Crowdsourcing geographic information for disaster response: a research frontier

December 06, 2016 by Michael F. Goodchilda, J. Alan Glennona

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Geographic data and tools are essential in all aspects of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Geographic information created by amateur citizens, often known as volunteered geographic information, has recently provided an interesting alternative to traditional authoritative information from mapping agencies and corporations, and several recent papers have provided the beginnings of a literature on the more fundamental issues raised by this new source. Data quality is a major concern, since volunteered information is asserted and carries none of the assurances that lead to trust in officially created data. During emergencies time is the essence, and the risks associated with volunteered information are often outweighed by the benefits of its use. An example is discussed using the four wildfires that impacted the Santa Barbara area in 2007–2009, and lessons are drawn