The Many Names of Crowdsourcing GIS


The advent of tools that invite and encourage even non-GIS trained users to provide geographic data and mapping in a collaborative, wiki-like environment has both fans and naysayers.  The debate about this growing effort aside, even coming up with a universally accepted name has been elusive. There are certainly many competitors seeking to be “the one” that comes up with the name that sticks.  So what catchphrases are out there that describe mapping and geographic data creation by the laity? 

  • Neogeography – Term espoused by Andrew Turner and first coined by Di-Ann Eisnor, a co-founder of  From Andrew Turner: “Neogeography means “new geography” and consists of a set of techniques and tools that fall outside the realm of traditional GIS, Geographic Information Systems.”
  • Volunteered Geographic Information – In looking at such collaborative efforts as Wikimapia, OpenStreetMap and Google Earth, Michael Goodchild first proposed this term in GeoJournal.
  • Vulgar Geography – In perhaps a state of facetiousness, Tom Elliott proposed this term.
  • Crowdsourcing GIS – Taking from general IT terminology and appending GIS results in a catchphrases with a more universal understanding.
  • Collaborative GIS (aka grassroots mapping) – OpenStreetMap is probably one of the earliest examples of using online technology to develop geographic data through a community effort.

What other catchphrases are out there?

Like this article and want more?

Enter your email to receive the weekly GIS Lounge newsletter: