Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas

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Volunteered Mapping AND Data Governance in the Americas


This project explored how to connect volunteered geographic information and crowdsourced spatial data with government cartographers and geographers to better serve the public across the hemisphere.

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CONTENTS 01.

Executive Summary................................................ 2

02. Introduction ...............................................................6 03. Research Approach ..............................................12

05. Conclusion................................................................39 A. Institutional Momentum as a Barrier to Change and Concerns about Work Processes

A. Roundtable Forum B.

Online Survey

C.

Participatory Approach

B. Observations Concerning Access to Government Data vs. Availability of VGI data

D. Case Study Interviews

C. Observations from Panama

E.

D. Recap of Recommendations

Current Status of Geospatial Data

E.

04. Outcomes and Findings....................................24 A. Awareness and Motivation to Participate i.

Costa Rica

ii. Jamaica and Belize

B.

07.

Reference List.........................................................46

08. Appendix.................................................................... 47 A. Terms

iv. Dominican Republic

B.

Incentives and Drivers

C. Students

i.

D. Hosts

Panama

About the Authors

E. Organizations

Partnerships and Role of Champions i.

Mexico

ii. Colombia D. Concerns of Quality: How Processes of Engagement Matter i.

06. Funding Acknowledgments ...........................45

iii. Colombia

ii. Jamaica C.

Next Steps for Moving Forward

Jamaica

ii. Colombia iii. Mexico

Reference: Jean Parcher Wintemute, Patricia Solís, Nancy Aguirre, Vivian Arriaga, Adele Birkenes, Calvin Zhang, Daniel Council, Emily Wulf, Enith K. Lay Soler, Mason Jones, John Sawyer McCarley. 2021 “Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas” Published for the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History, Mexico City, Mexico. Available at: bit.ly/VGIamericas.

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 1


Executive Summary

P

ublic institutions are responsible for provision of services to all citizens. In order to do this, they often leverage spatial data

and information through official government cartographic agencies. However, the expense and difficulty of maintaining comprehensive maps for many countries, remains a serious challenge—

VGI is Volunteered Geographic Information OSM is Open Street Map, the dominant VGI network

especially doing so in a way that gives the public access to this information. Whereas crowdsourced maps produced by volunteers contain important information for building resilient communities and infrastructure, rarely is the spatial information integrated into official cartographies. Local and national public institutions may not trust data quality, collectors’ adherence to standards, and completeness. This study aims to articulate these challenges and barriers, and identify the opportunities for using volunteered geographic data relative to official cartographies within the Western Hemisphere. This region is of particular interest because it combines cross-border harmonization of official fundamental spatial datasets and our experiences with universities

YouthMappers is a global community of students, researchers, educators, and scholars that use public geospatial technologies to highlight and directly address development challenges worldwide. Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH) is a technical and scientific body of the Organization of American States (OAS) specializing in the areas of cartography, geography, history and geophysics. It promotes and funds capacity training, investigative research, and multidisciplinary projects among the 21 member states.

and students to build volunteered open mapping datasets. The main objective of the case studies focused on expanding our knowledge concerning the challenges and conditions of acceptance of volunteered geographic information (VGI). Specifically, we looked at where and when VGI is used. We wanted to understand the impact of incorporating this data into the official framework

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aware of the collection efforts of Open Street Map (OSM) and YouthMappers within their countries. The major goal of this investigation was to connect the VGI community with the government geographers/ cartographers to explore possible pilot projects to incorporate VGI data into the official cartographies.

of geographic data, users, tools, and applications.

The participatory research was carried out in

Very few of the National Geography Institutes are

three main phases: roundtable forum, user survey,


BELIZE

JAMAICA

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

MEXICO

COSTA RICA

and individual case studies. The project was created using the guidance of the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH). The rollout of the research and introduction to participant countries was held during a roundtable forum at the Joint Technical Conference of the PAIGH Geography Commission. The thematic portion of the online survey had a list of ranked questions to gauge the participants’ knowledge about crowdsource data within their country.

PANAMA COLOMBIA

Directors of the National Geography Institutes of Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic agreed to participate in the case studies and host student research interns from the United States. There were two core requirements of the internship case studies. One was a series of interviews with government officials and volunteer mapping participants. The second was a jointly agreed upon VGI deliverable that would benefit the government agency. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the interns conducted their interviews and VGI deliverables virtually over the course of six months.

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Caye Caulker, Belize - Local women cycle on the partially flooded sand path after a tropical storm.

The results from our research:

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Among the seven countries, there were various levels of awareness at each of the government national geography agencies. Their awareness differed in both the availability of data and the collaborators. The collaborators included: the VGI communities of OSM, YouthMappers and other NGOs. Interns provided training workshops and virtual meetings to introduce each collaborator to the government institutions. We recommend showing successful examples from each region to the public agencies.

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Our study occurred during Covid-19 quarantine. Interestingly, there were greater incentives for VGI applications to update and/or correct geographic place names since travel for field work was restricted. Before Covid-19, these drivers were present, but not always embraced. For the future, we recommend that place names and local geographic knowledge continue to be sourced from VGI and shared with each country’s government.

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It is apparent that innovative methods and successful collaboration requires dedicated champions, with whom we can foster long-term partnerships. Within the seven case studies, interns highlighted successful examples of government partnerships. One example is the participatory cartography approach. This was implemented by Mexico’s National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI) to lead government and VGI projects. Additionally, Jamaica’s government sponsored NERGIST (National Emergency Response GIS Team). NERGIST is a unique form of engagement and benefits other countries in the Caribbean. Further, in Colombia, new champions are emerging within the Urban and Rural Planning agency (UPRA) to launch and test a new VGI project. Therefore, we underscore the importance of identifying official cartographic and VGI collaboration.


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We compared different models of government data availability. This provided insights to the use and need for VGI data. It also helped us see why institutions were resistant to change. The results were fascinating. For countries where geographic data is freely available to the public, such as Mexico and Colombia, VGI data is abundant, and freely used. Government institutions of Mexico and Colombia have ongoing programs to train and collaborate with the volunteer networks to improve data quality. In countries where public access and use of government geospatial data is extremely limited, the public has few applications for any type of geospatial data. This limits the production and need for VGI data. We recommend that future efforts be tailored to the individual needs, capacity, data policies, and opportunities present in each national context.

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Collaborating directly with the National Geography Institutes within PAIGH provided a unique advantage to build upon the awareness, relevance, and experience gained in this research project. It allowed for developing pilot projects between the VGI community and government institutes. The findings of this research could launch new seed projects funded by the PAIGH technical assistance grants. These grants may provide a solid foundation for the countries within the Americas and the Caribbean to share successful experiences with crowdsource data applications. Through institutional frameworks that are invested in spatial data infrastructure and open mapping, as well as organizations that promote overall security and resilience of the hemispheres, we recommend sharing best practices across nations of the Americas.

We hope this information will help expand the base of knowledge about the role of VGI for official cartographies. In turn, the landscape of evidencebased decision-making will develop. Our goal from this study is to help establish a foundation for building an information sharing community across academic and government sectors.

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YouthMappers not only encourages students to create open spatial data as a public good, but also supports university students and their faculty mentors to use the data for answering important research questions coming from local governments and community-based organizations, about food security, disasters, humanitarian needs, and more. Above, the YouthMappers Research Fellows 2019 cohort enjoy a break from a week-long training at West Virginia University.

Introduction Open access to high-resolution satellite imagery allows for the creation of vast amounts of new geospatial data. These data are shared daily through online open platforms by volunteer, humanitarian or crisis mapping actors around the world.

H

owever, they are typically created either ad-hoc or for immediate use in response to urgent crises or extreme events. Such

information contains many geographic features and attributes which are critical to building resilient communities and infrastructure over the longer term. However, rarely are such mapping activities integrated into official local and national public institutions. These institutions are mandated to provide timely information for public good. This is particularly true in countries where public access to data is already restricted. Integrating crowdsourced data into official government databases systematically suffers from a lack of

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Over seven million volunteers and GIS professionals map local knowledge to contribute and maintain data about transportation (roads, trails, and railroads), businesses (restaurants and stores) and health and public safety infrastructure.


What is VGI? There are some blank spots on the map where there is poor understanding of factors affecting human and environmental vulnerabilities. There are also blind

There are several varieties of international volunteered geographic information (VGI) networks. Open Street Map is the dominant VGI network worldwide. All data is free and open. YouthMappers is a global community of students, researchers, educators, and scholars that use public geospatial

spots in our understanding of how to

technologies to highlight and directly address

effectively and ethically harness the

development challenges worldwide. It represents

crowdsourced spatial data revolution.

students and the academic sector within the larger

We want to use VGI to not only fill in

OSM community (Brovelli et al. 2019; Solís et al 2018;

knowledge gaps to meet humanitarian

Solís et al 2020). As of the date of this publication,

and development needs (and the impetus to build resilience) but also for empowering citizen-based spatial data production.

YouthMappers has 278 student-led chapters in 62 countries and continues to grow. YouthMappers focuses on the demand for open geospatial data access in all parts of the world. OSM, which began in 2004, is a community driven process. Over seven million volunteers and GIS professionals map local knowledge to contribute and maintain data about transportation (roads,

trust of the data quality, adherence to standards,

trails, and railroads), businesses (restaurants and

and completeness. Crowdsourced data are not

stores) and health and public safety infrastructure.

always produced with awareness of the demands

OSM provides software tools for uploading data

required to successfully implement evidence-based

collected by volunteers using ground surveys, digital

decision making in government agencies. Meanwhile,

orthophotos, satellite images, and local knowledge.

advances in research on resilience and vulnerability are hampered by access to reliable data (Barrett & Headey 2014) and decision makers bemoan lack of data as one of the biggest obstacles to progress towards development goals (UN 2014; Stuart et al. 2015).

OSM also provides editing and quality control software tools to assure that the data is reliable and accurate. The data is used by the general public, especially in countries where government geospatial data is not publicly available. Agreements have been made with many online mapping applications to

Our goal is to generate insightful, empirically

help fund the digital infrastructure in exchange for

grounded knowledge around the driving research

using the data in their applications. A specialized

question: How can open, volunteered spatial data be

application of OSM is the Humanitarian

systematically integrated to produce the knowledge

OpenStreetMap application: HOT. It provides

needed by public institutions responsible for

an interface between OSM and the humanitarian

provision of services to all citizens?

organizations during and after a natural disaster event.

