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Unformatted text preview: Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography Michael F. Goodchild Published online: 20 November 2007 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007 Abstract In recent months there has been an explosion of interest in using the Web to create, assemble, and disseminate geographic information provided voluntarily by individuals. Sites such as Wikimapia and OpenStreetMap are empowering citizens to create a global patchwork of geographic information, while Google Earth and other virtual globes are encouraging volunteers to develop inter- esting applications using their own data. I review this phenomenon, and examine associated issues: what drives people to do this, how accurate are the results, will they threaten individual privacy, and how can they augment more conventional sources? I compare this new phenomenon to more traditional citizen science and the role of the amateur in geographic observation. Keywords Geographic information Á Web 2.0 Á Virtual globe Á Privacy Á Citizen science Introduction In 1507 in St-Die ´-des-Vosges, Martin Waldseemu ¨ller drew an outline of a new continent and labeled it America (Fig. 1 ). It appears that he was influenced by new books being circulated in Europe at the time, and particularly by the Soderini Letter and its purported author Amerigo Vespucci, and the latter’s claims to the continent’s discovery. Although Waldseemu ¨ller withdrew the name on a later map, and although many scholars and a new biography by Felipe Ferna ´ndez-Armesto ( 2006 ) cast doubt on the authen- ticity of the Letter, the feminine form of Vespucci’s first name stuck, and was eventually adopted as the authoritative name of not one but two continents. By today’s standards this act of naming by an obscure cartographer would attract little or no attention. Modern naming in developed countries is closely regulated by a hierarchy of committees that in the U.S. extend from the local to the national level (Monmonier 2006 ). The Board on Geographic Names was established in 1890 for the purpose of standard- izing the use of names within the federal government, and thus within the national mapping agencies. In English the term gazetteer , the common term for a placename index, is itself rooted in official authority, and renaming of geographic features requires a lengthy process of review, and is virtually impossible except in special circumstances. Geographic naming has been centralized and standardized, and assigns no role to obscure individuals like Waldseemu ¨ller, who M. F. Goodchild National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060, USA M. F. Goodchild ( & ) Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060, USA e-mail: [email protected] 123 GeoJournal (2007) 69:211–221 DOI 10.1007/s10708-007-9111-y would certainly be amazed to learn that his map was recently acquired by the U.S. Library of Congress forrecently acquired by the U....
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- Spring '11
- Geography, Google Earth, Geographic information system, VGI