Understanding the Roles of Communities in Volunteered Geographic Information Projects

Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


As a society we are now more connected than ever before. Citizens interact with each other and form virtual communities based on a common interest or being involved in certain cultural, political, intellectual, or other issues. Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is generated when citizens annotate content from social media and smart devices. OpenStreetMap is a famous example of a VGI project with a very large community of contributors. This chapter examines this community and investigates the types of contributors and interactions amongst members of OSM. Our results show that there are very small groups of individuals creating and editing over 85 % of all OSM objects in three case-study cities. Editing and contribution behaviour is mostly steady and consistent over time except during months where OSM ‘mapping parties’ occur or when freely available spatial data is bulk imported into OSM. The paper also provides results of analysis into the social interaction between contributors to OSM where we show that a very small number of contributors are actively editing and maintaining the data submitted by other contributors. This indicates that most contributors work exclusively on their own data and rarely edit the work of others. Overall this paper will be of interest to LBS practitioners considering using OSM as a source of spatial data for LBS applications.


VGI OpenStreetMap Virtual communities Social interaction Networks 



Dr. Peter Mooney is a research fellow at the Department of Computer Science NUI Maynooth and he is funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency STRIVE programme (grant 2008-FS-DM-14-S4). Dr. Padraig Corcoran is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Computer Science and Informatics at UCD. He is funded by IRCSET under the EMBARK initiative.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceNational University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM)Co. KildareIreland
  2. 2.School of Computer Science and InformaticsUniversity College Dublin (UCD)Dublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceNational University of Ireland MaynoothMaynoothIreland

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