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GeoChicas was launched to support groups of women. GeoChicas focuses on closing the gender gap, both in volunteering and data collection priorities, in the OSM community. Some examples of mapping needs specific to women are the following: birthing centers, specialized medical centers, and safe routes for traveling in the evening.

What Benefit does VGI Offer for Official Government Cartographies? The use of georeferenced data is now ubiquitous. Officials rely on this data to make informed decisions. The geospatial revolution has launched a suite of advanced technologies based on location, GIS, remote sensing, and GPS. This is available to individuals, businesses, governments, and civil society. Coupled with new communications technologies and social media, these advances now

Since less than 5% of OSM contributors are women, a focused group called GeoChicas was

open platforms not only use spatial data but create it

launched to support groups of women. GeoChicas

as well. Today, virtually any data can be mapped, and

focuses on closing the gender gap, both in

mapped in relation to many other variables. There is

volunteering and data collection priorities, in the

a wide range of applications. The data can be used

OSM community. Some examples of mapping

for infrastructure development or governmental

needs specific to women are the following: birthing

services provision (such as education and health

centers, specialized medical centers, and safe

care facilities locational siting). It can also be useful

routes for traveling in the evening. These may not

for hazards like drought and floods. Additionally, the

have been considered by male contributors. The

data can benefit agriculture, social vulnerability risk

possibilities for this kind of collaboration are exciting,

reduction, economic development and planning,

but there are challenges to making this relationship

land tenure and taxation, renewable energy

as fruitful as possible. Historically, these data were

resources, environmental/sustainability issues, and

typically created either ad-hoc or for immediate

more. However, the need for data to inform decisions

use in response to urgent crises or extreme events.

in government can be hampered by the inability

With the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, VGI data focused on collecting data to help public health needs. They also used data to acquire goods and services. Data concerning locations and hours of

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reach even more people. Internet mapping, and

of governments to be able to produce and update geospatial data in a timely manner and/or make it available to the public. There are a few reasons why integrating

operation of pharmacies and stores to buy PPE

crowdsourced VGI data into official government

and medicines, capacity of hospital beds, and food

databases systematically suffers. First, the

distribution sites was collected. Additionally, data

government may not trust the data’s quality

was collected for economic and societal operations.

and source. Second, the data may not adhere to


Despite the increased availability of internet mapping sites (Google Maps, Google Earth Engine, Microsoft Bing, Nokia Here) that also provide current and historical high resolution satellite imagery for public access, and data creation tools (such as OpenStreetMap), many governments find difficulty in using or integrating it with official data. If VGI data were used, more resilient communities could form and the public would benefit. This is particularly true in countries where public access to geospatial data is already restricted, or the costs of comprehensively updating data are out of reach of public budgets.

government data systems but do require sufficient robustness to implement evidence-based decision making in government agencies. Volunteers need to produce data according to government standards including accuracy and completeness. This requires partnerships with the government institutions to build collaboration between champions of all entities.

Why Focus on the Americas?

Exchanging knowledge around open spatial data can lead to learning and discovery. Above, students point to locations on a crowdsourcing exercise at a poster session.

government standards. Third, there are problems with the data’s completeness. In addressing the first issue of trust, volunteers should produce data with an utmost awareness of the accuracy and complexities required to successfully support public functions. This may or may not mean wholesale incorporation into

In the context of this project, teams of interns and volunteers, led by the principal investigators, conducted studies to answer these questions in Mexico and select countries in Central America and the Caribbean. This occurred because of generous funding from the National Science Foundation and the researchers participation with the Pan American Institute of Geography and History. The Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH), a specialized organization of the Organization of American States, provided the context and relationship to select specific countries and geographic institutes. University interns were selected throughout the United States and assigned

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 9


Figure 1 — Active Mappers in Central America (by Jennings Anderson, 2021)

A fundamental objective of PAIGH is to promote collaboration among member countries to modernize national mapping institutes.

border harmonized geospatial map of Central America and a hemispheric-wide survey of the status and availability (including public access) of geospatial data.

to individual countries to carry out

among member countries to

research tasks. The assignment

modernize national mapping

integration of official geospatial

was based on the students’

institutes. This is done by sharing

datasets by national mapping

prior international experiences,

best practices, increasing

institute technical data producers

language proficiency in Spanish,

capacity through workshops,

in Mesoamerica (Norori et

and participation in either

and funding seed projects to

YouthMappers or other VGI

al, 2013). In 2011, a series of

build regional initiatives, such as

activities.

workshops using participatory

the Global Map of the Americas

mapping methodologies took

(Norori et al, 2013). Two notable

place in Central America and

outcomes of relevant prior

southern Mexico. The workshops

A fundamental objective of PAIGH is to promote collaboration

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efforts are a regional cross-

PAIGH supported the


aimed to facilitate key government actors to build a digital integrated, seamless map of the entire region. Each national mapping agency had been using different data resolution, diverse naming conventions, and other distinct cartographic standards that often led to incongruent or mismatched watersheds, road networks, or other data at national boundaries. This complicated international coordination on projects. Examples of this include: infrastructure improvement, environmental mitigation, and disaster preparedness.

Integrated datasets were built with a foundation for south to south and north to south collaboration to increase the quality and correctness of official geospatial datasets within the Americas.

In the subsequent five years, the group held four workshops for the harmonization of official geographic data of Belize, Central America, southern Mexico and Panama. At first there was some difficulty sharing geospatial data, agreeing on exchange formats and associated standards. However, the effort produced a closely-knit community of practice. PAIGH and the Latin American Development Bank have replicated this effort to complete the Northern Andes region and the southern cone of South America, including Brazil. These results emphasized the participatory approach. Integrated datasets were built with a foundation for south to south and north to south collaboration to increase the quality and correctness of official geospatial datasets within the Americas. Our present study leveraged this work to better understand the potential role of VGI in this region.

Open spatial data contributed by many volunteers can make remote infrastructure visible so when disasters hit, responders can navigate. Above, a flooded road in Central America.

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Youth voices attract the attention of decision makers. Above, Vivian Arriaga, an ASU student, YouthMappers leader, and NSF Fellow presents to a room of officials at a technical meeting of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Research Approach The research was carried out in three main phases: roundtable forum, user survey, and individual country case studies.

Roundtable Forum The rollout of the research and introduction to participant countries was held at a Roundtable Forum on July 11th, 2019 during the Joint Technical Conference of the PAIGH Commissions held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The roundtable forum was comprised of 19 government and research geographers from 11 countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, United States, and Colombia. The overarching goal of the roundtable forum focused on discussing three ideas: defining VGI, sharing knowledge and experiences about VGI data collection and exploring challenges and benefits for integrating VGI into official geographic data for countries in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

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Above, YouthMappers Leadership Fellows gather in Kathmandu, Nepal to gain valuable technical and workforce skills.


The participants expressed the following challenges of integrating the VGI data:

governments wouldn’t trust the data

perceived loss of responsibility for data collection and employment for government employees

the volunteers would be unfamiliar with data collection standards

By just looking at OpenStreetMap, I am impressed by it. To get certain types of information, it’s always updated, and it’s live.

the volunteers would not be adequately trained

government institutions would lack incentive

of Geography and Statistics (INEGI) in Mexico

to adopt changes

has both a cartographic participatory unit and a working arrangement with OSM and GeoChicas, a network for women volunteers in OSM, to develop processes to collaboratively build data using volunteer networks.

Participants expressed the following benefits of incorporating VGI data:

residents currently lack access to open government data

governments would have better resources to update, fill in the gaps, and collect thematic data

countries would be better prepared because they would receive current and time critical data during disaster risk and national emergencies Everyone agreed that more formal partnerships

between government institutions, VGI groups, and universities were needed. Once these partnerships were formed, the opportunities for collaboration would allow for dynamic data environments to exist. It was especially interesting to hear from participants from Mexico and Jamaica, as they shared about their formal partnerships within their respective countries. In Jamaica, the National Emergency Response GIS Team (NERGIST) collaboration is coordinated by the government agency for emergency response to recruit, train, and deploy volunteers from government agencies and universities to collect data during natural disasters and emergencies. The National Institute

Online Survey After receiving feedback from the roundtable forum, a digital survey was launched in Spanish and English to geographic researchers and government officials in the Americas via email. The survey included 21 multiple choice and open-ended questions. 14 of the questions were thematic questions, six concerned ancillary data of participant subjects (i.e. their country of origin; job title and sector, gender, age and education attainment), and one question (Q21) sought to gather additional comments to the project’s researchers. The survey began with definitions for geospatial and geographic data, official geospatial data, and VGI data. Next, the thematic portion of the survey had a list of ranked questions to gauge the participants’ knowledge about crowdsource data within their country—such as specific applications, benefits, successes and failures, abundance or lack of data, and whether public agencies use crowdsourced data. The final part of the survey provided open

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Key Results of the Survey: NSF Countries Responses

I know at least one example project where volunteered geographic information has been successfully integrated with official cartographic data.

Volunteered spatial data is one way that we can increase the availability of free, open spatial data in my country.

Crowdsourcing data provides a clear benefit to government agency needs.

Crowdsourcing data provides a clear benefit to address citizen concerns.

KEY STRONGLY AGREE

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AGREE

DISAGREE

STRONGLY DISAGREE

NEITHER AGREE OR DISAGREE


The first was a series of interviews with government officials and volunteer mapping participants. The second was a jointly agreed upon VGI deliverable that would benefit the government agency. Initially, the plan for the case studies required the research interns to spend six weeks in their assigned country working closely with the National Geography Institute and with the universities/communities involved in either YouthMappers or OSM activities. The countries that agreed to host the interns and collaborate with the research case study were: Panelists from the VGI Roundtable Forum held in the Dominican Republic.

Geografía (INEGI)

• ended questions concerning known applications, benefits, quality of the crowdsource data, processes

Belize: Land Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources

Costa Rica: Instituto Geográfico Nacional, Registro Nacional

used, training needed, and opportunities or barriers to crowdsource data integration within government

Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y

Panama: Instituto Nacional Geográfico Tommy

databases. Participant subjects were allowed to stop

Guardia, Autoridad Nacional de Administración

answering questions at any time they wished. The

de Tierras

survey was opened to people 18 years and older, from January 6 to March 29, 2020. A total of 61 persons

(IGAC), Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de

responded from 15 countries in the Americas.

