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Crowdsourcing (in) Voluntary Citizen Geospatial Data from Google Android Smartphones

By 2016 it is projected that there will be over 2 billion smartphone users worldwide with Google’s Android operating system installed on the vast majority of these devices (82.8% market share as of Q2 2015). The majority of Android smartphones sold in the last three years have GPS functionality and, unless actively disabled by the user, have a Location History feature that records the phone's geographic coordinates at frequent intervals whenever the phone is powered on. User interaction with the device or an active display is not required for the recording of these data and as such users may be unaware of the data being collected. Google has introduced Google Maps Timeline that facilitates mapping and interacting with a user location history data via Google Maps, and also provides a service called Takeout with the explicit goal of facilitating user access to personal data held by Google, including Location History. The Location History data can be downloaded and analysed using GIS software, representing a potential step-change in Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). This potential collective repository of geospatial data represents a key emerging geodesign technology for geographers, landscape architects and planners – if researchers and practitioners can access it. In this paper we discuss preliminary results of a research project that piloted a technique for collecting crowdsourced Google Location History data in the context of a walkability study. We provide an overview of the process and an evaluation of its strengths, limitations and challenges. Our findings indicate that data obtained from Google Location History can be of high quality and capture fine scale processes such as walking, however the quality varies depending on Android settings and decreases without a mobile data plan. We conclude with recommendations for future research and a discussion of optimal approaches for data acquisition.

Autor / Author: Linquist, Mark; Galpern, Paul
Institution / Institution: University of Michigan, Michigan, USA; University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Seitenzahl / Pages: 10
Sprache / Language: Englisch
Veröffentlichung / Publication: JoDLA − Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture, 1-2016
Tagung / Conference: Digital Landscape Architecture 2016 – Representing, Evaluating and Designing Landscapes: Digital Approaches
Veranstaltungsort, -datum / Venue, Date: Istanbul, Turkey 01-06-16 - 03-06-16
Schlüsselwörter (de):
Keywords (en): Crowdsourcing, Geodesign, landscape architecture, VGI, walkability
Paper review type: Full Paper Review
DOI: doi:10.14627/537612030
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