The Many Names of Crowdsourcing GIS

Caitlin Dempsey


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?

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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2 thoughts on “The Many Names of Crowdsourcing GIS”

  1. I am preparing lectures for my geography course this fall and thinks its great that you are calling attention to crowdsource gis and other collaborative technologies

  2. Vulgar geography?? Isn’t that en epithet simply? Well, I don’t agree it’s a name… and especially to be compared with the terms already used in scientific literature as VGI, Crowdsourcing.

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