Participatory Approach A competitive call for university research interns resulted in the selection of eight students with Latin

Colombia: Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi, Colombia (UPTC), Unidad de Planificación Rural Agropecuaria (UPRA)

Dominican Republic: Instituto Geográfico Nacional José Joaquín Hungría Morell

Jamaica: National Spatial Data Management

America cultural knowledge, VGI experience, and

Branch, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job

a minimum level of conversational Spanish fluency.

Creation.

While the research interns were being selected, the principal investigators (PI) presented the project to

In March 2020, the World Health Organization

the directors of the National Geography Institutes

declared a world-wide pandemic due to the rapidly

within Central America, Mexico, Colombia, and

spreading Covid-19 Coronavirus. Instead of delaying

PAIGH observer nations in the Caribbean to request

the project for an additional year, everyone involved

their participation in the case studies. There were

agreed to implement the case studies in a virtual

two core requirements of the internship case studies.

environment using the technical tools available

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 15


Of the seven countries involved, only Mexico and Colombia have legislation to allow free and open access to official geographic spatial information. through the internet. The advantages to this situation encompassed increased collaboration of technical expertise between the research interns as needed

Thesis Questions

for each case study, longer case study time frame, and greater involvement between the PI’s, interns, and host countries. Of course, taking this approach resulted in some disadvantages. Most notably, it was more difficult to maintain regular communication in some countries, and complexities in reaching out to the OSM and YouthMappers communities.

Case Study Interviews Research interns conducted case study interviews in a story-telling manner. They were semi-structured. This allowed interviewees to guide us through their experiences (see sidebar). We provided our interns with specific questions which would allow them to probe deeper as the interview progressed. Further, given the profile of interviewees, we chose a snowball sampling method. Interviewees were primarily professionals in geospatial fields who might have been exposed to some exchange between crowdsourced geospatial data and official data. The only further condition in our sampling was that interviewees were varied enough that we would clearly hear different stories across interviews.

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Does providing public access to official geographic information facilitate greater opportunities to integrate VGI data into the official geographic data process? What fundamental elements of VGI must be present to begin working with official cartographic agencies? How prevalent and informally coordinated are the VGI networks in the countries? Is the need and availability of VGI data greater in countries where the public does not have open and free access to the official geographic datasets from the government? If the National Geography Institutes are willing to try a pilot project, what are some of the major challenges? What types of projects are most conducive to having volunteers collect spatial data and work with government to integrate the data?


Interview Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

At what moment did you first become aware of crowdsourced spatial data? What specific incident (action, discovery, insight, or event) prompted this awareness? What led up to the situation (cause)? What happened next?* What did you (and/or another person) do? Why did you decide to do this? What were you thinking when this happened? What outcomes resulted?

*When needed, additional prompting questions or clarification questions for the interviewee to continue relating details of the incident was used. We asked these follow-up questions: 1. 2. 3. 4.

What happened next? What else happened? Where were you when this happened? When did this happen?

We also asked interviewees to reflect and expand on what they were saying. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Who produces and consumes crowdsourced spatial data in your country? Where, how, and for what purposes has crowdsourcing data provided a clear benefit to government agency needs? What about its impact on citizen concerns? What roles do respective actors play, and how do they relate? What types of processes enable/prohibit integrated data into official sources of information? What determines an acceptable quality and who defines it/how is that defined? What conditions for volunteers lend to/inhibit negotiating better accuracy? What is the need for crowdsourced spatial data relative to your country’s public access to official cartographic and geographic data?

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Online access to geospatial data, such as Colombia’s geoportal, provides resources for VGI and citizen science applications.

Data Policies for Access to Official Geospatial Data Of the seven countries involved, only Mexico and Colombia have legislation to allow free and open access to official geographic spatial information. They allow the public to download data in GIS format from their web portal. Four of the other countries (Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and Jamaica) have spatial data information (SDI) frameworks and geoportals. These allow some integration of government approved geographic spatial data between government agencies and the public. The Instituto Nacional Geográfico Tommy Guardia of Panama allows public downloads of topographic maps in PDF format, but does not make the geospatial data public in GIS format. In Costa Rica, the Instituto Geográfico

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and thematic data layers in their Open Geospatial Consortium web based software applications. They may use MapServer, ArcGIS Server and GEOServer for a visual geographic presentation, but cannot download datasets. The Belize National Spatial Data Infrastructure website allows registered government and NGO’s to view geospatial data in a geoportal. It also allows downloads of simple non-georeferenced PDF’s for their different base cartographic layers. Jamaica’s Land Information Council National Spatial Data Management Division coordinates the National Spatial Data Information policies, training, and access to government GIS data. Limited land information data is available through eLandJamaica web map. Users can view the data and then purchase products for download. When the data is available for the public to purchase, the data is still proprietary. The one country without an SDI, the Dominican

Nacional manages the Sistema Nacional de

Republic, was developing a spatial data information

Información Territorial (SNIT). Here users can

network when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, thus the

integrate the base cartographic, orthophotos,

SDI project was put on hold.


Availability of Spatial Data Information by Country Country

Web Portals for Data or Country SDI’s

Notes

Mexico

https://inegi.org.mx/datos/

Free access and download

Belize

https://portal.bnsdi.gov.bz/

Government and registered NGO access only

Costa Rica

https://www.snitcr.go.cr/snit_que_es

OGC web based software applications only

Panama

https://ignpanama.anati.gob.pa/

Digital topographic map downloads only

Colombia

https://www.colombiaenmapas.gov.co/

Free access and download

Dominican Republic

In development

Jamaica

https://nspit.licj.org.jm

How prevalent and informally coordinated are VGI networks in the study countries?

Data viewing only, purchase allowable

Non-government organizations (NGOs) in the Dominican Republic have created environmental datasets and vulnerable population data, yet there is no general repository for government or public access to these datasets (see sidebar on page 23). In Colombia, VGI success is most visible in citizen

After reviewing interviews, we found there were varied results for incorporating data. The seven countries involved showed differences in level of involvement, availability of data and coordination of VGI from OSM, YouthMappers and NGOs.

or participatory science initiatives. There are over

In Costa Rica, OSM mapped the majority of the road networks and tourist and travel facilities. They had help from foreign entities (see page 26).

There is also interest on the part of the National

In Belize, the OSM community is very small with limited data. Farmers from Belize voiced a need for digital mapping data that could be used offline instead of using data streaming services such as Google Maps.

100 initiatives of citizen science projects focused on collecting data for environmental factors such as forestry, flora, fauna, and air and water quality. These applications can be implemented in rural areas. Geographic Institute to foster VGI applications for both geographic names and cadastral data collection and updates. Among other mapping initiatives, YouthMappers leads the mapping of squatter settlements in Cartagena. In Panama, though certainly not mainstream, genuine crowdsourced data is present within a small

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 19


community of independent OSM mappers. One very active volunteer began mapping trek trails after the pandemic disrupted his jungle trek business. Another volunteer organization is the University of Panama’s student chapter of YouthMappers. Unlike independent OSM mappers, YouthMappers generates volunteer data through collaborative projects among its members. Such projects include mapathons of school campuses or rivers in a polluted area.

In Mexico, collaboration between government agencies, geospatial research centers, and VGI communities have produced an abundance of crowdsourced applications (see page 21). A unique example of a government supported VGI network is Jamaica’s National Emergency Response GIS Team (NERGIST). NERGIST is a volunteer group of government employees trained and coordinated by the Land Information Council of Jamaica under the National Spatial Data

Management Branch (NSDMB) to collect data during natural disasters. NERGIST is a highly effective response effort, yet we are unsure whether the data is integrated into the official cartographies of Jamaica. The NERGIST leadership team is heavily involved in the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) for the entire Caribbean, activating their NERGIST model. International NGOs such as OXFAM have entered into the geospatial world. They have been supporting and managing a risk

Figure 2 — Timeline of Growth of Open Street Map in Central America (by Jennings Anderson, 2021)

20


Crowdsourced Applications in Mexico Mexico has well-coordinated VGI communities.

The CentroGeo participants felt this was their

They are OSM, GeoChicas, and many NGOs

most successful geospatial data VGI project.

which have developed crowdsourced applications

It had great turnout and there was continued

to support local needs. CentroGeo (Mexico’s

participation. They attributed this success to the

National Science Foundation (CONACYT)

workflow between CentroGeo and Núcleo Verde.

supported geospatial research center)

CentroGeo focused on early-stage development

collaborates with NGOs to develop

and promoting it initially, while Núcleo Verde

VGI applications.

concentrated efforts on continuous promotion and

For example, one ongoing project named Cuentárboles (count trees) involves a tree census app that allows for the conservation of trees. The app references trees. It gives exact coordinates so participants can closely monitor individual trees. It originated in Aguascalientes, Mexico, but is available and used nationwide.

active participation. Núcleo Verde used creative ways to promote the app. They made it into a game and shared it on social media. Then they added physical prizes and asked private companies to participate as teams. This (the latter concept) is called amigárboles. It is a mashup of the Spanish words for friends and trees. They continued to promote the app on social media, including

Local ecologist collective, Núcleo Verde (Green

YouTube. Additionally, they offered training

Nucleus), came to CentroGeo deeply concerned

courses, organized campaign events, and recruited

about tree felling. Conveniently, CentroGeo

students and their families by offering community

already had a prototype app that could be used

service hours, which are required in Mexico.

to solve this problem. This prototype app was recycled from an app called Chido Gacho. Chido Gacho was used for landscape ratings but was long abandoned by the public. The Chido Gacho prototype was retrofitted and further developed to create Cuentárboles.


management system for the

collection personnel. This training

interface for data collection, cross checking of information collected for validation, and random verification. The critical technical considerations include: an adaptation between data to collect and capacity of the app user (measure distances, surfaces, estimate vegetation type, etc.), as well as, checking the stability of the app and the server to avoid loss of information.

places emphasis on the simplicity

Government agencies have

National Emergency Commission in the Dominican Republic. They do this by training teams of volunteers to collect data on size, type, accessibility and conditions of civil defense shelters for emergency evacuations. In order to ensure the quality of voluntary data, some procedures have been developed to train data

and logic of the application

experienced greater success

in citizen science projects, such as biodiversity, bird watching, collecting weather data, documenting tree canopy, than actual updating of geographic information. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic created new opportunities for updating geographic information. Travel restrictions for government employees during Covid prohibited field work, thus delaying the updating of geographic names. Several pilot projects

Figure 3 — Count of HOT related changesets in Central America (by Jennings Anderson, 2021)

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... all of our interns were from chapters within the United States, many of them facilitated discussions within universities in their assigned countries to open new YouthMappers chapters. for certain countries were suggested. For instance, these projects might include using local knowledge to update general geographic names (Colombia) and more particularly, the names of roads and addresses. As a deliverable, one intern developed a sophisticated GIS application and trained the National Geography Institute in Panama on its use to allow local knowledge to update street names. It was a difficult, yet exciting time. Because all of our interns were from chapters within the United States, many of them facilitated discussions within universities in their assigned countries to open new YouthMappers chapters. In the case of Mexico, of which INEGI already has implemented a participatory cartographic program, the final project was a detailed report of recommendations to improve and expand the volunteer mapping programs to include higher participation of women. The participation of champions within the government agencies, such as in the case of Panama, Mexico, and Colombia, provided greater opportunities to develop pilot projects with the volunteer community.

