Mind the Map: The Impact of Culture and Economic Affluence on Crowd-Mapping Behaviours

December 07, 2016 by Dr. Licia Capra

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Crowd-mapping is a form of collaborative work that empowers citizens to collect and share geographic knowledge. OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a successful example of such paradigm, where the goal of building and maintaining an accurate global map of the changing world is being accomplished by means of local contributions made by over 1.2M citizens. While OSM has been subject to many country-specific studies, the relationship between national culture and economic affluence and users' participation has been so far unexplored. In this work, we systematically study the link between them: we characterise OSM users in terms of who they are, how they contribute, during what period of time, and across what geographic areas. We find strong correlations between these characteristics and national culture factors (e.g., power distance, individualism, pace of life, self expression), and well as Gross Domestic Product per capita. Based on these findings, we discuss design issues that developers of crowd-mapping services should consider to account for cross-cultural differences.