What to Use VGI For?

The advent of VGI has brought on a whole set of new issues including but not limited to, the reliability, motivations and frequency of users.  For example, Goodchild outlines that VGI can be known as asserted information, as there is no source of checks and balances or peer-review to ensure that the data is “correct.”  While someone uploading data about a specific phenomenon in their locale may think they are an expert themselves, there is still the potential for errors.  There is also the issue of people purposely sabotaging projects, similar to the way in which people create viruses to spread via the internet.

Nonetheless, VGI has tremendous value, as Goodchild pointed out at the end of the paper.  Personally, I believe that VGI must be evaluated on a case by case basis.  It all depends on what the VGI is being used for and how accurate it needs to be.  With this must come a level of reservation for the person actually using the data.  Because many of us are familiar with Wikipedia, I will use that as an example.  I use Wikipedia when I am looking for general information on a topic that will not necessarily have determential effects if it is incorrect, for example the history of a rock band I like.  I will not, however, use Wikipedia as a source of in depth analysis on an academic subject that I will be writing a paper on, such as Location Based Services.  It is in this manner that I think VGI needs to be evaluated.  If the information being gathered needs to be of utmost accuracy, take the necessary steps to ensure that contributors have the necessary credentials.  If not, let VGI run wild and see what kind of results you get!




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