Blog post authored by Claus Rinner and Victoria Fast
In response to a recent lab assignment in GEO441 “Geographic information Science”, 49 second-year Geographic Analysis students selected a crowdmapping application and actively contributed valuable geographic information.
The most popular choice was the global OpenStreetMap initiative (http://www.openstreetmap.org). From updating the name and hours of their favourite restaurant or adding their local bank to a plaza, to identifying community gardens, adding a newly built hospital or geocoding new condos, the students used their local knowledge of the GTA to update and expand the freely accessible OpenStreetMap dataset.
For example, second-year Geographic Analysis student Stephanie Dizonno added a restaurant, George’s Pizza, to a set of businesses already represented along Toronto’s Dundas Street East.
Some of the more unusual edits were made by GEO441 student Kyle Smith, who is a recreational pilot. Kyle corrected and added key features to a local airport, such as a taxiway, the airport restaurant, and the apron, which we learned is the paved area used for aircraft parking. An essential part of his contribution was to update “crucial attribute data about the airport’s characteristics using the Canadian Flight Supplement,” writes Kyle.
In addition to OpenStreetMap, other students elected to contribute to Wikimapia, Cropland Capture, Night Cities, and the David Rumsey Map Collection. For example, instead of the point, line, polygon, and/or attribute data added to OpenStreetMap, the Cropland Capture online game (http://www.geo-wiki.org/games/croplandcapture/) has ‘players’ indicate whether or not a given satellite image includes agricultural land. Mooez Munshi highlights the relevance of his contribution: “The geographic data collected will help in building a map that shows all of the world’s cropland.”
Geographic Analysis student Daniel Bocknek elected to geographically reference a 100-year old map from the David Rumsey Map Collection (http://www.davidrumsey.com/view/georeferencer) showing the Aberfoyle area in Scotland. After identifying at least three control points on both the historic map and a contemporary basemap such as OpenStreetMap or Google Maps, the historic map is automatically geo-referenced and can be integrated with other GIS data as shown in Daniel’s screenshot above.
A similar approach is used by the Night Cities application (http://crowdcrafting.org/app/nightcitiesiss/) to geo-locate photographs of world cities taken at night by astronauts on board the ISS. In his GEO441 assignment, Navdeep Salooja explains that this project involves “citizen scientists”, like himself, in research about global night-time light pollution.
Overall, the 49 Ryerson students contributed important bits (and bytes) to the growing body of volunteered geographic information, while experiencing the broad applicability of geographic knowledge and principles of geographic information science to real-world issues.