February 05, 2014

BIG nearby anthropogenic data of VGI to solve the consequences, not the processes

How does it come that though we are over flooded with data, there is still a lack of it?

If one just would be able to grab all available free, crowdsourced volunteered geographical information (VGI) at the time when nearly every smartphone user as a live sensor is or will soon be continuously streaming data, that data would still be just the data about us(!) and around us, but nevertheless it would be just as sequences of point data at a time and place.
The information one could get from VGI data is spatially limited in a sense of horizontal space (VGI is usually nearby surface data from the natural human natural habitats, doesn't matter created by smartphones or digitised from satellite data) and as a result in the sense of scientific domain (or space one could say). For that reason, I would dear to state that the information one can get from VGI could be classified as nearby anthropogenic and therefore can be used to analyse just anthropogenic processes and phenomenons. Nearby- anthropogenic should be understood as just that part of anthropogenic (human re-created) Earth layer which is very nearby natural human habitat (living environment). Shortly to explain: anthropogenic area can be considered from the deepest mining caves up to air plane flying heights, but none of those are the human living spaces, at least not yet.  
Nearby anthropogenic term well bounds the space from which the volunteered data is coming. That space is a natural result of being the 'common interst' of commons, the habitat. Since the data is not created on any purpose, it usually concentrates at the highly-populated habitats and correlate with the technical accessibility. I could very easily support this idea with those Open Street Map data animated videos and pictures, where one could see how the data is being collected withing highly populated areas with a great technical and Internet access and how just when the purpose comes, f.eg. some natural disaster, the organisations and commons quickly 'color' the white space in the map with the nearby anthropological data like some infrastructure, points of interests and so on. You can look at well publicly known example of Haiti mapping, after the earthquake occurred, for the disaster management.

And well, despite there is so much data created everyday, it is all nearby anthropological. VGI is very useful for solving or coping with the consequences of some environmental processes within the human habitat. It is natural we want to save us and our environment, the things we see around us. Nevertheless problems we meet, let's look at the same example of Haiti, are existing/occurring within a much broader space and requires much more specific and complex data, that is often very expensive. For now no VGI can help us to explain the processes, the geographic phenomena that is not happening within people but does have an effect on them. Those far far away processes are left for the sciences concern, as it is complicated, costly and no clear use at the specific moment (like when the money is injected - looking from the economic perspective).

I wonder is there any way the VGI data will grow wider? Like will someone actually would be interested in voluntarily downloading apps or getting specific devices for specific data collection and then sharing? Could such devices be built so well that the calibration wouldn't be affected within the time, due to weather change and so on? Could the oil type or precipitation chemical consistence DATA ever become the BIG DATA, big in quantity?

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