VGI Data in Dominican Republic The growth of VGI in the Dominican Republic is focused on targeting a specific group of interested people. The key to a successful VGI project is utilizing a technology platform and teaching people skills so they can accurately collect data. Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic is a non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve biodiversity and the ecosystem. They do this through awareness, training, monitoring and legislation of the sustainable management of natural resources. Volunteers from local communities participate in a variety of ways. These range from measuring air and water quality to reporting crimes and even analyzing spatial imagery. This brings value and enrichment to their lives and increases the importance of biodiversity. Another non-profit organization is Arcoiris. Arcoiris promotes processes and projects for both disadvantaged people and vulnerable degraded areas in the Dominican Republic. They do this through social action, as well as social and technical innovation methods. Arcoiris focuses on three topics. The first is disaster risk management. The second is land use planning and development. And, the third is water and sanitation.

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 23


Open source software like Open Data Kit (ODK), for collecting, managing, and using data in areas lacking internet access, can be used offline (in remote areas) by collecting data with mobile devices which can later upload the data to computer servers when internet connectivity is available.

Outcomes and Findings We had an opportunity to conduct applied research lead by university students active in VGI mapping in collaboration with reliable government partners from the PAIGH organization. This provided significant insights into the opportunities and challenges of incorporating VGI data into official geographic datasets.

W

e needed to figure out how to implement a successful project so we selected certain elements from focus

group participants, the web-based survey, and literature reviews. Those key elements to explore, evaluate, and identify are:

Is the government institution aware of VGI and motivated to participate in a pilot project?

What incentives and drivers motivate institutional change to take new risks to develop collaborative projects?

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artnerships and institutional champions to P affect change are priceless assets; what are those partnerships and who are these champions?

hy does the process of engagement matter W to ensure success?

hat is required to overcome institutional W resistance to develop new work processes to incorporate VGI data into official geographic databases? hese were conducted by the interns under T the guidance of the PIs.


Awareness and Motivation to Participate Research interns conducted a wide range of interviews with their respective national geographic institutions. These interviews questioned the amount and types of volunteered geographic information available in their respective countries. Each country had a varying degree of VGI awareness. For instance, geographers working for the government in Mexico, Jamaica, and biologists in Colombia were extremely knowledgeable about the availability of VGI in their country. In the case of Mexico, the government agency for mapping, INEGI, had actively participated in

Geográfico Nacional José Joaquín Hungría Morell was recently created in 2014. Previously, government mapping for the country was carried out by the military and academia. Therefore, public involvement and use of geospatial data remains limited. Government geographers in Panama and Colombia were knowledgeable of OSM and YouthMappers VGI programs in their countries, but had rarely reached out to the volunteer community. As part of the internship under this study, a geographer working for the Tommy Guardia of Panama championed and led the research internship in the development of a technical pilot project to allow citizens to update geographic names remotely during Covid-19. Due to time constraints, the project has yet to be implemented fully.

incorporating VGI into their official datasets. In Colombia, several scientific agencies, such as Wildlife and Agriculture had implemented citizen science volunteers to augment their databases. In Jamaica, the GIS experts readily used volunteered geographic information for supporting other Caribbean countries for hurricane and natural disaster preparedness and recovery efforts. However, in some countries, government geographic institutes were less aware of VGI. This was true in the cases of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Belize. Here, government geographic institutes had very little awareness of the amount, themes, and quality of VGI data for their country. OSM volunteers in Costa Rica are very active and mapped most of their country, yet there seemed to be little communication between OSM and government officials. In Belize, OSM data is sparse. Despite this, the geographers working for the government were very willing to explore a pilot project for updating street addresses in their capital:

YouthMappers are organized as chapters on campuses to leverage local infrastructure for data and education that public entities can better access through student engagement. Above: a YouthMappers’ student works in the campus lab.

Belmopan. In the Dominican Republic, the Instituto

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 25


Costa Rica Case Study: Where Trustworthy Public Maps Meet Well-Established Public Institutions Costa Rica’s OpenStreetMap is largely complete

The need for timely geospatial data during and after a natural disaster sparked the innovation of NERGIST.

and of high quality. However, ensuring data quality standardization and verification is essential for the government to integrate and use crowdsourced data in the official geospatial databases. OpenStreetMap (OSM) in Costa Rica has developed and documented editing guidelines created by experienced OSM contributors. These guidelines have been consolidated onto a series of Wikipedia pages. Although, these still need to be more widely

experienced OSM members (who have professional backgrounds in open-source fields) expressed great interest in the unified goal of integrating OSM into official government datasets. Despite obvious barriers present to integration, the mere initiation of communication between two previously detached actors of Costa Rica’s mapping landscape is both inspiring and promising.

distributed throughout the OSM Community. Alterations from non-native contributors (such as tourists and overseas users) and inexperienced contributors are most commonly found deviating from these guidelines, but many of these incorrect edits have been redeemed by experienced contributors who have assumed quality control responsibilities. Unprecedented before this research project, the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) of Costa Rica had not considered integrating crowdsourced data into their official geospatial database. It was clear that many community members of OpenStreetMap had perceptions of the government being uncommunicative and uninterested in community mapping efforts. There was no prior structure that allowed for government and community discussion and collaboration on geographic information matters. Therefore, the first virtual meeting was held in September 2020 with members of each organization, facilitated by our team and the student interns. Both the members of the IGN and two

26

Jamaica and Belize Case Study: Where Exchange Within and Across Countries Offers a Path for Greater Capacity Jamaica has well-developed geospatial data acquisition and technical applications. Due to perceived budget needs, most of the government produced geospatial data is sold to both the public and to other government agencies. This data is sold to recoup labor costs. The need for timely geospatial data during and after a natural disaster sparked the innovation of NERGIST. The public has access to products such as maps and web-based dashboards, but actual data sets are proprietary. There are over 100 senior OSM mappers who frequently work on mapping their own communities and abroad. Additionally, YouthMappers chapters, such as at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, regularly contribute to local and foreign projects.


Official data in Belize is collected by governmental employees. It is generally only shared within agencies, private enterprises, and institutions of higher education through the Belize National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Discussions with employees of the Belize Land Information Council illuminated for us that VGI has been a topic of discussion, but no project related to this type of data collection has been implemented yet. This is due to a lack of time and resources and the view that crowdsourced data may be inaccurate. Additionally, VGI and official data requires an active OSM community. Belize’s OSM community is rather small; using the OSM stats website, one can find that Belize averages just under 15 active OSM members at any given time. An introduction to OSM on the university level might boost this number and provide a resource of more spatial data volunteers.

and government officials. The objective of the three-

After collaborating with the interns in Jamaica and Belize, a plan developed to virtually host a

During the two hour Mapathon, participants mapped

workshop with OSM volunteers, university students,

identifying groceries, town halls, and other institutions.

hour workshop was to do three things. First, it was to introduce the university students and government officials of both countries to the VGI world of OSM. Second, it was to begin a Mapathon data collection project in Belize. The third objective was to facilitate discussions between geographers in the two countries and between prospective geography students and government geographers within each country. Over 70 people attended the workshop and participated in the Mapathon data collection project. The Mapathon session aimed to collect house structures to support Belize in their management of Covid-19 near Orange Walk. Guest speakers gave an overview of their geospatial data projects. Attendees received OSM logins and instructions on procedures, such as, data standards and validation, collection procedures, and interpreting satellite imagery. buildings and roads, while the Belizean locals were

The image above shows Orange Walk, Belize, an area on which the Mapathon focused.

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 27


In a mere hour, attendees completed nearly 40% of the task. Approximately 80% of changesets made with our #hashtag were validated without error; 15% required very minor corrections (mostly squaring building edges), and 5% were severely corrected or deleted. Representatives from the following organizations were in attendance: University of Belize, University of Quintana Roo, YouthMappers, Jamaica National Spatial Data Management Branch, University of Technology Jamaica, Mico University College Jamaica, NERGIST, National Water Commission (Jamaica), Mines and Geology Division (Jamaica), Land Information Center (Belize), National Land Agency (Jamaica), National Works Agency (Jamaica).

Colombia: Leveraging Government and Academia Partnerships to Activate Pilot Projects A longstanding formal agreement between The National Mapping Institute in Colombia, IGAC, and the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia (Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia, UPTC) was set up to provide graduate courses in geography and spatial analysis technical training to geographers at IGAC. It also provided career placement of graduates from UPTC to government agencies in Colombia. This agreement (and working relationship between UPTC and IGAC) provided a unique opportunity to offer training in VGI. The intent was to provide dialogue and opportunities for implementing VGI activities within Colombian Government agencies. The intern for the VGI project facilitated a series of two workshops

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OpenStreetMap (OSM) and YouthMappers are the dominant Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI) networks worldwide. All of their data is free and open. on Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and YouthMappers for students and faculty at the UPTC. This was done to encourage UPTC students and faculty, as well as attendees from other institutions, to consider joining the very active OSM and YouthMappers networks. The workshops increased the university students’ familiarity with open-source mapping tools used for VGI, namely, iD Editor for OpenStreetMap (OSM) and KoBo Toolbox. Examples of VGI and YouthMappers projects were shared by the YouthMappers regional ambassador. The workshop recordings can be viewed and shared via the YouthMappers’ YouTube channel and the Resource Library as resources for Spanishspeaking students and faculty at other institutions. The Colombian Agricultural Rural Planning Unit collaborated with the VGI intern to develop a project, titled: “How to Incorporate VGI in the Official Cartographies of Agricultural Landscapes of Colombia: A Methodology Developed for the Rural Agricultural Planning Unit.” Due to time constraints, VGI participants will wait until the second phase of this project to participate.


