Will You Volunteer?

Goodchild’s article does a great job of giving an overview of the history, components, and some of the uses of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). Though he does a great job of highlighting the many benefits to this huge source of data, he also acknowledges some of the issues that arise with dependency on this type of data.

The are several issues in particular that I believe affect the future of the field. First of all, standardization of data is an issue when dealing with volunteered information. Contributors may not know the correct way to upload and cite data, which in turn could affect the results. This issue has been addressed somewhat by the use of volunteers who monitor the data, as well as agencies that have outlined the way to standardize certain types of data. Another issue is the ability of certain user to undermine the collective effort. This issue in particular is ever more relevant as larger and larger databases are compiled. Although it is generally accepted that contributors are working together for the collective good, there is a possibility that some people, with ulterior motives, could undermine the collective effort.One example of this is when anonymous users tamper with Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia allows any user to edit the content of its pages. And while there are some volunteers who monitor pages for legitimacy, there is a possibility of people propagating false information.

Overall, VGI has the ability to be a very useful field for current and future collective projects. However, there are still some issues that need to be addressed before it can be relied upon for important policy decisions.

-Victor Manuel


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