Crowdsourcing LUCAS: Citizens Generating Reference Land Cover and Land Use Data with a Mobile App

Laso Bayas, J.C. ORCID:, See, L. ORCID:, Bartl, H., Sturn, T., Karner, M., Fraisl, D. ORCID:, Moorthy, I., Busch, M., et al. (2020). Crowdsourcing LUCAS: Citizens Generating Reference Land Cover and Land Use Data with a Mobile App. Land 9 (11) e446. 10.3390/land9110446.

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Project: Harnessing the power of crowdsourcing to improve land cover and land-use information (CROWDLAND, FP7 617754), A Citizen Observatory and Innovation Marketplace for Land Use and Land Cover Monitoring (LANDSENSE, H2020 689812)


There are many new land use and land cover (LULC) products emerging yet there is still a lack of in situ data for training, validation, and change detection purposes. The LUCAS (Land Use Cover Area frame Sample) survey is one of the few authoritative in situ field campaigns, which takes place every three years in European Union member countries. More recently, a study has considered whether citizen science and crowdsourcing could complement LUCAS survey data, e.g., through the FotoQuest Austria mobile app and crowdsourcing campaign. Although the data obtained from the campaign were promising when compared with authoritative LUCAS survey data, there were classes that were not well classified by the citizens. Moreover, the photographs submitted through the app were not always of sufficient quality. For these reasons, in the latest FotoQuest Go Europe 2018 campaign, several improvements were made to the app to facilitate interaction with the citizens contributing and to improve their accuracy in LULC identification. In addition to extending the locations from Austria to Europe, a change detection component (comparing land cover in 2018 to the 2015 LUCAS photographs) was added, as well as an improved LC decision tree. Furthermore, a near real-time quality assurance system was implemented to provide feedback on the distance to the target location, the LULC classes chosen and the quality of the photographs. Another modification was a monetary incentive scheme in which users received between 1 to 3 Euros for each successfully completed quest of sufficient quality. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether citizens can provide high quality in situ data on LULC through crowdsourcing that can complement LUCAS. We compared the results between the FotoQuest campaigns in 2015 and 2018 and found a significant improvement in 2018, i.e., a much higher match of LC between FotoQuest Go Europe and LUCAS. As shown by the cost comparisons with LUCAS, FotoQuest can complement LUCAS surveys by enabling continuous collection of large amounts of high quality, spatially explicit field data at a low cost.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: land cover; land use; citizen science; mobile apps; in-situ data collection; LUCAS
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2020 08:36
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 05:01

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