Citizens as Database: Conscious Ubiquity in Data Collection

  • Kai-Florian Richter
  • Stephan Winter
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6849)


Crowd sourcing [1], citzens as sensors [2], user-generated content [3,4], or volunteered geographic information [5] 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, 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 [6], and commercial services track anonymized mobile phone locations to estimate traffic flow and enable real-time route planning.


Semantic Information Pervasive Computing Data Mining Method Share Photo Smart Mobile Device 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Surowiecki, J.: The Wisdom of Crowds. Doubleday, New York (2004)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Goodchild, M.: Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography. Geo. Journal 69(4), 211–221 (2007)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Krumm, J., Davies, N., Narayanaswami, C.: User-generated content. Pervasive Computing 7(4), 10–11 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Haklay, M., Weber, P.: OpenStreetMap: User-generated street maps. Pervasive Computing 7(4), 12–18 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Elwood, S.: Volunteered geographic information: Key questions, concepts and methods to guide emerging research and practice. GeoJournal 72(3-4), 133–135 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Crandall, D.J., Backstrom, L., Huttenlocher, D., Kleinberg, J.: Mapping the world’s photos. In: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on World Wide Web, pp. 761–770. ACM, New York (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shapiro, C., Varian, H.R.: Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Harvard Business Press, Boston (1998)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Haklay, M.: How good is volunteered geographical information? A comparative study of OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey datasets. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 37(4), 682–703 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Benkler, Y.: The Wealth of Networks. Yale University Press, New Haven (2006)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bilandzic, M., Foth, M., De Luca, A.: Cityflocks: designing social navigation for urban mobile information systems. In: DIS 2008: Proceedings of the 7th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, pp. 174–183. ACM, New York (2008)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lynch, K.: The Image of the City. The MIT Press, Cambridge (1960)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Winter, S., Wu, Y.: Intelligent spatial communication. In: Navratil, G. (ed.) Research Trends in Geographic Information Science, pp. 235–250. Springer, Berlin (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Weiser, M., Brown, J.S.: The coming age of calm technology. In: Denning, P.J., Metcalfe, R.M. (eds.) Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing. Springer, Berlin (1997)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai-Florian Richter
    • 1
  • Stephan Winter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Infrastructure EngineeringThe University of MelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations