Volunteered Geographic Information

Workshop on Volunteered Geographic Information, December 13-14, 2007

Project partnersIn the past few years a flood of new web services and other digital sources have emerged that can potentially provide rich, abundant, and timely flows of geographic and geo-referenced information. Collectively they might be termed volunteered sources. They include geotagged entries in Wikipedia, the more specialized place descriptions accumulating in Wikimapia, sites such as OpenStreetMap that support volunteer efforts to create public-domain geospatial data layers, the geotagged photographs of Flickr, and mashups with Google Earth and Google Maps. It is now possible to find out an enormous amount about the geographic domain from such sources, provided they can be synthesized, verified, integrated, and distributed. Such sources have earlier precursors in citizen science, as exemplified by the Christmas Bird Count or Project GLOBE.

A specialist meeting was held at the Upham Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA on December 13-14, organized under the auspices of NCGIA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Army Research Office and The Vespucci Initiative. 44 participants from the academic, industrial, and governmental sectors attended.

A number of fundamental questions were examined at this meeting, including:

  • What motivates citizens to provide such information in the public domain, and what factors govern/predict its validity?
  • What methods might be used to validate such information, and to attach appropriate metadata to it?
  • Can VGI be framed within the larger domain of sensor networks, in which inert and static sensors are replaced by, or combined with, intelligent and mobile humans?
  • What limitations are imposed on VGI by differential access to broadband Internet, mobile phones, and other communication technologies, and by concerns over privacy?

Michael F. Goodchild, UCSB
Rajan Gupta, LANL

Meeting Products


Participant List and Position Papers

Project Partners

Los Alamos National Laboratory; Vespucci Institute; Army Research Office; NCGIA at University of California, Santa Barbara

  Project Partners