Identifying success factors in crowdsourced geographic information use in government


The role of volunteered geographic information (VGI) as a valued and useful source of information is growing at all levels of government. Put simply, VGI is “crowdsourced” geographic information provided by a wide range of participants with varying levels of education, knowledge and skills. While extensive research demonstrates the reliability and accuracy of VGI compared to official or government produced datasets, progression towards their adoption and wider use has yet to achieve its full potential. What this research does provide is a range of mechanisms for ensuring that crowdsourced information is fit for purpose. Therefore, concerns about data quality are no longer a reason for the lack of adoption of VGI. However, organizational practices, regulations and legal issues are more difficult challenges.

The aim of this updated report is to review governmental projects that incorporate VGI and provide information that can be used to support its wider adoption of VGI. To this end, the report compiles and summarises lessons learned and successful models from government projects in different sectors and at different levels. The research presented in this report was motivated by the following interrelated issues:

  • Sources of VGI data such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) are increasingly important across a range of thematic areas and user communities.
  • The quality and consistency of VGI data have been assessed by a range of studies and found suited to many tasks. Therefore, concerns about these issues should not prevent the use of VGI as a valuable source of data.
  • Managing VGI projects and interacting with VGI communities is a different and potentially more complex relationship than governments have had with traditional sellers and resellers of geographical information systems (GIS) data.
  • Governments have begun engaging with VGI communities in different ways and there is much to learn from these experiences.

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