Citizen-Driven Geographic Information Science

Citizen-Driven Geographic Information Science

Thomas J. Lampoltshammer (Danube University Krems, Austria) and Johannes Scholz (Graz University of Technology, Austria)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0962-2.ch011
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Abstract

This chapter shows how global environmental changes put society in front of new challenges, and how immediate and intense actions have to be undertaken in order to foster necessary progress in global sustainability research. The technological infrastructure has reached a status of ubiquitous computing and virtually unlimited data availability. Yet, the dynamic nature of the global environment makes continuous and in-situ monitoring challenging. Citizen-driven geographic information science can bridge this gap by building on inputs, observations, and the wisdom of the crowd, represented by the citizens themselves. This chapter argues for the important role of citizen science in geographic information science, presents its position in current research, and discusses future potential research streams, based on the participation by and collaboration with citizens. In particular, the chapter sheds light on three major pillars of the future of citizen-driven geographic information science, namely: big geo-data; education; and open science.
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Introduction

Global environmental changes put society in front of new challenges. According to Craglia et al. (2012), immediate and intense actions have to be undertaken in order to foster necessary progress in global sustainability research. According to them, five major research challenges have to be addressed:

  • 1.

    Observation Systems: To monitor environmental changes on all geographic scales (local, regional, and global)

  • 2.

    Forecasts: Have to be improved in order to react timely regarding future changing environmental conditions and related direct and indirect consequences

  • 3.

    Key Thresholds: Have to be identified in order to act properly on rapidly changing conditions or the occurrence of abrupt phenomena

  • 4.

    Impact Factors: Have to be identified in a transdisciplinary approach to cover institutional, economic, and behavioral aspects in order to reach global sustainability

  • 5.

    Encouraging Innovation: To boost the development and application of new technologies, as well as political and social progress; always paired with solid evaluation methods

In order to be able to realize solutions towards these presented challenges, new ways of digitalization and networking on a global scale throughout society have to be put in place. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore first presented such an overall concept back in 1998 titled “Digital Earth” (Gore, 1998). At the time of being presented, the concept was criticized as not being realistic due to problems such as interoperability issues of existing geographic information systems, data accessibility, or overall Internet connectivity and available bandwidth (Craglia et al., 2008). However, major improvements have been made since then and the currently available technological infrastructure is ready to take a big step forward towards making the vision once expressed a reality.

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