GIS Implementation

November 25th, 2014

When institutions adopt a new technology there are bound to be issues associate with that technology’s implementation.  This paper described two instances where different institutions began using GIS as a decision-making aid.  Despite using an identical technology, the two government organizations had very different approaches to how to integrate their new tool.

The North County’s organization-wide adoption and promotion of the new tool sought to ensure all employees were fluent in the use of ArcInfo which attributed to the software’s success in this county.  Furthermore, the North County’s employees had a history of working with geospatial data making the new software an easy transition.  In the South County however, the software was only used by a very small group of computer scientists / analysts who were unfamiliar with geospatial data.

I think when adopting any new process or technology there has to be significant attention paid to how well an organization is structured to handle change.  In the North, analysts were use to changing technology regarding how geospatial data would be handled.  In the South, a rigid system overly reliant on one group of computer specialists resulted in a missed opportunity to have a staff team better trained in the handling of geographic data.

As this paper was written almost twenty years ago I would be interested in knowing how other organizations have implemented the use of GIS in more recent years.  I assume, though I could be incorrect, that as younger, more computer savvy people enter the workforce that barriers to the implementation of certain technologies will decrease.

GoOutside

G.I.S. Implementation and Society

November 25th, 2014

I found this article, Organizational context, social interpretation, and the implementation and consequences of geographic information systems, by Sahay and Robey, to be a fairly interesting read. I was first intrigued during the introductory sections of the paper when they discussed the theoretical foundations of Interpretations and Implementations (pg. 258). I was imagining the discussion pertaining to larger social and cultural groups, for example between Western and other cultures. Instead, the study focused on the implementation differences between counties, a much smaller scale difference. While now it seems logical, I wasn’t aware that there would have been such noticeable difference between two entities which I would have thought were homogeneous, especially in terms of implementing a new technology.

It would be interesting if the issues that the authors noticed at this scale (ex. Funding disparities between departments, lack of technical expertise and training) could also be ones that societies as a whole would face if they were examined at a societal level. For example, if a few educated individuals in a society possess the knowledge required for operating G.I.S., would that create conflict or have negative impacts on the progress of the society in general? If one has to pay for G.I.S. services, would that influence who uses the services and would certain groups get the proverbial short end of the stick? I think this would be an interesting avenue of research. I imagine this would be very difficult to study, however.

-Benny

GIS implementation

November 25th, 2014

In “Organizational Context, Social Interpretation, and the Implementation and Consequences of Geographic Information Systems”, Sahay & Robey (1996) analyse the implementation of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies in two unidentified North American counties. The result of this implementation was closely to each county’s context, specifically the “structure” and the “capability”.

In the North County, the “unified structure facilitated the implementation of GIS as a distributed system because the departments shared a common mission” (266). In the South County, because of the decentralized agencies structure, the Office of Computer Services controlled the GIS and worked on a contractual basis for the users in other departments. Moreover, the users in the North County included many geographers who were used to working with spatial data. This was not the case for the Computer Services personnel in the South County. The structure and capability of the North County allowed its GIS implementation to flourish, and caused South County to falter.

Because people’s backgrounds affect how they use GIS — “People with data processing backgrounds emphasized technical standards, controls, formats, and product appearance in terms of menus and screen layouts. […] Users were more interested in the capabilities of the system to support their needs” (271) — and GIS implementations have different results depending on the context, it seems that standards are especially important. Is it possible that the different counties could yield such different data that they would be incompatible?

Given that this article was written 18 years ago, I wonder how GIS implementation has changed. With the average person becoming more tech-savvy and commercial GIS package being more use-friendly, are GIS implementations easier to carry out? Do the same factors still affect the implementation?

-IMC

GIS implementation

November 24th, 2014

“Organizational Context, Social Interpretation, and the Implementation and Consequences of Geographic Information Systems” by Sahay & Robey (1996) provides a framework for understanding the process of GIS implementation in local governments. The comparative analysis identifies essential organizational characteristics needed for effective implementation, and reveals how the social construction of technology affects how it is subsequently integrated into an organization.
The implications of the study of GIS implementation for GIScience are multiple. Most notably, the implementation and diffusion of GIS in various organizations has enabled and sustained the development of GI technologies and GIScience. The emergence of sub-topics in GIScience such as geovisualization, location based services, ontologies and GIS clouds can be partially attributed to the the widespread use of GI systems. Moreover, the conceptual frameworks developed through the study of GIS implementation can be applied to evaluate the implementation of other GI technologies and innovations including, GIS cloud computing,  LBS, open data initiatives, metadata standards etc. The establishment of GIS has also facilitated interoperability between department of the same organization and enable inter-organizational spatial data sharing.
The study of GIS implementation invokes the debate that underpins this course: Is GIS a tool or a science? Does the study of GIS implementation, the study of the implementation of a tool, undermine GIscience? Or does the very study of GIS implementation secure its place as science?
I would argue that the dynamic nature of GIS implementation, and the fluid conceptualization of GIS, calls for the development of theories to better explicate the process, placing GIS implementation as topic within the field of GIScience. But that is up for discussion!

Fan_G

GIS privilege

November 24th, 2014

Sahay, S. & Robey, D. (1996) “Organizational Context, Social Interpretation, and the Implementation and Consequences of Geographic Information Systems”. Accounting, Management & Information Technology, 6(4): 255-282.

Sahay & Robey (1996) find that geographic information systems (GIS), as a social constructed technologies, are subject to diverse social interpretations. Moreover, they argue that GIS has a plurality of definitions, meanings, and applications due to the numerous groups that encounter the GIS technologies (255). To say that a GIS has been implemented is therefore much more than plugging in a computer and running an application.

The authors acknowledge that GISs are a unique case of relational information systems, corroborating the spatial is special argument. In the case study, Sahay & Robey discover that educational background affects the integration of GIS into the workplace. Formal education in geography—emphasizing a geospatial outlook on the world—created the fertile environment for GIS implementation to take hold. I would argue that early exposure to the “common language” of GIS users, “speaking in terms of latitude, longitude, geo-coding, and other geographical concepts” puts geographers at a distinct advantage (268). In contrast, the tech-savvy computer scientists of the South County were at a considerable disadvantage. One technician remarked that he had never worked with graphics before (272). This would definitely skew the conclusions of Sahay & Robey’s research. GIS privileges some groups above others.

This paper considers differences in GIS implementation at an organizational level, but it forgoes socioeconomic and cultural complexity. As this paper was written in 1996, I presume the global entrainment of GIS technologies would largely have been limited to the governments of developed countries. In a contemporary version of this paper I would like to see the transgression of the barrier between the developed world and the developing world. I suspect that economic and social factors will be more pronounced in developing countries and the risks of adoption will have greater repercussions.

-BCBD

Scarce influence of technology when implementing the technology

November 24th, 2014

In this article, Sahay and Robey designed an interpretive research method that enabled a comparative analysis between two neighboring county government organizations that were conveniently in the process of implementing GIS. Both intra and inter-site comparisons were designed. With the results of this study, the formulations of specific inferences in 3 general areas as following are engendered: “the relationship between structure and initiation, deployment and spread of knowledge; the relationship between capability and transition, deployment, and spread of knowledge; and organizational consequences of GIS”. Every set of inferences is used to shape general theoretical arguments concerning the implementation of information systems based on specific comparisons between these two sites.

The King’s (1983) analysis of centralized and decentralized computing supports the first set of inferences: the organization of computing resources is anchored in more fundamental questions of organizational power and control, and the concentration of computing resources in a single unit of an organization is likely to preserve the units’ power over the users of technology. But a distributed deployment of computing resources encourages the spread of knowledge empower the users, and therefore technological capabilities are more likely to expand and spread in an organization where new technology is configured in a distributed rather than a centralized manner. In the study, the organizational structure, that is associated with following aspects of implementation process: initiation, deployment and spread of knowledge, was considered as the major point of contrast among the 2 sites in question. The authors argue that a unified organizational structure enables a better cohesion among the social interpretations of new technology and the establishment of a single vision and therefore information is more widely shared in a unified organization than in a differentiated structure, which allow congruent technological frames of meaning to emerge. Also, the rapid knowledge spreading is being kept due to the deployment of the technology is likely to be restricted to one organizational unit. Therefore the study is consistent with King’s argument… and so on.

As written above, this article compares 2 organizations and their contrasts based on the social context and the process of implementation with pre-existing theories. I find this study very well structured and quite convincing, since the research method used is sensitive to the assumptions underlying social construction and tries to identify the relevant social groups and their technological frames and in addition, they have done an excellent job in explaining the organizational processes of each site in relation to their respective social context and then they point out specific contrasts by comparing them and forming their arguments on the solid grounds of the pre-determined theories.

Therefore, when they underline that technology itself must not be considered as a determinant of organizational impact, since the distinction of each context and therefore different consequences will be produced, based on the interactions of contextual processual elements, and that one must not assume that technology will be understood in the same way by different groups of people, I couldn’t do nothing more than nodding my exhausted head. In an overly simplified manner, it is like assuming that by handing out a set of Lego to children from different cultural and family backgrounds and expects them to come up with the same output by the end of the day. Some may play and create something, some may play but leave as pieces and perhaps some may not show any interest to it at all.

Coming back to the implementation of GIS, I guess one can draw a parallel with the comparison of viewing and using GIS technologies from the perspective of tech savvy generation versus aboriginal population that is often new to such technology and coming from distinct cultural backgrounds. Hence same technology may generate a completely different and /or unexpected consequence from its use, due to the social context/background alone. Therefore one cannot, or rather should not, blame the technology being used for an aftereffect, but rather re-investigate how it should have been approached to respective targeted population/culture.

ESRI

GIS Implementation: A Cautionary Tale

November 22nd, 2014

I have never doubted the potential of GIS as a problem solving tool, as I have explored GIScience as a science this semester the horizons of possibility within the discipline have only widened for me. Though I laud it as technology with much to contribute to society, science and business arenas – the silver lining crowns a dark grey cloud.

Using interpretive research methods to better understand the process of GIS implementation, Sahay and Robey draw from two North American case studies to compare and contrast the success and unfulfilled potential of GIS in the real world. The theoretical foundation laid out by the authors pointed to understanding a phenomenon, in our case GIS implementation, within a specific social context. Collecting data from extensive interviews of GIS users two prevailing inferences were drawn from the cases studied: the first that the organization structure of the receiving body has a grand influence on the effectiveness of GIS technology deployment, and the second that the capability of the institution adopting GIS to transition into the world of GIS is crucial, as one example illustrated, a lack of prior experience with spatial data analysis can prove to be disastrous.

It’s important to note that these two varied examples demonstrate that the needs for effective GIS implementations do not lie in technology or software in and of itself, rather in the people and management responsible for introducing this tool, where necessary. The authors through their research, effectively revealed that the unfulfilled potential of GIS implementation speaks more about the social context and mode of implementation than about the suitability of the tool itself. With the failed implementation, it was evident that the GIS implementation was more helpful in revealing the managerial flaws of the agency than actually providing the perceived intending service by adopting GIS.

Through this reading I have learned that while the introduction of new technologies comes with its consequences, putting human being in charge of things does too.

Othello

(Data About Data About Data) * n+1

November 18th, 2014

I cannot emphasize how important metadata is.

Without geospatial data, we would be without the very core of GIScience left with the burden of a heavy toolbox with no material to build with. Metadata, is popularly described as data about data, providing data users with the information they require in order first find the data they require, but also assess the fitness of use for their research goals. In a world where countless hours are invested in searching for the correct data, metadata is a hero – but not one without flaws.

Guptill introduces the subject of metadata well, unpacking for us the workings of metadata standardization. Yes, there is another layer. As the title of this post suggests, the categorization of the data itself is not sufficient, without standardization of metadata how does one compare data sources or place confidence in the terminology used to describe the data they collect? One of the key issues that this article raised in my mind are the methods required to reconcile different data and metadata standards drawn from different countries. There are over 70 territorial entities where English is an official language, 70 ways in which metadata could exist.

While my passion for metadata shines optimistic that its the answer to all of our data search woes, there exists a tension between the desire of a user for detailed metadata and the availability of resources for the data producer to create it. The cost of metadata production can be reduced, according to Guptill by advancements in metadata standardization.

I do really wonder what standards exist, if any, for volunteered geographic information. I would argue that it’s absence may invalidate, VGI as a legitimate geospatial data source.

- Othello

 

You Are Here

November 18th, 2014

In ‘A critical evaluation of location based services and their potential’, Raper et al. explore the current state of location based services (LBS) research, proposing a research agenda moving forward. Drawing from a robust list of publications the article ends with a table detailing a non-exhaustive list of topics of significance in the topic, almost a third of the items are categorized as urgent clearly indicating that this young field of research has a ways to go before finding its feet.

In LBS, location information and other data are used to create value-added consumer/user experiences – we live in and move through space making LBS a field full of potential.From the dizzying list of topics covered, my attention was drawn towards two in particular: the use of tracking in LBS and mobile cartography.

In tracking analysis the key objective is to use the inference of past travel behavior to allow for the prediction of real-time destinations, learning previous patterns of movement to inform estimations of future ones. With this powerful technology legal protection for users in terms of privacy is crucial. I was alarmed to encounter through this reading the concept of geoslavery, and work is required to explore this concept of location control. In terms of mobile cartography, the authors highlighted a need for adaptations of cartographic presentations to mobile screen displays. Although information can be provided via audio, geovisualization remains the central vehicle of communication for LBS devices.

When this article was first published, the first generation of the iPhone had just hit the market, I would be intrigued to learn of how this article would read given our current context. The iPhone 6 boasts a screen so large it struggles to fit in most decently sized pockets, a technological development that will propel the dialogue presented by Raper in a new direction – both in terms of mobile cartography and that of larger questions within the field of LBS. I do wonder though: are technological advances sufficient to address the legal issues surrounding LBS?

- Othello

Metadata and Politics

November 17th, 2014

Guptill, S. C. (1999) Metadata and data catalogues

Guptill (1999) provides a good overview of metadata and their application to GISystems. Guptill explains how data catalogues function via metadata and describes how domain specificity complicates the picture. Technical and technological applications of metadata are broken down to exemplify how metadata facilitate interoperability.

The concept of metadata standards is delivered and a number of landmark examples are introduced. Absent from this article, however, is the unraveling of the politics of metadata creation and standardization. FGDC, ISO, Dublin Core and others did not just happen across the perfect element set. Some were created independently and some were built off other’s templates. Additionally, metadata standards are generally skewed towards geomatic and technical elements across the board. The focus of this article on the technical and technological aspects of metadata speaks to lack of qualitative metadata.   Guptill does not showcase the negotiation process of creating a standard, different groups with varying interests come together to produce a standard – especially at higher levels of governance.

One of the chief ramifications of metadata on GIScience and beyond is interoperability. Crosswalks and other forms of (meta)data mediation will be critical to support these ever-expanding structures. This article presents an optimistic view on the future of metadata, predicting its future use as the bridge between domain specificity. Guptill notes that for such a system to work, description and vocabulary need to be formalized (684). There is no mention of how concretizing descriptions and vocabulary into a formalized language would constrain our understanding of the world and inevitably exclude perspectives.

Metadata and standards are inherently political.

-BCBD

Metadata is EVERYWHERE

November 17th, 2014

“Metadata and data catalogues” by S.C Guptill provides a comprehensive and clear overview of metadata. However, the level of this text is introductory. Issues associated with the definition metadata, its uses/ applications and the politics associated with the establishments of metadata standards are merely glossed over. Indeed, metadata is ubiquitous and its definition largely depends on what you consider data to be: one person’s metadata may be another person’s data. As opposed to viewing metadata and data as two discrete concepts, I propose they be viewed along a continuum, where the distinguishing line is often blurred. In a similar way, the application of metadata are only superficially described, limiting the discussion to catalogues and clearinghouses. Metadata is in fact necessary or associated to many aspect of GIScience including ontologies (what meaning are captured by the different metadata fields and how does that affect the creation of crosswalks, for example), Location based services,  which rely on metadata for App creation; geovisualization (metadata is needed to properly display or represent data (e.g  geographic projections, scales etc) and can also be displaced visually, allowing us to glean information and giving rise to new research questions), and the retrieval of Big Data and information of the Geoweb, to name but a few.

The political issues associated with who sets standards, who decides what is included in the standards and the power dynamics at play are also worth considering in greater detail.

Nevertheless, this article was a good read, offering a comprehensive review of metadata.

Fan_G

 

Location Based Services

November 17th, 2014

In his article “A critical evaluation of Location Based Services (LBS) and their potential” discusses the opportunities and challenges associated with LBS.

The article provided a detailed overview of the technical implications of LBS, but I felt that the discussion was a bit thin when it came to describing the social, political, cultural and economic implications of LBS. This is likely a reflection of the paucity of research rather than a deliberate oversight. Nevertheless such issues deserve greater consideration within the field of GIScience research as they echo some of the themes present  in other GIScience topics (e.g. VGI, PPGIS, Ontology, Metadata). Concerns of privacy, interoperability, passive or active release of personal geographic information, as well as understanding of place and space are only some of the issues that deserve greater attention.

LBS have the potential to alter how we engage with the the environment and people. They can be leveraged to increase the efficiency of our day to day life, but they also forever alter how we perceive, understand and navigate through our surroundings.While the ‘cool’ factor of this technology encourages wide spread adoption and approval of LBS, I think social discussion about its implications is warranted.

Fan_G

 

metadata

November 17th, 2014

The issues regarding metadata highlighted in Guptil’s article seem overwhelming to me.  With the rate at which new data is being created I find it hard to imagine there will be sufficient resources allocated to ensuring existing data is properly cited and categorized.  Furthermore, with so many different types of datasets it is hard to see how standards will be adopted by all data creators.  I found the idea of the “crosswalks” to be the most compelling possible solution to the growing number of metadata types.

This issue brings to mind the need for ontologies.  The author identifies better semantic interoperability as a possible path to aid in the solution of this problem.  I suppose one of the issues associated with the ontological approach is that it would create the need for data collectors to have common definitions or at least common views of the world around them.  As we have discussed in class, this would have serious ramifications for those who do not view the world with a “Western” lens.

GoOutside

Location-based Services

November 17th, 2014

I found this article, “A critical evaluation of location-based services and their potential” by Raper et al., to be an important one to read. I felt that they did a good job of covering all the important aspects required to form a base knowledge of L.B.S.’s. Since the article was the first article of the Journal of Location-based Services, their goal was to provide a survey of the key issues and background aspects of L.B.S.’s. After reading multiple other articles on this topic, it is clear they delivered a strong summary, especially the technological background. They could have improved, however, upon the implications to businesses and the relationship between them, consumers and Location-based services.

An important aspect that was lightly touched upon in this article was the potential privacy implications that arise with the development of tracking capabilities in L.B.S.’s. As was noted on page 16, an important purpose of tracking analysis is the extrapolation of past travel behavior as well as the prediction of future travel behavior. Further research should be conducted into the ways in which people’s location data is stored and what it can be used for after this data has been used for its original purpose. Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) the traditional maxim ‘you are what you buy’, a new one is being developed: ‘you are where you’ve been’. While I don’t agree that it is such a terrible prospect, caution should be taken to try and limit corporate/government intrusion into the lives of an unsuspecting public.

 

-Benny

 

Metadata

November 17th, 2014

I found this article, “Metadata and data catalogues” by Guptill, to be an interesting, if a bit tedious, read. Section 2.6, especially, was a little dry and technical, but overall the author made the text engaging. One idea that seemed interesting was where the author discussed the practical limits which faced metadata collection. At the time of writing, this limit was “often reached by the effort required to collect the information” (pg. 680). If there were technological advancements, perhaps in the field of spatial cyber-infrastructure, this limit could be surpassed and metadata collection might improve. It is also possible that if metadata was able to be associated with each piece of data or attribute, the end user of the metadata could be inundated with un-necessary noise and the process could be hindered. I would imagine a balance would need to be struck somewhere along the way.

Another theme I thought was important in this paper was that of standardization and interoperability. Since there seemed to be many different structures for metadata, as well as efforts to consolidate these disparate activities, having similar ontological approaches would probably be an important step in ensuring successful interoperability. If one metadata format defined their dataset information, for example, differently than another format did, it would be difficult to “create crosswalks”, as the author says (pg. 684), between metadata standards. Perhaps there have been efforts in subsequent years to standardize ontologies.

As an aside, reading this article reminded me of this xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/927/

-Benny

 

Laughing But Serious…

November 17th, 2014

This article from Raper et al. (2007) identifies main research issues within the field of Location Based Services (LBS), which includes sciences and technologies involving LBS, matter concerning LBS users and also the aspect regarding legal, social and ethical issues with LBS. Majority of the article covers distinct domains of sciences and technologies research areas connected to LBS and it is well established how wide range of subjects are associated with LBS. It was very rich and informative on that matter, but one can recognize some aspects being reappeared frequently on distinct subjects, such as visualization, users, ubiquity, etc. Unfortunately, specific differences were not elaborated and therefore it sounds repetitive, and difficult to differentiate if one was reading about whether GIScience or Spatial cognition, since it could have been either, and therefore it became tedious at some point.

 

As for the paragraphs where user issues are being discussed, it seems like many subjects were not being mentioned, such as VGI, managing geospatial data after its immediate use, etc. However, that was mainly because this article was written in 2007, when the Smartphone with GPS receiver capabilities and wireless broadband internet features were yet to be distributed among population as present date. On the other hand, it seemed like Raper et al. believed that it is only natural and obvious for the LBS to replace the traditional paper map, which was a controversial subject in GEOG 506: “LBS have to ‘substitute’ existing analogue approaches, e.g. the use of cheap, durable and easy-to-use paper maps for the most part…”. However, even today, lot of people still use paper maps despite the fact that they carry a smartphone that has a perfectly fine GPS receiver function, including myself. On the other hand, it is slowly but surely being replaced by less-analogue technologies for the majority of population who can afford it.

 

In the legal, social and ethical dimensions section, the authors consider the potential for surveillance and the exercise of power over individual movement as a negative effect, whereas the potential to guide people and the new social possibilities regarding LBS is positive implication. However, as we have discussed in class, this is just a mere perception from a particular culture or perhaps it is somewhat an individualistic view, rather than a representative perspective of a culture as a whole.

What can be defined as positive and/or negative?  It is all relative….again….sigh

ESRI

Location Based Services & Human Behaviour

November 17th, 2014

Raper et al. (2007) A critical evaluation of location based services and their potential

Raper et al. (2007) give an excellent overview of the technologies used by LBS. Most if not all of the sensor technologies underpinning the GIScience topics we have discussed in GEOG 506 were covered in this article. Raper et al. (2007) recognize that there are two domains in LBS: (1) user-related, and (2) technological – however, it is clear the latter is the major focus of LBS research.

Raper et al. (2007) list numerous examples of how users interact with LBS e.g user-friendliness, user-input, and user acceptance, however, the alteration of human behaviour seems to be major literature gap in the domain of LBS. This includes but can extend beyond the realm of legality and ethics. The effects of LBS on society may not be observable on an individual level, but I suspect there will be significant generational changes. Younger generations are expert micro-planners; we have become maximizers of our time. Instead of allotting say, 25 minutes to get to school, we can trim that down 17 minutes and 30 seconds (on average) taking into consideration daily weather, traffic conditions, different routes, and transportation schedules. In the future, this could be combined with unique user data to include average walking speed or stage of morning routine (based on regular weekday behaviours) in order to provide down-to-the-second departure time. Real-time LBS-equipped transportation will certainly have a massive impact on commuter behaviour in cities.

I hope the Journal of Location Based Services will become an accepted platform for these discussions too. It is crucial that the developers of LBS technologies are exposed to the ways their creations take on new function, meaning, and forms—both positive and negative— following their adoption by consumers.

It is my unfortunate duty to diagnose this article with acronymia – a scholarly disease that plagues esoteric fields such as GIScience and its numerous subfields. Prognosis includes: loss of readability, confusion, misunderstanding, and death. Acronymia is a disease with global distribution on the verge of becoming an epidemic. The primary vector of this disease is the journal article, although textbooks, tweets, and conference proceedings are known transmitters. There is no known cure for acronymia.

-BCBD

 

VGI vs PPGIS …. or just VGI

November 11th, 2014

I have to say, I do agree with some aspects of this article, “Is VGI participation? From vernal pools to video games”, but in majority, I disagree with it. In my understanding, PPGIS is a way for the public to be engaged in decision making by allowing them to incorporate local knowledge, integration and contextualization of complex spatial information and therefore active interactions of participant as well as empowerment of involved individuals and communities is possible, from Professor Sieber’s article: “Public Participation Geographic Information Systems: A Literature Review and Framework”. As for the VGI, its definition is known as: “the widespread engagement of large numbers of private citizens, often with little in the way of formal qualifications, in the creation of geographic information…I term this volunteered geographic information (VGI), a special case of the more general Web phenomenon of user-generated content…” from Goodchild’s article “Citizens as Sensors: The World of Volunteered Geography”. We should pay more attention to the part “more general Web phenomenon of user-generated content”. Therefore, it seems like all the convergence displayed in Tulloch’s article is because VGI encompass PPGIS and that VGI has slightly larger area to cover than PPGIS.

In addition, as mentioned above, PPGIS has a specific purpose and goal and often involve rather specific local population than general public, whereas VGI is more extensive. Furthermore, Tulloch also mentioned that: “One of the fundamental distinctions may turn out to be that VGI is more about applications and information while PPGIS seems more concerned with process and outcomes”, and doesn’t process and outcomes generated through applications and based on information? Perhaps I am oversimplifying this, but then again, it seems quite obvious in my perspective.

ESRI

VGI and PPGIS

November 11th, 2014

In “Is VGI participation? From vernal pools to video games” (2008), Tulloch attempts to unearth the relationship between Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS). Although he finds that they share some overlap (twenty to eighty percent?), they contrast in that “VGI is more about applications and information while PPGIS seems more concerned with process and outcomes” (170).

An interesting idea that comes out of this article is that VGI should be considered in policy/decision making: “while VGI might often fail to provide officially certified data that can support legally defensible policy decisions, ignored VGI sources could easily undermine an otherwise well-planned project” (168). This reminds me of a story about tweets being used to guide news stories, but not supplying enough background proof to be an actual source. Will tweets and VGI one day become admissible evidence in courtrooms? How is technology affecting formal practices?

The article also raises the question of “who is participating?” and if they really represent the “public”. However, I would argue that those who participate in person are not necessarily speaking for the general public. In most situations, only a small fraction of society will feel the urge to speak up, but perhaps VGI could have a positive effect on the proportion of people participating. I look forward to finding out how VGI and PPGIS have been used in marginalized communities.

-IMC