The participation loop: helping citizens to get in
“Cities, Technologies and Planning” The participation loop: Helping citizens to get in Jorge Gustavo Rocha firstname.lastname@example.org Universidade do Minho Portugal
Motivation ● Two contradictory facts: ● Public Participatory GIS* – people are NOT participating ● User Generated Contents – people ARE participating*PPGIS is an approach to getting the public more involved in the planning and decision making process
PPGIS problems● Low participation● The participation did not improve with more sophisticated interfaces● ...but VGI participation has never been so prolific!● We should further investigate how VGI connects and how it can improve PPGIS
VGI projects● Advantages ● Not regulated by public authorities, as PPGIS initiatives ● Make people more aware of their neighbourhood ● Make people more skilled to work with maps: layers, scales, formats, symbolism, interoperability issues, meaning, etc ● More aware of current positional technologies (using more functionalities of the hw and sw, p.e. Mobile phones) ● Large support community, able to share and improve knowledge and tools
VGI difficulties: the OSM case● Open Street Map ● Where to start? By doing what? Where to go further? ● Who is in charge? Who tells me what to do? ● One of the greatest OSM advantages is that it is completely open: no one regulates where, when or what should be mapped. ● Its also a disadvantage from less skilled communities ● After successful OSM parties, we noticed that some local communities are able to go on, while others didnt. ● Sometimes, the whole territory, all features, all details, are simple too much to deal with
Lessons learned from FOSS● Free Open Source Software (FOSS) projects can became quite large● FOSS communities are using the well known divide and conquer strategy to divide the project into smaller tasks● Besides tasks, many other issues are helping the FOSS community to successfully develop large projects: ● Bug track, ● Milestones, releases, ● Tickets, wish lists, etc.
Lessons learned from FOSS● Example:● Translation task in Ubuntu’s Launchpad, and how it is displayed to users.● The visualization clearly depicts the size of the task and how much has already been done.● To be able to address and solve specific tasks is more rewarding.● We have more feedback on how the project was before and after each contribution.
Calculate tasks in OSM● With several different techniques (ETL- GIS), we calculate well defined and assignable mapping tasks. ● OSM mappers can choose to pick up a task, from a list of many generated ones. ● The community has more feedback over what is already done and what they need to do. ● It is good for their involvement and motivation. ● You can always forget the task pool and do whatever you want.
Simple example● We start by grabbing all McDonald’s restaurants from the company’s website● Parsing techniques are used to extract the information about each restaurant, from the web pages● This information is compared with the restaurants already mapped in the OSM map● The difference is converted to mapping tasks, separated by municipality● So, one simple task is “map the 1 missing McDonald’s of the 4 existing in Braga”
How to do it: general approach1.find a suitable (either official or credible) source of information,2.get the full list of available features,3.capture all the necessary (or available) information about each feature and put it in a geospatial database,4.compare the captured data with OSM data using geographical units (either districts, municipalities, parish) that are suitable for a task,5.generating suitable visualization (tabular and geographic)
Additional Challenges● When a more complete map does not exist?● In many places or for some kinds of feature, there aren’t complete maps or other sources of information to serve as a basis for task computation● How do we calculate tasks, if we don’t know how many features are there in the real world?● For such cases, we need to estimate the number and location of the features.● Using such estimated values, we are able to create tasks for this class of problems.
Additional Challenges● What if the sources are not always correct and complete?● In fact, there is no problem at all. The source data is used to calculate tasks: not to be imported.● Only data personally captured by volunteers is added to the map.● Using the McDonald’s example: ● The were restaurants missing from the official website but already mapped in OSM. ● The average location difference between the OSM and McDonald’s website reported position was almost 200m. ● The maximum difference between the McDonald’s reported position and OSM mapped position was 540m.● Even with differences in the number of restaurants (by Nov. 2010, 7 existing restaurants were not reported on the official website), and positional errors, we were able to create tasks and suggest them to the community. ● In some cities, for example, the computed McDonald’s OSM coverage percentage was 133%.
Additional Challenges● How can we track the changes over time?● Over time some McDonald’s restaurants might close and new ones will appear. The same happens with ATM machines, recycling facilities, etc.● How can these changes be addressed by our task calculator? It is not easy.● Two approaches can be considered: ● The first one, is to periodically check the source website, and check if changes exist. Whenever changes occur, specific tasks can be re-computed and suggested to OSM users. ● The second approach can use the feature’s date and time of last editing, either to detect low activity or to check if the feature is still valid. – What low activity means? Everything is already mapped? The community is not updating the map?● Right now, we only have done some preliminary work to identify spots of low activity in OSM.● This will be a major challenge when OSM will be almost completed: contributions will be more related with features updates then new ones.
Conclusions● While PPGIS still has low participation, VGI is engaging users in the spatial realm● VGI makes people aware of their neighbourhood● Less skilled users needs some additional support to became autonomous in VGI● Case study: how to compute well defined and assignable mapping tasks is OSM ● The general approach ● Other additional approaches● The techniques used (mostly scripting) are available on the OSM Wiki, and can be reproduced.