Current Themes in Volunteered Geographic Information

Colin J. Ferster, Trisalyn Nelson, Colin Robertson, Rob Feick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Volunteered geographic information (VGI) is the use of digital tools to collect, analyze, and share geographic information that was provided by individuals. Recent advances in digital communication tools and applications have led to unprecedented advances for VGI. Because official credentials are not required, VGI can include the experiences and perspectives of many people, respond rapidly to local needs, and be more spatially and temporally extensive than traditional approaches. VGI encompasses a wide range of activities, from simple and possibly unintentional actions, such as georeferencing messages or pictures shared on the Internet, to the intentional involvement of volunteers in scientific research. The motivations of volunteers and researchers for these activities are wide and ranging and relate to the products that are generated. This article focuses on intentional efforts by geographers to collect VGI. Two main barriers to adoption of VGI for decision making are concerns about data quality and incomplete representation. Strategies to address these concerns can lead to new discoveries and improved decision making in governance. In this article we introduce VGI, discuss theoretical developments, and relate them to three recent experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGis Applications for Socio-Economics and Humanity
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780128046609
ISBN (Print)9780128047934
StatePublished - Jul 21 2017


  • Active transportation
  • Citizen science
  • Climate change
  • Cycling
  • Data quality
  • Outdoor skating
  • Social media
  • Wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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