Citizens as Database: Conscious Ubiquity in Data Collection
Crowd sourcing , citzens as sensors , user-generated content [3,4], or volunteered geographic information  describe a relatively recent phenomenon that points to dramatic changes in our information economy. Users of a system, who often are not trained in the matter at hand, contribute data that they collected without a central authority managing or supervising the data collection process. The individual approaches vary and cover a spectrum from conscious user actions (‘volunteered’) to passive modes (‘citizens as sensors’). Volunteered user-generated content is often used to replace existing commercial or authoritative datasets, for example, Wikipedia as an open encyclopaedia, or OpenStreetMap as an open topographic dataset of the world. Other volunteered content exploits the rapid update cycles of such mechanisms to provide improved services. For example, fixmystreet.com reports damages related to streets; Google, TomTom and other dataset providers encourage their users to report updates of their spatial data. In some cases, the database itself is the service; for example, Flickr allows users to upload and share photos. At the passive end of the spectrum, data mining methods can be used to further elicit hidden information out of the data. Researchers identified, for example, landmarks defining a town from Flickr photo collections , and commercial services track anonymized mobile phone locations to estimate traffic flow and enable real-time route planning.
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