Using control data to determine the reliability of volunteered geographic information about land cover
journal contributionposted on 05.02.2013, 15:15 by Alexis J. Comber, Linda See, Steffen Fritz, Marijn Van der Velde, Christoph Perger, Giles Foody
There is much interest in using volunteered geographic information (VGI) in formal scientific analyses. This analysis uses VGI describing land cover that was captured using a web-based interface, linked to Google Earth. A number of control points, for which the land cover had been determined by experts allowed measures of the reliability of each volunteer in relation to each land cover class to be calculated. Geographically weighted kernels were used to estimate surfaces of volunteered land cover information accuracy and then to develop spatially distributed correspondences between the volunteer land cover class and land cover from 3 contemporary global datasets (GLC-2000, GlobCover and MODIS v.5). Specifically, a geographically weighted approach calculated local confusion matrices (correspondences) at each location in a central African study area and generated spatial distributions of user's, producer's, portmanteau, and partial portmanteau accuracies. These were used to evaluate the global datasets and to infer which of them was ‘best’ at describing Tree cover at each location in the study area. The resulting maps show where specific global datasets are recommended for analyses requiring Tree cover information. The methods presented in this research suggest that some of the concerns about the quality of VGI can be addressed through careful data collection, the use of control points to evaluate volunteer performance and spatially explicit analyses. A research agenda for the use and analysis of VGI about land cover is outlined.