Citizen Science and Volunteered Geographic Information: Overview and Typology of Participation



Within volunteered geographic information (VGI), citizen science stands out as a class of activities that require special attention and analysis. Citizen science is likely to be the longest running of VGI activities, with some projects showing continuous effort over a century. In addition, many projects are characterised by a genuine element of volunteering and contribution of information for the benefit of human knowledge and science. They are also tasks where data quality and uncertainty come to the fore when evaluating the validity of the results. This chapter provides an overview of citizen science in the context of VGI – hence the focus on geographic citizen science. This chapter highlights the historical context of citizen science and its more recent incarnation. It also covers some of the cultural and conceptual challenges that citizen science faces and the resulting limitation on the level of engagement. By drawing parallels with the Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) literature, the chapter offers a framework for participation in citizen science and concludes with the suggestion that a more participatory mode of citizen science is possible.


Geographic Information System Citizen Science Global Position System Receiver Volunteer Geographic Information Volunteer Computing 
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.



This chapter was written with the support of the ‘Extreme’ Citizen Science – ExCiteS grant, funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), EPSRC reference EP/I025278/1 and the EveryAware project, funded by the EC FP7. Special thanks go to the participants of the VGI workshops in GIScience 2010, AAG 2011, Vespucci Summer Institute 2011 and members of the ExCiteS group for their comments and questions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic EngineeringUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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