Assessing the fitness of citizens observatories for land cover/ land use mapping and validation purposes

Workshop at the 18th AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science – Geographic information Science as an enabler of smarter cities and communities.

Lisboa, Portugal. Tue, Jun 9, 2015

In addition to our RICHVGI workshop in AGILE 2015, which will be held on June 9, 2015 in Lisbon, we are organizing a hands-on session called “VALID-LAND: Assessing the fitness of citizens observatories for land cover/land use mapping and validation purposes“. We would be delighted to see you joining along with spreading the word.


This workshop will provide exposure to the possibilities of land cover/use mapping from different Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI)-based initiatives including OpenStreetMap, and georeferenced photo sites such as Panoramio, for the purpose of generating land cover/use maps and comparing the results from these diverse VGI initiatives for consistency analysis, quality evaluation and fitness-for-purpose.


There are several collaborative mapping platforms and VGI initiatives that can potentially assist researchers, practitioners and managers to extract land cover/use related information, including OpenStreetMap and a growing number of georeferenced photograph repositories (e.g. the Degree Confluence Project, Flickr, Panoramio, Geograph and Instagram among others. Each of these has its own modality of data collection, data management and interaction with volunteers (users), which cause different types of errors and limitations. The aim of this workshop is to test the consistency/quality of the land cover/use information obtained from different sources of VGI and compare these with land cover and land use from authoritative sources including the Urban Atlas and data from the UK Ordnance Survey.


The planned outcome of the workshop is a peer-reviewed paper containing the results obtained from the workshop. The hands-on sessions will provide the main results for the paper and the last hour of the workshop will be spent discussing the paper outline and action points for workshop participants and organizers.


The area of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is developing at an amazing speed,producing large amounts of data on many subjects, which may be valuable for a variety of applications, some of which were not the primary aim of the projects’ founders. One of these applications is the extraction of land cover/use information, which may be useful for training classifiers and therefore assist in the creation of land cover/use maps, or for their validation. However, the quality and consistency of the information provided by different potential sources of VGI may be different and therefore needs to be compared. The aim of this workshop is to provide hands-on training in working with different sources of VGI (OpenStreetMap, Geo-Wiki, Degrees of Confluence Project and Panoramio) in order to compare the quality and consistency of the resulting land cover information. The workshop will lead to a peer-reviewed publication summarizing the results and provide recommendations for the use of VGI for Land Cover purposes.

Short description of the intended length (half or full day) and the format of the workshop

We propose a full day workshop with the following format:


  • Introductory Lectures
  • Hands-on session:
    • download OpenStreetMap data for regions of interest
    • run customized tool for creating land cover maps (requires GIS software)
    • classify photos from Panoramio, Degrees of Confluence Project and other relevant photo sharing sites
    • compare the land cover map generated from OSM with photos and Geo-Wiki data
    • undertake independent validation of OpenStreetMap-generated land cover map with satellite imagery using LACO-Wiki tool (if time permits)


  • Continuation of hands-on session
  • Discussion of results
  • Discussion of paper outline and actions
Brief statement of the relevance of the workshop for AGILE

VGI and how best to use this increasing source of information is clearly an area of interest to AGILE, both as an organization interested in geographic information science and as one of the topics for the 2015 conference. The workshop will build capacity in working with VGI. It will also lead to advancing the scientific research in this area through the paper that is planned as an outcome of the workshop.

Organizer Committee

Leading AGILE member (or sponsor) and contact person:

Other information

Participants will be required to bring their own laptop with GIS software. Additional information about the GIS software requirements will be provided to the participants prior to the event.
The event is organised in association with TD1202 (Mapping and the citizen sensor).

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