2013 Education Track, Volunteer Map Data Collection by James McAndrew


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The USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP) has sponsored various forms of volunteer map data collection projects over the past two decades. Citizen cartographers revised many structures during this period, but the program was suspended in 2008.
In recent years, new technologies and Internet services have made it easy to georeference many different types of information and share this information with others on map-based Internet platforms and social networking sites. This activity has been referred to as crowdsourcing, and the information produced has been called volunteered geographic information (VGI).
In light of this rapidly changing technical landscape, the increasing use of social software for citizen mapping, and the mandates for more transparency and citizen involvement in government, the USGS is expanding volunteer mapping program.
The future of The National Map Corps
Collaborative pilot projects in Colorado were recently used to test the concept of crowdsourcing. The volunteers' actions were accurate and exceeded USGS quality standards. The significant results of the Colorado pilot have led to a phased, nation-wide expansion of the crowd-sourcing/volunteer project.
The following states are operational as of April 2013: Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. By the end of 2013, all 50 states will be available for volunteer data collection.
For more information about the project and how to participate, go to The National Map Corps
web site at [ https://my.usgs.gov/confluence/display/nationalmapcorps/Home ].
Also contact us at NationalMapCorps@USGS.gov if you have questions or comments.

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2013 Education Track, Volunteer Map Data Collection by James McAndrew

  1. 1. {CENSORED} Uses of Volunteered Geographic Information Systems James McAndrew Department of Geography, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA
  2. 2. What is Volunteered Geographic Information?  Any user-generated content with a spatial component.  Private citizens with little formal qualifications in geography.  Systems have become prevalent online since 2005  Systems commonly have less restrictive licensing when compared to commercial models.  Less restrictive licensing can lead to more uses than traditional data sources.
  3. 3. Examples of VGI  OpenStreetMap  {CENSORED}  WikiMapia  Google Map Maker
  4. 4. Existing Literature  Dr. Michael Goodchild    Citizens as Sensors: The World of Volunteered Geography GeoJournal (2007) Dr. Daniel Sui & Dr. Michael Goodchild    Researching the Geocrowd: Volunteered Geographic Information and Geographic Research Annals of the AAG (2011) Dr. Muki Haklay  How Good is Volunteered Geographic Information? A Comparative Study of OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey Datasets.  Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design (2010)
  5. 5. What is OpenStreetMap?  “Wikipedia of Maps”  Allows users to create and distribute “free” geographic data for the world  Created as an alternative to expensive commercial maps and government maps (Such as the UK’s ordnance survey)  Started at University College London  Allows users to add points, lines, and polygons.  http://osm.org
  6. 6. OpenStreetMap Technologies  The OpenStreetMap website uses Ruby on Rails for its user management platform.  The backend database is PostgreSQL.  The database is not PostGIS  The database uses “key” : “value” relations which are indexed by a version number.  The default mapping system is called Potlatch2  There are many more ways to contribute to OpenStreetMap
  7. 7. OpenStreetMap Potlatch 2  Potlatch2 is a Flash based editor for OpenStreetMap.      User-friendly tagging with customizable presets A flexible undo/redo system WYSIWYG rendering Vector Background Layers Mac/Windows/Linux/Android
  8. 8. Tagging in OSM The OpenStreetMap system uses the “Key” : “Value” style of data tagging. Each Key / Value is also references by a Node ID and a Version.
  9. 9. OpenStreetMap Backend Consists of four projects:  “Rails Port”  The website itself, user management  Potlatch editors / iD editor  The editing interfaces  Tiles  A custom tile caching service that makes editing easier for users.  Tile Generation  Mapnik
  10. 10. OpenStreetMap Backend  “Rails Port” is build in Ruby on Rails and requires a few external packages       Ruby 1.9.3 RubyGems 1.3.1 Postgres 9.1+ (not PostGIS) Imagemagick Bundler Osmosis  PostGIS is used for rendering, but not for data collection
  11. 11. Research Design & Objectives  What are the technical and social issues involved with allowing information to be transferred between the {CENSORED} projects and the OpenStreetMap project?  Information added to the {CENSORED} database.  OpenStreetMap users do not have easy access to this information.  OpenStreetMap contains information from {CENSORED} sources, but it is no longer up to date.
  12. 12. Merit  Volunteered Geographic Information Systems have become popular with many users, but each system has its own set of users.  These users tend to duplicate effort instead of building off work in other databases.  These users also miss out on information in other databases because the information is not available through a system with which they are familiar.
  13. 13. Impact  If the Federal projects can share information with OpenStreetMap, it will lead to standard procedures that other small VGI systems can follow.  Data merging can becoming an important part in the retirement process of VGI systems.
  14. 14. Methods: Technical  Determining what needs to be done to merge the datasets  Both the {CENSORED} and OpenStreetMap use a similar database. USGS National Map Corps style tags OpenStreetMap style tags
  15. 15. Methods: Technical  The OpenStreetMap community offers several tools for manipulating their database.  Osmosis: Java tool for programmable access to the OpenStreetMap database.  MapRoulette: A system to distribute data errors to a large group of people for manual interpretation.  Errors to look for  Omission  Commission  Some errors can be fixed programmatically, but others will need to be put into a queue for a human to manually decide.
  16. 16. Methods: Social  OpenStreetMap currently has a large community following.  This community is weary of data imports, and wants to ensure that their standards for their areas are met.  Determining the key people in each area is important to ensuring that the data import will be successful.
  17. 17. Skills and Background  10+ years of professional computer programming and database experience.  Board Member of OpenStreetMap US Chapter 2011- 2013  Vice President 2012-2013
  18. 18. Conclusion  The goal is to document and overcome the issues with importing a dataset into the OpenStreetMap database.  This will require programming and manual effort.  It will require working with user groups for an importation that works within their constraints.  Once these issues are overcome, a final procedure will be made that can be used for future data imports.