Volunteered Geographic Information

In recent years there has been a very rapid expansion in the number and size of Web sites devoted to gathering geographic information supplied on a voluntary basis by users. This phenomenon of volunteered geographic information (VGI) is part of a more general trend of user-generated content (UGC) facilitated by a suite of technologies loosely known as Web 2.0.

VGI complements the traditional components of spatial data infrastructure by drawing upon the collective observations and expertise of citizens in their everyday lives. The more than six billion intelligent humans living on the planet are all potential contributors of useful information about their immediate surroundings. The key to realizing this potential lies in developing mechanisms for acquiring, synthesizing, and redistributing that information, and assuring its quality.

VGI Pre-Conference at AAG 2011, Seattle

Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) – Research progress and new developments

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Monday, April 11, 2011

Sheraton Hotel, Aspen Room
Seattle, Washington

Participant Abstracts

Research on volunteered geographic information (VGI) has made substantial progress in recent years in understanding the content and characteristics of this new form of geographic and georeferenced information, developing appropriate methodologies for working with these data, and understanding their societal significance. Among other questions, geographers have made significant progress toward understanding what motivates citizens to contribute to such efforts, assessing the reliability of these data compared to conventionally-curated spatial data, and examining their implications for privacy. This pre-conference will bring together a small group of scholars to take stock of progress to date, identify ongoing research questions, and discuss new directions. We welcome a diverse set of topics, including (but not limited to) the following:

  •  The use of VGI in time-critical situations

  •  Ethical and legal issues emerging in collection, use, representation of VGI

  •  Innovative methods of analyzing, synthesizing, and visualizing VGI

  •  New concepts and theories promoted by VGI

  •  Data quality and credibility issues in VGI

  •  The role and impacts of VGI in activism and civic engagement

  •  The epistemological significance of VGI in science

  •  The role of social networks in facilitating VGI; and the role of VGI in the study of social networks

  •  The relationship between VGI, neogeography, crowdsourcing, citizen science, and related concepts

The meeting will be structured around 5-minute ‘lightning talks’ by all participants and full-group plenary discussion. We will accommodate as many interested participants as possible, but space is limited. Interested participants are also invited to contribute a book chapter for an edited volume on “Volunteered Geographic Information: Theories, methods, and applications” (tentative title, to be published by Springer).

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