Crowdsourcing, citizen science or volunteered geographic information? The current state of crowdsourced geographic information


Citizens are increasingly becoming an important source of geographic information, sometimes entering domains that had until recently been the exclusive realm of authoritative agencies. This activity has a very diverse character as it can, amongst other things, be active or passive, involve spatial or aspatial data and the data provided can be variable in terms of key attributes such as format, description and quality. Unsurprisingly, therefore, there are a variety of terms used to describe data arising from citizens. In this article, the expressions used to describe citizen sensing of geographic information are reviewed and their use over time explored, prior to categorizing them and highlighting key issues in the current state of the subject. The latter involved a review of 100 Internet sites with particular focus on their thematic topic, the nature of the data and issues such as incentives for contributors. This review suggests that most sites involve active rather than passive contribution, with citizens typically motivated by the desire to aid a worthy cause, often receiving little training. As such, this article provides a snapshot of the role of citizens in crowdsourcing geographic information and a guide to the current status of this rapidly emerging and evolving subject.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering > Engineering Systems and Supply Chain Management
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College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Sustainable environment research group
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Systems analytics research institute (SARI)
Additional Information: © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (
Uncontrolled Keywords: citizen science,crowdsourcing,mapping,volunteered geographic information,Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous),Computers in Earth Sciences,Geography, Planning and Development
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2024 07:23
Date Deposited: 31 May 2016 14:20
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
http://www.mdpi ... 220-9964/5/5/55 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Special issue
Published Date: 2016-05
Published Online Date: 2016-04-27
Accepted Date: 2016-04-18
Submitted Date: 2016-01-24
Authors: See, Linda
Mooney, Peter
Foody, Giles
Bastin, Lucy (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-1321-0800)
Comber, Alexis
Estima, Jacinto
Fritz, Steffen
Kerle, Norman
Jiang, Bin
Laakso, Mari
Liu, Hai Ying
Milčinski, Grega
Nikšieč, Matej
Painho, Marco
Pődör, Andrea
Olteanu-Raimond, Ana Maria
Rutzinger, Martin



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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