What are the societal implications of citizen mapping and mapping citizens?

With the emergence of web mapping sites and virtual globe applications (e.g. Google Earth, Bing Virtual Earth, NASA World Wind), the exploration of geographic places near and far has never been easier. Data can be downloaded from these sites to examine the Earth at almost any scale. Similarly, you can download data at the ground level with your smartphone to easily find the ratings of surrounding eateries or location of coffee shops closest to your location. In addition to consuming information available from the web, people are also actively producing, sharing, and volunteering geographic information onto the Internet. Examples of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) include geotagged photographs, wiki-description , or editable map.

VGI provides real-time geographic information that is valuable for decision making and scientific research, including local tourism promotion, community planning, disaster response, habitat restoration and public health monitoring. However, such citizen mapping is different from traditional mapping because mapping citizens: 1) are largely untrained, 2) have no authority and 3) are not motivated by any obvious reward.

The process of designing, implementing, generating and delivering maps on the World Wide Web e.g. Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps

A 3-dimensional representation of the Earth

The creation, assembly, and dissemination of geographic data provided voluntarily by individuals

The process of adding geographical identification (e.g. place name) or spatial coordinates (e.g. latitude and longitude) to various media

A web site that allows visitors to make changes, contributions, or corrections

A compilation of spatial data and related descriptive data

The actual time during which an event takes place

A community or network of citizens who observe and volunteer geographic information for mapping

Giving out an excessive amount of personal information, especially in a way which might be considered inappropriate

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