Students gather en masse to remotely map visible features from satellite imagery, like roads and buildings, convening “mapathons” to quickly fill in needed open spatial data. Above, George Washington University students hold a mapathon to kick off a YouthMappers data campaign.

Dominican Republic: From the Ground up—Developing VGI and Spatial Data Infrastructure in Parallel Tracks The relatively recent launching of the Dominican Republic’s Instituto Geográfico Nacional José Joaquín Hungría Morell in 2014, combined

YouthMappers . . . can demonstrate the power of involving youth in national efforts at open data that could improve official cartographies.

with the emerging development and usage of geospatial applications on Hispaniola, provided an opportunity for the interns to focus on developing awareness of VGI for both government officials and university students. The following four workshops were presented virtually in Spanish to a variety of government and academia geographers: Información Geográfica Voluntaria (VGI), Youth Mappers: Usos y Beneficios, YouthMappers: Como

Usar OSM, and lastly, YouthMappers: Cómo Realizar un Mapaton. These presentations were hosted and created to inform individuals and groups in the Dominican Republic on VGI, YouthMappers, OSM, and HOT. The presentations for these workshops were accompanied by scripts, instructions and other necessary material to properly convey information and provide the institution with material they can

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 29


easily understand and use in future workshops.

update the local alternative geographic names for

National Geographic Institute Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi (IGAC) piloted VGI projects for crowdsourcing geographic name information in 2008, but these efforts were suspended due to issues with data quality. The technicians working with the data were not able to identify a successful method for validating the data before adding them to official datasets. Thus, IGAC now receives geographic name updates solely from municipal governments and does not operate a system for collecting updates directly from citizens. Currently, the capital city of Bogotá uses a public application Bogotá Cambia to update geographic names. If Bogotá Cambia is successful, IGAC may consider using a public application to update geographic names for the entire country modelled after Bogotá Cambia. If the application can be built to integrate updates to OpenStreetMap, the data will be available to all citizens and all users. Building these elements

locations and physical features. In Colombia, the

into a project may incentivize collaboration.

Developing a YouthMappers chapter at a prominent university will complement these efforts to broaden awareness on the topics, including the uses, benefits, and limitations of VGI, crowdsourcing, and OSM, for the upcoming careers of geographers, both in academia and government agencies. YouthMappers can host Mapathons in order to educate and display the uses of OSM and humanitarian mapping. It can also demonstrate the power of involving youth in national efforts at open data that could improve official cartographies.

Incentives and Drivers A common theme throughout the interviews with government agencies focused on the need to

Above is an image of INEGI’s Participatory Cartography process to validate volunteered geographic data for a road classification in the City of Pachuca de Soto, Hidalgo, Mexico.

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Panama Case Study: Quarantine during Covid-19 Launches Need for VGI Application for Updating Geographic Names Panama has a wide range of stakeholders in academia and government agencies. This presents

A wealth of skills and experience in traditional sourcing of spatial data by experts, but limited engagement with the public

Many organizations collecting spatial data, but little collaboration

a multitude of challenges. Many organizations

Pilot VGIS projects that engage multiple parties to deliver tangible benefits

A growing interest in how the collection and analysis of volunteered spatial data can complement existing spatial data infrastructure

produce geographic data, yet so few collaborate by sharing data or incorporating crowdsourced data. For example, Panama’s official geographic institute, Tommy Guardia, has the cartography expertise, but lacks the resources to collect data extensively and intensively. YouthMappers has experience in mobilizing volunteers to collect data but expressed the need for more training to maintain the quality

Figure 4 above, shows crossroads of opportunities for VGI data integration with official geographic information in Panama.

of data collected and to utilize more advanced tools and techniques. With so many diverse stakeholders and challenges, it is no surprise that data nomenclature emerges as a major obstacle to VGI in Panama. Different government organizations use different data formats, platforms, and even contradicting

have multiple names. Updating this complex data platform requires money, effort, and personnel to develop concerted efforts to standardize nomenclature. Due to Covid-19, the government mandated

attributes for the same objects. This disorganization

quarantine prohibited the ability for government

hampers basic operations like merging across official

officials to accomplish field work to verify geographic

datasets. Because of this, it is difficult to integrate

names. After the research intern demonstrated

additional volunteer work into official data. Most

a Python program that uses volunteer data from

interestingly, the problems that prohibit VGI are

Open Data Kit (ODK) to pinpoint inconsistencies in

the same as those that collaboration through VGI

official street data, staff at Tommy Guardia took the

might be able to solve. A VGI pilot project would

initiative to implement the process. What started

begin bridging the communication gap between

out as a small idea grew to engage the attention and

government and other stakeholders. One example

collaboration of the institution’s senior members,

is street names in Panama. One street might have

such as the director of the technology department.

an official name differing from its actually used

The University of Panama’s YouthMappers were

name. Official data did not contain names for 272 of

invited to engage in the project’s user workshops

the 613 streets in a pilot project zone. Other streets

which led to collaboration on a VGI-to-official-

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 31


dataset project. Participants were willing and determined to continue the project long-term. Moreover, members across both the geographic institution and YouthMappers demonstrated the capacity to further develop the project. They proposed many improvements and internalized the ODK and Python framework through documentation and workshops. Most remarkably, this progress happened all within the span of two months. The incentives for official participants included updating data at a reduced cost while integrating local knowledge into the geographic names. The incentives for volunteers included the opportunity to focus efforts on something that would be directly used and fill a national need.

The image above shows an example from the Open Data Kit used by volunteers to collect street name data for the Panama VGI pilot project.

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Jamaica: How the NERGIST Model for Disaster Relief Training for the Caribbean Activates Greater Needs for VGI The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is a regional inter-governmental agency comprised of 19 countries collaborating for integrated and proactive approach for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The nineteen countries are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Under this sphere, Jamaica is the leading country in terms of GIS training and disaster management because of their innovative NERGIST volunteers employed during hurricanes and other natural disasters. The main driver for use of OSM and other VGI data sources by the NERGIST team in Jamaica occurs when Jamaica, specifically the NSDMB Branch, provides GIS and disaster response training for the CDEMA nations. Many of the smaller Caribbean nations do not have publicly available official GIS data to be shared with other nations to perform emergency response during a national disaster, such as hurricanes and flood events. These training programs have also increased awareness and access to VGI and open data. Websites and software like Natural Earth, MapCruzin, Google Earth, and sometimes OpenStreetMap (OSM) have been used to teach different organizations across the Caribbean comprehension in GIS tools. In such cases, the incentive to be able to respond to frequent natural disasters is a driver for possible VGI-official collaboration.


Champions need multilevel support within a government institution so that they can acquire the needed resources, incorporate the changes in processing methodology, and ensure long-term commitment to the project.

in Mexico and United States Geological Survey (USGS) in the United States (Korris, Niknami, McCartney 2017).

Mexico Case Study: Participatory Cartography at INEGI Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) is a public government agency with technical and management autonomy. It is responsible for collecting statistical census data and geographic information. In a 2011 UN General Assembly, Mexico was among the first eight governments to endorse

Partnerships and Role of Champions Successful collaboration involving innovative methods requires dedicated champions from each of the participating organizations. These dedicated champions do the following things: ensure communication flows between the different entities, find solutions to problems, adapt to changes in methodology, and motivate personnel and volunteers to collaborate. Champions need multilevel support within a government institution so that they can acquire the needed resources, incorporate the changes in processing methodology, and ensure long-term commitment to the project. Success within the volunteer community requires champions, organizational structure between the volunteers, and near-term benefits such as visible use of data. Within the Americas, universities offer one such organizational structure for volunteers to incorporate the OSM technical methodologies to collect data. The challenge is to initiate dialog between government institutions and universities. This methodology has been successful within INEGI

the Open Government Declaration. This launched the Open Government Partnership (OGP) which reinforced INEGI’s open data policy for free public access to the government’s geographic data. Per the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2020 Open Government Data Review of Mexico, the government has focused policy and programs on many ideas. One is to encourage government institutions to provide data freely to the public and to access the value of the data for public good. The Mexican government is supportive of a VGI ecosystem. Mexico has built skills across user communities, harnessed open data for a data-driven entrepreneurial economy, activated public officials and invested towards a data-driven public sector. The research intern conducted research and interviews with key INEGI personnel. This led to several important factors that facilitated better understanding of the successes and learning opportunities for implementing crowdsourced geographic information into INEGI’s official data. Several high level leaders at INEGI have an interest in VGI geographic data and have brought forth

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 33


The need for integrating geographic knowledge and public communication is acute at the community scale. This is one principle of CentroGeo, a scientific think-tank founded by the director of geography at Mexico’s national geographic institute. different approaches to lead and build champions within INEGI. One approach has incorporated a consultation position with a leading OSM group called GeoChicas. This group focuses on feminist issues. It is largely and exclusively active in Latin America and seeks visibility. It can speak for the data needs of their organization (and others like it) and identify opportunities for the public utility of INEGI’s data. The current Director of Geography at INEGI originally founded the CentroGeo scientific think tank. CentroGeo focuses on the need for integrating geographic knowledge and communication in the country from the community scale. The researchers do this by applying contextualized science and public participation at the core of nearly every project. These two approaches have continued to foster ongoing mid-level efforts at INEGI. One example of public participation is the Participatory Cartography project of INEGI, which is in its sixth year of life. The project was initially proposed by high and mid-level leadership.

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Participatory Cartography allows and invites the public to suggest updates to places. This may include updating their official names or changing their use designations. Participatory Cartography has remained housed at and fully maintained by INEGI since its beginning. The earliest obstacle was that of outreach. The project was in the hands of technically specialized professionals who were (understandably) not well-versed in marketing and outreach. It was difficult for them to gain lone participants from the citizenry, as there was not a culture of citizen science to work with. And so, community service agreements were drawn with universities close to headquarters. Together they organized Mapathons, complete with prizes. Students, with the reward of community service hours, continue to be the largest citizen contributors to the project. Participatory Cartography’s INEGIuniversity relationship was replicated in INEGI state offices to build collaboration with locally qualified universities. The process includes state offices reviewing and transferring the data collected to headquarters. INEGI also experimented with several other nontraditional data sources, including georeferenced Twitter, in which content is disregarded. The goal is to identify areas of activity where INEGI data does not exist, which state personnel can field-verify.

