Just until recently, the task of mapping geographical phenomena was reserved for cartographers and other experts, who had access to the needed equipment (telescopes, sextant, theodolites, etc.) and expertise. Nowadays, facilitated by the wide prevalence of smartphones and other connected devices, it became inherently easy to define our position, or that of geographic objects and share geographic information with others. In order to describe this phenomenon, the British-American cartographer Michael F. Goodchild coined the term “Volunteered Geographic Information”, which is created and distributed by non-trained users exploiting the possibilities provided by technological innovations such as Web 2.0.
Our mobile phones are probably the most prominent devices in generating spatial data, as they are capable of taking pictures, videos, audio recordings, georeferencing these and sharing them online. Within the Erasmus+ project Danubian_SMCs, a workshop week was hosted aimed at highlighting, testing and reviewing the potentials of VGI within spatial planning approaches, most importantly to challenges related to small and medium sized cities along the Danube.
Students and lecturers from seven universities from five countries participated in an online workshop coordinated by TU Wien and focussed on the aspects of bikeability and accessibility in their home cities. These topics were selected because they play a key role in transforming Danubian cities to ecologically and socially sustainable and resilient places.
The workshop participants used their smartphones to collect relevant data to describe specific situations in their cities, in the form of pictures, notes, tracks and audio recordings. The workshop coordinator guided this process with theoretical input on VGI, data acquisition, data handling and web mapping.
The outputs of research initiatives are collected on the workshop homepage which features blogposts of students presenting the results of their research in an interactive way:
The website contains a short introductory text on the project and the aims of the workshop week. It explains the two main topics of the course: accessibility and bikeability. The student participants formed groups of 3 to 4 people focusing on one specific topic in a city and presented their research questions, methods and findings in interactive blog entries.
The findings of the groups cover a number of Danubian cities and highlight different aspects and questions regarding cultural and architectural heritage, gaps in biking and accessibility infrastructure. The results of the workshop week can be used for explaining and discussing problematic situations compare solution suggestions across cities and derive actions. Additionally, the methodological background can also be used in various further research and creative projects.
Read more about the host of the IPs here.