet today there are still conflicts with the names of some places, especially in regions with two languages.

From a research point of view this project did highlight that gamification techniques (when properly designed and thought out) could provide a very good platform from which bodies like IGN could involve the crowd in update and management of important national databases. From IGN Spain’s position gamification techniques to persuade users to contribute their amendments to the given toponyms database allows a novel approach of collecting data and provides the mechanism to motivate users to revise names in official databases. The project has now ended. A paper was presented at the AGILE 2013 conference in Belguim in the reference from Castellote et al (2013) below.

Main Lessons

  • The AGILE, EuroSDR collaboration on this “Crowdsourcing in National Mapping” funding scheme was vital. To develop the funding AGILE and EuroSDR held a workshop in 2012 which invited mapping agencies from Europe to come and discuss their needs, fears, hopes, and ideas about the use of Crowdsourcing in National Mapping. AGILE and EuroSDR co-funded the scheme and it was a prerequisite that successful projects worked with national mapping agencies (NMA) where the NMA were the driver behind the idea for the project. So rather than university researchers coming up with their ideas on how crowdsourcing could be used by NMAs for update and maintenance of National Mapping databases the NMAs took the lead.
  • IGN Spain had identified the possibility of using crowdsourcing but did not have the internal mechanisms available to implement a crowdsourcing project prototype. This is where creating the linkage between University research and the NMA was very beneficial.
  • Gamification turned what is a ‘boring task’ into something interesting for citizens. Not many citizens would be immediately interested in updating entries in the national toponyms database. The gamification aspect meant there there was a competitive aspect to it. There were some prizes for the contributors to contributed the most updates or corrections.
  • One of the biggest concerns which government have about crowdsourcing is data quality [Barron et al, 2014, Fowler et al, 2013, Gollan et al, 2012]. In this project the data does not just arrive from the gamification software directly into the toponyms database. An official in IGN checks the incoming data before insertion and update

References:

Barron, Christopher, Pascal Neis, and Alexander Zipf. 2014. “A Comprehensive Framework for Intrinsic OpenStreetMap Quality Analysis.” Transactions in GIS, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/tgis.12073.

Fowler, Amy, J. Duncan Whyatt, Gemma Davies, and Rebecca Ellis. 2013. “How Reliable Are Citizen-Derived Scientific Data? Assessing the Quality of Contrail Observations Made by the General Public.” Transactions in GIS 17 (4): 488–506. doi:10.1111/tgis.12034.

Gollan, John, Lisa Lobry de Bruyn, Nick Reid, and Lance Wilkie. 2012. “Can Volunteers Collect Data That Are Comparable to Professional Scientists? A Study of Variables Used in Monitoring the Outcomes of Ecosystem Rehabilitation.” Environmental Management 50 (5): 969–78. doi:10.1007/s00267-012-9924-4.

Castellote, Jesus, Joaquin Huerta, Javier Pescador, and Michael Brown. 2013. “Towns Conquer: A Gamified Application to Collect Geographical Names (vernacular Names/toponyms).” In Proceedings of AGILE 2013 In Leuven, Belgium. http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/2131/.

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