Volunteered Drone Imagery (Johnson et al. 2017)

I found this article very interesting, especially in the context of my project topic for this course, VGI. This goes a step beyond OSM and other vector-based VGI platforms, and attempts to use raster and all the issues that lie within it. With varying scale, resolution, flight height, and the other plethora of drone attributes embedded in drone imagery metadata, incorporating data from different instruments and temporal scales will be a headache to say the least (if it is even possible). In this sense, I feel cyberGIS could be a useful consideration for this topic, as there will be no doubt many different software and hardware attributes to standardize in such a dataset.

Furthermore, I’m still unsure if this platform would be reducing the digital and financial divide in GIS by providing more orthorectified aerial imagery (expensive to come by in many cases), or whether it exacerbates it by assuming a wide contributor base even though drones are not very common items, and neither are their accompanying software and knowledge on complicated open source SDKs. However, this was true for GPS units before the cell-phone era, and the near future could result in drones becoming common household items for various tasks, in which case a drone OSM would be very feasible if data collection and stitching of various different images from different sources is resolved.

Another question that came to mind was “which photos get displayed / are treated as more reliable?”. The fundamental questions of VGI stay true in this case, as which image would be selected if there were two identical images at the same scale/location provided by different users? Would user contribution history, drone model, temporally recent, or overall quality of the image (i.e. haze/smoke prevalence) be treated equally in selecting/displaying appropriate drone imagery on this open drone map?

I’m sure these issues will be answered in a trial and error basis at first, and hopefully we will be using an open drone map soon, as this topic is very exciting. I’d also like to add that the repurposing of military equipment, I’m extremely for and hope the military truly isn’t a sink for money after wars, raises the question of if contributions from a military drone would just replace user contributions as an ‘authoritative’ government contributor on this platform, as this sometimes occurs in OSM. In my opinion this goes against the purpose of an open map, though could belong on a different platform.


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