Colombia Case Study: Rural Agricultural Planning Unit The Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural Agricultural Planning Unit (UPRA) is tasked with completing three things. One is a census of agricultural crops planted. Another is estimates of crop yields. The third is market availability. UPRA is also piloting projects to incorporate the agricultural landscape approach into land use planning.


and Mapathons were held to train UPRA’s staff and university students in the use of the OSM mapping CentroGeo is the academic institution of the Center for Research in Geography and Geomatics, funded by CONACYT. CentroGeo focuses on academic research, technological innovation, and dissemination of knowledge of geography and geomatics. INEGI stands for Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. It is is the official public agency responsible for the policies, standards, and coordination of the national system of statistical and geographic information for Mexico. INEGI collects and disseminates information concerning the country’s natural resources, population, and economic activities that support informed decisions for the benefit of Mexico.

tools. When Covid-19 protocols allow travel to rural areas of the country, several YouthMappers chapters in Colombia plan to continue to assist UPRA staff as they build a VGI component into this project. Having a champion as the lead geographer for UPRA ensures project continuity.

Concerns of Quality: How Processes of Engagement Matter Engaging collaboration between government agencies and volunteers is more complex than the current model where government agencies work with geospatial data clients. Champions are needed to foster innovative methods of collaboration. This coupled with the government agency’s willingness to experiment and share data is critical for success. Other factors such as providing incentives, like

Accurately completing this census for the entire country is an enormous challenge. Previously, the Planning Unit of UPRA expressed interest in crowdsourcing VGI data. The scientists recognize the importance of capturing local geographic knowledge in its efforts to survey agricultural

financial support, academic acknowledgment, or access to government data during a natural disaster provide greater opportunities for successful engagement between volunteers and government officials.

The research intern and lead geographer from

Jamaica Case Study: NERGIST and disaster relief training for the Caribbean

the Planning Unit collaboratively developed a

The National Emergency Response Geographic

deliverable that provided tools and standards which

Information System Team (NERGIST) could be

incorporate VGI data into UPRA’s agricultural census

considered a hybrid between official government

mapping project and the agricultural landscape

and volunteered geographic information process of

approach efforts. Additionally, virtual workshops

engagement. The majority of the GIS professionals

communities. However, most scientists lacked the software and expertise needed for collecting crowdsourced remote and field mapping data.

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 35


are government employees that volunteer to be deployed during a national disaster. They volunteer to collect real-time local data either in the field or by using satellite imagery which utilizes standard operating procedures that are defined per the needs of emergency responders. Volunteers receive prior certification training. This allows them to facilitate their identification and quantification of damage to structures. It also enables them to record the extent of the disaster, such as flood levels, earthquake damage, and stability of house structures. They are focused on efficient disaster assessment that is coordinated and comprehensive. Based on the disaster (such as flooding or hurricane damage), the data themes, standards, and collection methods are defined. This allows for efficient, coordinated, and comprehensive disaster assessment for decision makers. Visualization tools such as maps, and internet mapping tools (for example, online dashboards) are made available to support national response efforts. The raw geospatial data is shared between the agencies, but not freely available to the public or private sector.

36

The team chooses to use the term “participatory science” rather than “citizen science” (ciencia ciudadana) because some of the VGI projects’ participants are not technically citizens of Colombia due to political reasons; therefore, “participatory science” is a more inclusive term. Colombia Case Study: A Successful Participatory Science Approach During the last few decades, IGAC has pioneered a process of allowing free and open access to

NERGIST utilizes VGI data, within the sphere of GIS training and disaster management, for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). Not only does NERGIST provide GIS training, NERGIST volunteers are frequently deployed to other island nations during disasters to collect, record, and provide damage assessment data to policy makers. Many of these Caribbean island nations do not have easily accessible or current GIS data. This data may include information on roads, ports, bridges, structures, and government assistance facilities. NERGIST preloads their GIS applications with VGI data from various sources. They do this for both ease of assessing damage and for situational awareness and safety. The sources

geospatial data for the public. This includes web

include: OSM, Google Earth, and Natural Earth.

Colombia has various environmental and research

based visualization-only of their datasets and limited downloads of small and large scale data. During the time of this research and internship case studies, the geospatial data at IGAC was also shared between government agencies as part of the ICDE and sold to the public as proprietary data. In early 2021, a novel platform in Colombia opened up IGAC’s geospatial data to be freely offered to the public via internet downloads. Nevertheless in 2020, IGAC was not directly involved in any VGI pilot projects and was not interested in initiating one for this study. This was due, in part, to a previous failed attempt in 2008. Similar to the Dominican Republic,


Above is a photo of a Keel-billed toucan, a type of bird found in tropical jungles from Mexico to Colombia. Applications like “eBird” help scientists locate this species.

entities that have pioneered citizen or participatory

biodiversity on a national level. They primarily use

science projects, yet these are entities supported by

the applications iNaturalist and eBird to collect

the government agencies.

biogeographical data.

Humboldt Institute (Instituto de Investigación de

The team has two approaches to participatory

Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt) is an

science: first, in rural areas, they sometimes employ

independent non-regulatory research institute of the

a no/low tech approach due to lack of access to cell

executive branch of the Colombian government. It falls

phones. One example of a VGI project completed

under the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable

in a rural region is the participatory monitoring of

Development. To a great extent, the Humboldt Institute collects crowdsourced data and integrates it into official datasets. The institute manages its VGI projects both through the SiB Colombia (Sistema de Información sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia) and via its participatory science (ciencia participativa) team. The team has grown from one person in 2017 to ten in 2020. The team chooses to use the term

tropical dry forest in Cuenca río Cañas (Monitoreo comunitario de la biodiversidad en el bosque seco tropical). The second approach uses technology. The team has worked on species inventories with rural communities in Antioquia to boost ecotourism using technical tools such as iNaturalist and eBird. Humboldt Institute staff described several

“participatory science” rather than “citizen science”

challenges needed to improve collection and

(ciencia ciudadana) because some of the VGI

validation of crowdsourced biogeographical

projects’ participants are not technically citizens

data. They also provided recommendations. The

of Colombia due to political reasons; therefore,

participatory science team prioritizes understanding

“participatory science” is a more inclusive term. The

wider sociopolitical contexts when implementing

participatory science team focuses on monitoring

VGI projects, as rural communities need to primarily

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 37


... the scientific community has found VGI to be an advantage since people living in the region are able to participate in data collection on a daily basis.

public have reported sightings of species that had not been documented for a couple decades such as Comadreja colombiana2 and Paujil colombiana3. For proponents of participatory science, VGI represents an important potential point of intersection between traditional science and local knowledge. Yet tension exists as scientists and traditionally trained practitioners may be more reluctant to see participatory contributions as valid. This is because it emphasizes the participation of volunteers without formal scientific training. Overall, the scientific community has found VGI to be an advantage since people living in the region are able to participate in data collection on a daily basis. Formally trained biologists visit the same locations over the course of many years and are time- limited to the number of areas they can survey.

Mexico Case Study:

Datasets help identify critically endangered species and are highly beneficial to conservation efforts.

focus on addressing their basic necessities. When communities do participate in data collection of bird species, researchers recommend including photographs to assure accurate identification. The datasets of species sightings are becoming more geographically diverse, which enhance the modeling of distributions of different species, including endangered and critically endangered species. These data are highly beneficial from a conservation science and policy perspective. For example, there have been several instances in which members of the

38

Interest at mid to high-level leadership within INEGI for VGI projects combined with spaces for open conversation, such as the Viernes de Café, have pioneered innovative processes of engagement within different levels of management. The Viernes de Café allows the entire headquarters staff at INEGI to gather together to present recent work and new ideas in a relaxed setting. Normally, implementing methods such as VGI and community participation activities requires lengthy planning and additional resources. However, in this setting, potential champions of VGI projects can gage management’s willingness to undertake and support experimental crowdsource methods for data collection. Discussing resource needs and probable outcomes between different levels of management fosters support for the possible methodology and technical issues that may arise in implementing innovative ideas.


Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, our participatory research needed to be done virtually. Our interns were agile and quickly implemented the use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom to carry out their research.

Conclusion Institutional Momentum as a Barrier to Change and Concerns about Work Processes An important challenge of incorporating VGI geospatial data into official geographic information is the existing institutional structures, policies and momentum that are ever present barriers to change of any kind. In this case, it is no different that spatial data policies and practices result in resistance to experiment with new approaches. This is especially true during a pandemic. The majority of government

Data policies and existing infrastructures exacerbate this momentum against change and require a strategic, structural effort to shift in order to enable widespread use of VGI. have experience. Modifying operational procedures to accommodate data inputs from outside the agency requires additional skills and expertise. Due to the pandemic, much of our ways of

agencies that interacted with the case study

working were needed to be done virtually. For

research were working remotely at home. Already

instance, we had to undertake the two core

this was a major disruption. It was a slowdown to

requirements of the internship case studies through

accomplish their work agenda. Launching initial VGI

online communication. Our interviews with both

projects within a government agency represents a

government officials and volunteer mapping

significant deviation from the more traditional data

participants were done via the online applications,

collection methodologies with which agency staff

such as, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Additionally,

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 39


our jointly agreed upon deliverable that would benefit the government agency was conducted virtually. Many of the countries requested virtual training sessions. They wanted to know the definition of VGI and they wanted training on how they could update OSM data. Government officials and university geographers were invited to these trainings to facilitate collaboration between the national geography institutes and the OSM and YouthMappers communities.

As documented in the case studies, the scientific community has been amenable to incorporating various volunteer activities within their participant science investigations.

