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Data democracy increased supply of geospatial information and expanded participatory processes in the production of data

December 07, 2016 by Max Craglia, Lea Shanley

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The global landscape in the supply, co-creation and use of geospatial data is changing very rapidly with new satellites, sensors and mobile devices reconfiguring the traditional lines of demand and supply and the number of actors involved. In this paper we chart some of these technology-led developments and then focus on the opportunities they have created for the increased participation of the public in generating and contributing information for a wide range of uses, scientific and non. Not all this information is open or geospatial, but sufficiently large portions of it are to make it one of the most significant phenomena of the last decade. In fact, we argue that while satellite and sensors have exponentially increased the volumes of geospatial information available, the participation of the public is transformative because it expands the range of participants and stakeholders in society using and producing geospatial information, with opportunities for more direct participation in science, politics and social action.