Volunteered Geographic Information for Disaster Management

Volunteered Geographic Information for Disaster Management

Doris Dransch (GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany), Kathrin Poser (Water Insight BV, The Netherlands), Joachim Fohringer (GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany) and Christian Lucas (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4707-7.ch021
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The amount of information generated and provided by citizens via the World Wide Web is constantly growing. Citizens share information, thoughts, and experiences in blogs and contribute information to web-based content sharing platforms, collaboratively created data bases that are freely usable by everybody. Disaster management as one component of urban planning to decrease a society’s vulnerability can benefit from information provided by citizens. This chapter gives an overview of the application of information provided by citizens in disaster management. It points out the potential of using such information for the various phases of disaster management. Three main challenges, which affect the usefulness of information supplied by citizens, are presented in more detail: data collection, localization and quality assessment. For each of these challenges, various approaches to address them are discussed.
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Internet technology supports citizens not only to access but also to provide information. Information created by citizens, is generally called user-generated content, or - more specifically - volunteered geographic information (VGI) if it is geographic in nature (Goodchild, 2007; Gouveia et al., 2004). Volunteered geographic information is provided by different media: text, images or video. VGI can be regarded as an extension of public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) which intend to empower communities by improved information access and participation (Ghose, 2001; Sieber, 2006). In contrast to PPGIS, which facilitates citizens’ participation, the VGI approach is predominately self-organized. Extensive research in citizen science and PPGIS has proved the usefulness of involving the public in environmental monitoring (e.g. Fore et al., 2001; Engel & Voshell, 2002) and spatial planning (e.g. Weiner & Harris, 2003; Sultana et al., 2008). Recent examples have also shown the usefulness of VGI for disaster management (Goodchild & Glennon, 2010; De Longueville et al., 2010). In order to make VGI a valuable additional information source for disaster management as one component of urban planning to decrease a society’s vulnerability its potential has to be examined systematically, and challenges and solutions have to be identified. This chapter gives an overview about the application of VGI in disaster management and presents existing approaches to tackle important challenges related to VGI.

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