Crowdsourced GIS Data and the Bystander Effect

Crowdsourced GIS DataThere is an internet phenomenon affecting Crowdsourced GIS Data.

Crowdsourced GIS data has been a staple in the online geospatial community for the past decade. When data is crowdsourced, it derives from various third-party contributors. These contributors can range from program users to accredited Universities and even to large corporations. There are various programs and platforms that rely on crowdsourcing. Crowdsource Reporter from ArcGIS is an example of a widely used program and OpenStreetMap from Wiki World is a well-known platform example.

The Benefits of Crowdsourcing Data

It can take a copious amount of data to create a reliable online tool. Aggregating this amount of data takes time, resources, and many, many contributions. There are benefits to having an open forum and crowdsourcing data online.

The primary benefit of online contribution is the reduction in cost. It is virtually free to have users upload and contribute personal data to an open-source. There may be overhead, marketing, and program costs associated with this, but the actual price of crowdsourcing is free.

Other benefits of crowdsourcing include the number of contributions, which can be of a great scale depending on the popularity of the platform. Another benefit is feedback. Users tend to be more open with their feedback on a platform that has the capabilities to contribute and comment.

Diminished Participation or the Bystander Effect with Crowdsourced GIS Data

crowd sourcing gis data

One of the major downfalls of having an online crowdsourcing GIS platform has been seen with the bystander effect.

The effect of diminished participation is called the “bystander effect,” that is when someone knows many people are involved in helping in a situation then they are less likely to want to contribute.” 

The Bystander Effect can also be explained as if there are more people, fewer people will feel obligated to participate. If people are contributing to an online GIS platform, more people will not feel a need to contribute. This is simply because they think ‘someone else will do it, why waste my own time.’

Other Issues with Crowdsourcing Data

There are other issues when it comes to entrusting the masses to provide content for your platform. It can be time-consuming to generate a large enough following to where you can expect the copious amount of data contributions needed to serve the purpose. Also, when you open the site to anyone, you face a lot of risks.

Some users will upload non-factual data thinking it is accurate and others may upload false data maliciously. There can also be some users who will maliciously attack a site by adding corrupt files or phishing links that could harm and target the user base or the site itself. To combat these issues, it can be time-consuming and expensive.

Choose Data That is Trustworthy

To best way to avoid the Bystander Effect or cyber-attacks with crowdsourced GIS data is to choose a trustworthy data source. GeoTel Communications has been collecting and verifying its telecom GIS data since 2001. The company offers the data in GIS format and also can offer fiber maps, cell tower locations, and much more. Contact the experts at GeoTel today and get access to data you can trust!