This article defines what Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is, and shows examples of how it is being used in the world today.
What is VGI?
VGI is data or information voluntarily provided by individuals. This information can come from location tags from posts on social media, public mapping sites such as Google Mapmaker, or from geo-locations such as cell phone tracking. This data can be published on the internet, or collected by companies such as cell service providers; as long as the customer has agreed to volunteer the data.
The era of Big Data was brought on by the evolution of computers, advancement of data storage, and processing. Big data consists of extremely large data sets that are collected and later analyzed to find trends.
How VGI is Used Today
Currently VGI is used in the majority of the mapping industry's. The Geodemographic
analysis industry uses VGI data to map how cities evolve. Other companies such as TomTom and Google use the information to keep maps up to date, improve rural mapping, and to serve as a cost cutting source.
VGI is a evolving area based on the ever growing amount of data available to people and third parties. Everything from Social Media to GeoLocation allows for different combinations of data to be combined to predict trends or patterns hiding within the data.
Fischer, F. (2012). A New but Delicate Geographic Data Source VGI as Big Data. GeoInformatics, 46-47.