For the countries where the geographic data are sold and institutions rely on the sales of their data for

consuming validation processes would greatly

funding, converting to a model where volunteered

facilitate collaboration between government officials

geographic data is incorporated into their official

and volunteers. These protocols need to be jointly

datasets presents a dilemma for their cost analysis

developed between the government geographers

model. Data policies and existing infrastructures

and volunteer mappers. Collaboration for the use

exacerbate this momentum against change and

of similar data nomenclature, software formats,

require a strategic, structural effort to shift in order

and computer platforms between the government

to enable widespread use of VGI. This also presents

institutions and VGI participants would greatly

a perceived loss of responsibility for government

facilitate the data integration process. Preparation

employees, which produces the fear of a loss of

of a designed platform to send to citizens based on a

employment.

particular natural disaster or emergency event where

Even when agency staff believe that VGI would enhance their agency’s datasets, they may lack

volunteers could collect the information in a more standardized way would limit collection errors.

familiarity with software and methodologies for collecting data. They may also lack methodologies for validating crowdsourced data and integrating these data into public datasets. Many times, geographers within the government institutions were unaware of the amount and level of accuracy of VGI data stored in robust systems, such as OSM

Does providing public access to official geographic

for their respective countries. Upgrading skills

information facilitate greater opportunities to

to accommodate open data and volunteer work

integrate VGI data into the official geographic

systems would still require time, investment and

data process?

commitment, even if government workers are not

Providing free and open access to government

doing the mapping. Providing well documented standards and protocols for the collection of VGI to alleviate time

40

Observations on Access to Government Geospatial Data vs. Availability of VGI Open Data

produced geospatial information builds user communities that depend on the data for many things. These include the following: research,


In Mexico, INEGI has provided their data free and open to the public. Here, the case studies showed innovative and successful approaches to integrate volunteered geographic information into their official geospatial databases. Releasing the government geospatial datasets to the public increased the use and development of geographic information in both the public and private sectors, driving a greater need for timely and accurate data. Open discussions between high-level and mid-level leadership within INEGI combined with outreach to communities and universities to pilot VGI projects led to the development of the participatory cartography project. At first the project was in the hands of technically specialized professionals who were also, understandably, not well-versed in marketing and outreach. Therefore, it was critical for INEGI to focus on liaison skills to develop partnerships infrastructure and business applications, realtime maps, emergency services, and educational purposes. As communities access the government data and integrate it into their applications, local

with communities of volunteers. The collaboration between INEGI and volunteers could synthesize the needs of the communities with the technical requirements from INEGI.

users may discover inaccuracies and incomplete

As for the case of IGAC in Colombia, it is

data for their geographic area. There may be data

too early to assess the opportunities that may

theme voids, data errors, and out-of-date data which

develop from allowing the public to have free

restricts reliability and use of government data.

and open access to official geospatial datasets.

Progressive government agencies (that produce the data) have found collaborative approaches to improve their data. They do this to ensure a

As documented in the case studies, the scientific community has been amenable to incorporating various volunteer activities within their participant

high quality with limited government resources.

science investigations. Documenting and sharing

The USGS in the United States implemented

the experiences gained by the scientific community

their National Map Corps. They collaborated with

concerning the types of applications, standards and

universities and citizen volunteers to correct and

training needs, and quality control and reliability

update the human made structures. This allowed

of volunteer data would be useful in developing

USGS to provide accurate and authoritative data for

collaborative projects between IGAC and the OSM

the National Map program.

community in Colombia.

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 41


Identifying and rewarding active or potential champions in the government, scientific, and OSM communities could lead to new pilot projects between IGAC and OSM. This would ensure greater success in the initial phases of integrating VGI data into Colombia’s official geographic databases. Launching a small pilot project that is successful facilitates the road towards institution change in the long run, instead of launching a large project that may fail in certain areas. Building collaboration between champions from both the institutions and the volunteers helps ensure a more successful project. Is it correct to assume that the need and availability of VGI data would be greater in countries where the public does not have open and free access to the official geographic datasets from the government? For countries such as Belize and the Dominican Republic, where citizens have little to no access to geospatial data, there appears to be a much less robust VGI community. The lack of exposure, experience, and training to use geospatial information undermines the incentive to develop a citizen based VGI community. Countries such as the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica have a highly developed tourist industry focused on natural beauty and sustainable environmental practices. Here, NGOs, expatriates, and tourists have developed their own VGI user communities to produce data for their applications and mapping activities. Promoting partnerships and supporting champions within both the government agencies and the VGI communities could help in three ways. First, it would build opportunities to enhance the government geospatial data. Second, it could collaboratively augment educational and research applications for monitoring environmental

42

Advantages and Disadvantages of VGI Data in Panama Geographically Panama is situated at the crossroads of Central and South America with global strategic significance of the management of the Panama Canal. Maintaining the ecosystems and natural environment surrounding the watersheds in the canal region are critical resources for sustaining sufficient water resources for ships to cross the canal. Various government agencies and private sector organizations collect geographic information for their specific needs, such as environmental data for the canal, yet are rarely shared. The YouthMappers chapter at the University of Panama is very active in developing expertise in crowdsource mapping that could be harnessed for the benefit of Panamanians.


Advantages for VGI in Panama

Challenges for VGI in Panama

Panama has a diverse range of producers of spatial data with different skill sets. These include government institutions, universities, firms, and independent volunteers.

Because spatial data is expensive to produce, there is a professional interest to keep it private.

Many producers of spatial data are willing and enthusiastic about the concept of VGI spatial data.

Political agendas can quickly change the work of government institutions, making long-term VGI projects difficult to complete.

Small VGI pilot projects can work well in Panama because they engage volunteers in educational experiences, reduce the costs of collecting spatial data, and enable the collaborating organizations to leverage each other’s strengths.

There is a lack of public awareness of VGI and spatial data in general, so finding volunteers is difficult. The lack of collaboration between different producers of spatial data leads to nomenclature/data standardization problems that impede meaningful volunteer contributions.

...when NERGIST volunteers are deployed to other Caribbean nations to support emergency response activities, the volunteers rely on VGI data produced by OSM. Therefore, the awareness and value of VGI data is increasing.

geospatial data is shared between government agencies, but not readily available to the general public and academia. Therefore, the Jamaican OSM community is active at producing data for citizen applications (which are not supported by NERGIST) during a natural disaster. Data products, not the actual datasets (produced by NERGIST to support a

and tourist interests. Third, the partnerships and support of champions could increase the possibility of the use of geospatial information for the technical and economic growth of these countries.

data. Jamaica developed

Jamaica has been a leader in geospatial data acquisition, technical applications, and educational benefits of geospatial

few organizations outside of

highly trained human resource expertise in GIS. Due to the need for government agencies to sell their geospatial data at a high cost to recoup government funds to update the data, the government have access to the official geographic

natural disaster) are provided to the general public after the disaster. Yet when NERGIST volunteers are deployed to other Caribbean nations to support emergency response activities, the volunteers rely on VGI data produced by OSM. Therefore, the awareness and value of VGI data is increasing.

data. Government produced

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 43


Recap of Recommendations 01

In order to raise awareness of opportunities, we recommend to systematically introduce major public agencies to the opportunities for VGI using successful examples from the region.

02

In order to address the challenge of relevance and inclusion, we recommend that despite pandemic disruptions, focusing on place names and local geographic knowledge from the field will be a critical component for future successful joint efforts.

03

In order to address the challenge of leadership, we recommend identifying and empowering local champions for official cartographic and VGI collaboration.

04

In order to address the barriers of implementation and leverage opportunities for success, we recommend that future efforts be tailored to the individual needs, capacity, and opportunities present in each national context.

05

In order to accelerate adoption in ways that are most promising and equitable, we recommend sharing experiences and best practices across nations of the Americas through institutional frameworks that are invested in spatial data infrastructure and open mapping, as well as organizations that promote overall security and resilience of the hemisphere.

These findings and insights expand our knowledge about the role of VGI for official cartographies and peak our interest in learning more, especially regarding the potential for evidence-based decision-making. We are grateful to the participating students, academic faculty, government officials, and NGO partners for helping us lay this foundation for building a community of practice interested in reducing these barriers and expanding these opportunities. We look forward to the next steps in sharing and co-creating knowledge on specific applications, such as hazards, development, and infrastructure services.

44


Next Steps for Moving Forward Collaborating directly with the National Geography Institutes within PAIGH provides a unique advantage. It allows for the awareness, relevance, and experience gained in this research project to continue developing pilot projects between the VGI community and the government institutes. The PAIGH organization offers small technical assistance grants for select seed projects with an emphasis on multidisciplinary and multi-country participation. The findings from this research provides a solid foundation for the countries within Central America and the Caribbean to share successful experiences with crowdsource data applications. The model developed by Jamaica for emergency response activities could easily be replicated. Additionally, lessons learned within INEGI in Mexico to build institutional support for engaging with different levels of management and GIS technicians within the government to support participatory cartographic projects is invaluable. Several countries expressed interest in building community participation to correct street and place names, such as the technical application developed for the Panama case study. The online training in VGI may spawn new champions and partnerships between the VGI communities and government institutions. YouthMappers chapters are active in most of the Central American countries and many South American countries. Building awareness, training, and confidence in VGI data through university based YouthMappers chapters can provide a bottom up approach for university graduates who may take government positions. This would enable these graduates to promote, initiate, build confidence, and support innovative VGI projects within their government agencies.

Finally, we encourage allocation of awareness, efforts, and resources to incorporate opportunities for low-cost, high-participatory spatial data improvements. Innovation and new initiatives to advance future priorities of government cartographic agencies, such as the integration of census data with spatial data infrastructure, could benefit from strategically examining the role of VGI and local knowledge in order to realize benefits for improving responsiveness to humanitarian, disaster, development, and public service needs.

Funding Acknowledgements Provided by National Science Foundation Award #1907123, 5/19-03/22 (PI, Dr. Patricia Solís; Co-PI Jean Parcher Wintemute, Co-PI Nancy Aguirre. “How the Crowdsourced Spatial Data Revolution is Being Used to Complement Official Data” under the Science Technology and Society program, with contributions to NSF’s Big Ideas, Harnessing the Data Revolution for 21st Century Science & Engineering. https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/ showAward?AWD_ID=1907123 YouthMappers is supported by USAID Award #AID-OAA-G-15-00007 and Cooperative Agreement Number: 7200AA18CA00015 via the GeoCenter; and by anonymous donor contributions; Arizona State University is the fiscal administrative lead; co-founding institutions are Texas Tech University, The George Washington University, and West Virginia University. www.youthmappers.org Pan American Institute of Geography and History for their logistical and institutional support. www.ipgh.org

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 45


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Appendix

About the Authors Jean Parcher Wintemute is currently the Vice President of the Geography Commission of the

Terms

Pan American Institute of Geography and History

Cartography: the art and science of representing

the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and

a geographical area in a format such as a map.

with the Department of the Interior (DOI). Within

Crowdsourcing: the process of collecting information by enlisting the services of a large group of people, either paid or volunteers, usually using the internet. Geography: the study of the physical features of the earth and the human activities such as the distribution of population, resources, and land use and their effects on the natural environment.

(PAIGH). Ms. Wintemute has had a long career with

the DOI, she was in charge of the management of the “Land Cover for Climate” project. Previously, Ms. Wintemute held the position of International Program Manager of the USGS Remote Sensing program including the USGS Landsat satellite system. She has held other positions in the USGS, including science lead for the US-Mexico Border Environmental and Health Initiative; and geospatial liaison between the federal, state and Texas

Resilient Communities: communities that have

communities for geospatial data. Jean Parcher

developed and implemented processes to withstand,

Wintemute holds a Master’s Degree in Geography

adapt to, and recover from adversity.

from the University of Texas and was a volunteer

Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI):

for the United States Peace Corps in Costa Rica,

the process and data collected by volunteers using

working with the Bribri indigenous people.

web based mapping systems and open source

Patricia Solís, PhD, is co-founder and director

satellite imagery to collect and update geographic information for free and open use.

of YouthMappers, a consortium of student-led humanitarian mapping chapters on approximately

Mapathon: a coordinated mapping event attended

300 chapters across university campuses in 60+

normally by volunteers either in person or virtually

countries. The program creates and uses open,

online to create geographic information using web

volunteered spatial data in collaboration with USAID,

based mapping systems and open source satellite

including projects to combat malaria in Africa,

imagery to improve geographic coverage over

flooding in East Asia, hurricanes and earthquakes in

specific areas and to help disaster risk assessment

Latin America and the Caribbean, rural electrification

and energy management.

in West Africa and heat related deaths in Arizona.

Open Data Kit (ODK): open source software for collecting, managing, and using data in areas lacking internet access. ODK can be used offline (in remote areas) by collecting data with mobile devices which can later upload the data to computer servers when

Solís is Executive Director of the Knowledge

internet connectivity is available.

environmental threats. She is an Associate Research

Exchange for Resilience at Arizona State University, an interdisciplinary effort to link multi-sector community needs with research innovations around resilience to economic shocks, social disruption, and

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 47


48

Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at ASU. Her disciplinary expertise centers on the application of participatory geospatial technologies for humanitarian, environment and development needs. Solís also serves a diplomatic appointment as President of the Geography Commission of the Organization of American States PanAmerican Institute of Geography and History and on the Fulbright Roster of Experts.

Students

Nancy Aguirre, PhD, is Leader of the Geography Commission Research Committee of the Organization of American States Pan American Institute of Geography and History. Her expertise centers on hybrid geographies and Latin America. She was Deputy Director of Geography of the National Geographic Institute “Agustín Codazzi” of Colombia; lead researcher of the Socio-ecological Laboratory at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Research on Biological Resources; Vice-Chair of the Outreach and Membership Committee for South America of the Association for Global Spatial Data Infrastructure; and co-lead for deliverables of the Group on Earth Observation GEOBON Working Groups. She is research affiliate to the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia Research Group on Geography and Land Use Planning, and the Chilean University Bernardo O’Higgins’ Observatory for Disaster Risk. She earned her PhD in Geography and the Environment from the University of Texas at Austin, and her MSc in Applied Geomorphological and Engineering Geological Surveys from the ITC-University of Twente, The Netherlands.

Mason Jones, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

Adele Birkenes, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY Calvin Zhang, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL Daniel Council, Ball State University, Muncie, IN Emily Wulf, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA Enith K. Lay Soler, State University of NY (SUNY), Buffalo, NY

John Sawyer McCarley, Clemson University, Clemson, SC Vivian Arriaga, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Hosts The countries and their collaborating organizations that agreed to collaborate with the research case studies were: MEXICO Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) is the official public agency responsible for the policies, standards, and coordination of the national system of statistical and geographic information for Mexico. INEGI collects and disseminates information concerning the country’s natural resources, population, and economic activities that support informed decisions for the benefit of Mexico. CONACYT, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technología is Mexico’s equivalent to the U.S. National Science Foundation, focusing on the promotion of scientific and technological advancement by setting government policies on these matters and offering scholarships for postgraduate studies.


CentroGeo is the Center for Research in Geospatial Information Science of the Network of Research Centers, funded by CONACYT. CentroGeo focuses on academic research, technological innovation, and dissemination of knowledge of geography and geomatics. BELIZE Land Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources is the national institute for geographic information, remote sensing, and environmental information pertaining to the needs of the country. COSTA RICA Instituto Geográfico Nacional, Registro Nacional is the official scientific and technical national institute for geographic and cartographic information needed for the production of the official geospatial and cartographic maps for Costa Rica. PANAMA Instituto Nacional Geográfico Tommy Guardia, Autoridad Nacional de Administración de Tierras is the nation’s specialized expert in photogrammetry, hydrography, geography, cartography, geophysics, and geospatial information for to produce the base mapping for Panama. COLOMBIA The Colombian National Geography Institute, Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi, (IGAC) has been a leader in mapping and geospatial technical training for the South American region and manages the spatial data infrastructure for Colombia. It is in charge of producing the official basic cartographic and geographic data, national cadastral database, soils inventory, and geographic

The Infraestructura Colombiana de Datos Espaciales (ICDE) is a platform which contains over 800 cartographic and cadastral datasets collected and updated by approximately 19 institutes that are official ICDE organizations. Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia (UPTC) is one of the most prestigious universities in Colombia focused on education, science, and technology with six sites and 21 regional centers for distance learning. Unidad de Planificación Rural Agropecuaria (UPRA) is the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural Agricultural Planning Unit in charge of guiding the public planning policy on territorial management for agricultural uses that contributes to productivity and competitiveness, the legal security of land tenure and the efficient use of rural land. It is tasked with completing a census of agricultural crops planted, estimates of crop yields, and market availability. Sistema de Información sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia (SiB Colombia) is the Biodiversity Information System of Colombia; an initiative that aims to provide free access to information on the country’s biological diversity. It facilitates the online publication of data and information on biodiversity and its access to a wide variety of audiences, supporting the comprehensive management of biodiversity. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Instituto Geográfico Nacional José Joaquín Hungría Morell is responsible for the policies and development of the nation’s geography, cartography, and geodesy needed to produce the base cartographic and geographic information for the Dominican Republic.

research for the country.

Volunteered Mapping and Data Governance in the Americas / 49


JAMAICA National Spatial Data Management Branch, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation coordinates the development and implementation of a national networked geographic information system consisting of spatial data for land related agencies and to develop and provide advice on policy, institutional requirements, legislation and regulations. The National Emergency Response Geographic Information System Team (NERGIST) is a volunteer group of government employees trained and coordinated by the Land Information Council of Jamaica under the National Spatial Data Management Branch (NSDMB) to collect data during natural disasters. It began operations in 2004 and was officially established by a cabinet decision in 2010. NERGIST is managed by the National Spatial Data Management Branch (NSDMB) under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. NERGIST is comprised of GIS certified professionals from various different government ministries, departments, and agencies and volunteers from the National Housing Trust (NHT), National Works Agency (NWA), National Water Commission (NWC), the Agricultural Land Management Division in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and

Agency (CDEMA) is a regional intergovernmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean community comprised of networks of independent emergency units throughout the region. www.cdema.org

Organizations CARICOM: represents the Caribbean Community which is comprised of 20 countries within the Caribbean whom cooperate under the four main pillars of economic integration, foreign policy coordination, human and social development, and security. www.caricom.org Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH) is a specialized organization of the Organization of American States (OAS), originally created in 1928, and later became the scientific and technical specialized organization of the OAS in 1949. The major objectives of PAIGH are to coordinate scientific excellence in the fields of geography, cartography, history, and geophysics within the Americas. PAIGH promotes and funds capacity training, investigative research, and multidisciplinary projects among the 21 member states. www.ipgh.org

Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), among others. During

Organization of American States (OAS) was established in 1948 to achieve regional peace and justice, promote solidarity, and strengthen

a disaster, the NERGIST is based at the National

collaboration within the 35 independent states of the

Emergency Operations Center at the Office of

Americas. The OAS has four main pillars: democracy,

Disaster Preparedness.

human rights, security, and development of which to

Land Information Council (LICJ) was established in

carry out their mission. www.oas.org

1992 and is comprised of over 50 government, quasi-

OXFAM is a global non-profit organization

government, and private sector bodies focused on

dedicated to ending the injustice of poverty by

the coordination and implementation of geographic

empowering people to build better futures for

information for land resource agencies.

themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and

Fisheries, National Land Agency (NLA), Planning

50

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management


support natural disaster assistance. OXFAM was originally founded in 1942 to provide aid to refugees in Greece after World War II. www.oxfam.org/en US Agency for International Development (USAID) is funded by the US government to lead international development and provide humanitarian efforts to reduce poverty and strengthen democratic governance. USAID was created in 1961 by President Kennedy. www.usaid.gov The United States Geological Survey (USGS), the scientific agency of the United States government, provides science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. www.usgs.gov

Volunteer Mapping Organizations YouthMappers is a platform which capitalizes on web-based open geospatial technologies and a global network of universities to cultivate a generation of young leaders to create resilient communities. YouthMappers’ university chapters both work locally and offer collaborative support globally to produce volunteered geographic crowdsourced data needed to address specific development objectives to create new, high quality, localized geospatial data in unmapped places of the world. www.youthmappers.org OpenStreetMap (OSM), launched in 2004, is a worldwide collaborative project to create a free and editable geographic database of the world. OSM is community focused and driven by engaging volunteers with local knowledge to collect and/or update geographic data while adhering to common standards and protocols. www.openstreetmap.org Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is an international team of volunteers dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping protocols. HOT volunteers work together to collect data after a natural disaster to assist in protecting lives and to rebuild sustainable communities to reduce natural disaster risk and vulnerability. www.hotosm.org GeoChicas is comprised of women involved in OpenStreetMap who focus on producing geographic information specific to women’s needs in order to close the gender gap in mapping and produce important information for women.

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To find out more about YouthMappers email: info@youthmappers.org www.youthmappers.org / www.ipgh.org


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