Crowdsourced Mapping

If you’re a map geek like me, the New York Public Library has a project for you. They are looking for citizen cartographers to help digitise historic city maps. They are running a computerized system that gathers detail from old maps, and they need help from humans to check and add information to them. You can check or fix building footprints, enter addresses, classify colours or find place names to add to the data over on their Building Inspector website.


This isn’t the first instance of crowdsourced mapping I’ve come across. Similar projects have been used in Crisis Mapping, for example, through Ushuahidi, or on the search for debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

If you have a mapping project where you could use a combination of computer and human assistance, but you don’t have the reach of the NYPL or a project that appeals to the public good, microworking websites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or Crowdflower may be useful resources. On these websites, you post micro tasks like a line of data entry, for example, and a scalable workforce of people from around the world will work on the micro tasks until they are complete.

Have you participated in or created any crowdsourced mapping projects? Let me know on Twitter for a future post.

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