14 July 2014 - 17 July 2014
University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK

Creating a Geospatial Knowledge World

The Centre for GeoInformatics at University of St Andrews is running a GEOCROWD supported “Creating a Geospatial Knowledge World” summer school in July 2014. This summer school is concerned with any aspect of geospatial information science and is focused on any aspect of user-contributed geospatial data.

Dr Steffen Fritz will be giving a keynote on July 15 at 9:30 on "Crowdsourcing, VGI and Gaming for Improving Land Cover". 

Reliable global land cover and cropland extent maps are essential for estimating and forecasting crop yield, in particular losses due to drought and production anomalies. Major questions surrounding energy futures and environmental change (EU and US biofuel target setting, determination of greenhouse gas emissions, REDD initiatives, and implications of climate change on crop production and productivity patterns) also require reliable information on the spatial distribution of natural vegetation, forests, cropland as well as crop types. Although a number of global land cover maps are available, this information is currently not accurate enough for many applications. 

Geo Wiki | www.geo-wiki.org

There is considerable potential in using crowdsourcing to improve land-use and land cover information, either via desktop or mobile platforms, which is the subject of the summer school seminar that will be given by Dr. Steffen Fritz. The seminar will start with an overview of current crowdsourcing efforts and serious games that have helped scientific research such as Galaxy Zoo and Fold-It. More specific geographical examples will then be presented, i.e. Open Street Map (OSM) and the Geo-Wiki project. Geo-Wiki is a visualization, crowdsourcing and validation tool for improving global land cover and land-use using Google Earth and Bing maps. Dr. Fritz will demonstrate Geo-Wiki (www.geo-wiki.org), which is comprised of several branches that are devoted to different types of land cover and land-use, e.g. improving cropland, urban extent, biomass characterization and land cover more generally. Dr. Fritz will then present an overview of the data collection campaigns that have been run using Geo-wiki, in which more than 250,000 samples of land cover and human impact have been compiled. Examples of where the data have been used in research will also be presented, e.g. in validating a map of land availability for biofuel production, and in the development of a global hybrid cropland map.  

An overview of other recent developments will then be provided. The first is the mobile application called Geo-Wiki Pictures for Windows, Android and iPhone. This app allows users to take pictures of the landscape and then classify the land cover or collect other thematic data such as crop type. The pictures can be viewed online via the Pictures Geo-Wiki branch and shared with friends. The second is the Cropland Capture game, which ran for 6 months from mid-November to mid-May 2014, in which more than 4.5 million sample points were collected on the presence of cropland. The results of the game will be presented including player performance and how the data will be used in the future for land cover calibration and validation.  

Dr Fritz will close the seminar with an outlook to future work, in particular the potential of crowdsourcing to collect in-situ land cover and land–use information from different communities such as via farmers and the general public who are interested in participating in citizen science.

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Last edited: 14 July 2014


Steffen Fritz

EOCS Center Head and ESM Acting Program Director

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 353

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313