The Action straddles the amateur and professional communities engaged in aspects of map production and evaluation. A key focus is on making use of the vast amounts of geographical information available. For example, remote sensing provides images for mapping at unparalleled rates but the ground reference data needed in map production and evaluation are difficult to acquire.

The rise of citizen sensors (e.g. volunteers contributing information from remote devices) provides immense potential to radically change mapping. The quality of citizen sensor data, however, is highly variable and activity is uncoordinated. A major internationally recognised mapping challenge is how to deal with the vast amounts of image data and large bank of uncoordinated citizen sensors in a way to allow accurate mapping.

The overall aim of the Action is to increase the value of volunteered geographic information (VGI) provided by citizen sensors for mapping applications, with a particular focus on map production and map evaluation. To do this the Action will

  • help coordinate the activities of citizen sensors with particular regard to VGI data collection and dissemination,
  • review the current status of VGI data in mapping, As well as clarifying the state-of-the-art, this activity will highlight strengths/opportunities of VGI data in addition to limitations/areas that need development for future research activity, and
  • define protocols to help guide the producers and users of VGI data.

The Action will lead to a series of outcomes with key deliverables including:

  1. State-of-the-art summary of VGI in mapping – focused on data quality, dissemination and current utility for mapping applications. This will form the basis of a major review paper in a peer reviewed journal.
  2. Enhanced coordination of VGI activity – outputs range from basic guidance notes on an internet site to directed sensing activities.
  3. Recommendations on how to influence the behaviour of citizen sensors and encourage collection of valuable VGI, summarized in popular/professional and academic papers.
  4. Protocols for enhanced data collection and description, disseminated via a series of suitable publications targeted to different audiences.
  5. Protocols for data storage and dissemination, disseminated by a range of publication routes.
  6. Survey of methods to address data quality issues in mapping, summarized in a series of academic papers.
  7. Documents outlining the best and good (acceptable) practices for VGI use in map production and evaluation, disseminated in a variety of ways targeted to specific audiences.
  8. An enriched community in which the role of volunteers is recognized and appreciated as well as an enrichment of the volunteers themselves through close integration with science.
  9. Expansion of the community engaged constructively in mapping, from individual members of the public to academic researchers; with an emphasis on developing young researchers.

Note the aim is often to define both best and good practices, recognising that volunteers are giving their time freely and may be able/willing to follow good/acceptable practices but not necessarily the best practices. In this way the Action seeks not to constrain volunteers but to enhance the potential value of their data as well as leaving room for unplanned, serendipitous outcomes that may arise from the flexibility provided.