How grandmas can now map the world!

While the name of our lab is “Marine Geomatics Research Lab”, a lot of our activities are not related to the marine world. The second most important research focus from our group is looking at assessing and improving the quality of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). This term coined by Michael Goodchild refers to the “the widespread engagement of large numbers of private citizens, often with little in the way of formal qualifications, in the creation of geographic information.” In other terms, VGI is how geographic information can now be gathered by anyone, even by people that have never eared about words like projections, geoid or georeferencing!

While crowdsourcing of geographic information has led to important changes, issues related to the quality of this information remain. This is why our team works on different aspects to assess and improve the quality of VGI. Recently, Dr Arnaud Vandecasteele, post-doctoral fellow in our group, gave a talk on this subject, presenting a new tool he developed to help contributors during the editing process. His presentation is available online and you are encouraged to leave a comment to share your point of view.

International workshop on spatial data quality

The final workshop of the 4-year GEOIDE project looking at law, ethics and quality issues related to geospatial data took place in Quebec City on May 18th, right after the GSDI 13 conference. The “International workshop on geospatial data quality – Legal, ethical and technical aspects“, co-organized by Marc Gervais, Tania Roy and Rodolphe Devillers, has involved about 50 people from a number of countries (e.g. Canada, USA, The Netherlands, UK, Belgium, France, Australia, Poland) and sectors (academia, industry and government). The workshop started by a keynote address from Prof Yvan Bédard, discussing the need for geospatial data producer to share their data in a more ethical manner, and encouraging academics to play a role in improving the situation. A number of speakers presented various interesting perspectives on the topic. A new code of ethics for 3D spatial data was officially released during the day, resulting from a consultation between various Canadian stakeholders. The day has ended with a panel discussion on legal and ethical questions related to Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). The panel discussion, facilitated by Roger Longhorn, has involved Profs David Coleman, Teresa Scassa, Michael Goodchild, and Harlan Onsrud and led to very interesting discussions and perspectives. It was a very interesting day and presentations will soon be made available on a Website (to be announced).

VGI workshop @GIScience’12

We are co-organizing a workshop on data quality/credibility and volunteered geographic information (VGI) at the next GIScience conference.

Title: Role of Volunteer Geographic Information in Advancing Science: Quality and Credibility

Date and venue: September 18th 2012, Ohio State University, USA (GIScience 2012 conference)

Details: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/gist/workshops/2012/index.shtml

Organizers: Budhendra Bhaduri (bhaduribl@ornl.gov); Rodolphe Devillers (rdeville@mun.ca); Muki Haklay (m.haklay@ucl.ac.uk); and Michael Goodchild (good@geog.ucsb.edu)

Synopsis: Recent advancements in geospatial and cyber technologies, combined with a population that is well informed and interested in global issues, have cultivated an environment in which scientific research can potentially benefit significantly from the enormous volume of data that can be provided by citizens through their offering of volunteered geographic information (VGI).  Social networks also provide a vast volume of VGI that can include observations (e.g. vegetation, critical infrastructures), measurements (e.g. temperature), and even personal perspectives and experiences in the form of images, videos, and text.  However, the value of VGI is still largely limited to satisfying the intellectual curiosity of the common public.  The critical challenge that faces the research and operational communities is to assess the quality of VGI by understanding and assessing its authenticity, validity, and uncertainty.  Determining the most appropriate sources of data, promoting the involvement of those sources, acquiring accurate and useful information, assessing and communicating the accuracy of the data, and ultimately connecting these data with scientific research are key issues that need to be addressed in this context.