Friday, June 27, 2008

Crowdsourcing Imagery Analysis (Wikimapia)

I have written previously about the value of the Google Earth Community for leads and other hard to find information concerning virtually any geographic location. Tasks like identifying and describing geographic locations on a map are perfect for crowdsourcing, where lots of people throw a little bit of time at a project. While I would not center my business, law enforcement or military plans around such data, it can provide very useful leads.

Wikimapia, which is very much like the Google Earth Community, allows users to post data concerning any place in the world. When this service first came out, I didn't think it would be able to compete with the Google Earth Community. Apparently, I was wrong.

I gave Wikimapia a second look today (Thanks, Rachel!) and was very impressed with the quantity of information and detail available. Take a look at the image of Bushehr Iran below.
Of course this is just a screenshot and I added the title and the website but the yellow box highlighting the Iranian HAWK site is all Wikimapia. Yeah. I thought it was pretty cool, too.

All of the little white boxes are sites that have been identified as something by someone. A good number of the sites identified are in the native language of the country making this a useful training tool for linguists as well.

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COOLINT Part Deux: "The World Through The Eyes Of Editors In Chief"
COOLINT: Heat Map Of Search Terms By Country
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Terrorism Threat Map
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Anonymous said...

Did you know that you actually don't have to do screen shots with wikimapia? If you click on 'map on your page' under the wikimapia menu, it will actually embed it for you. It's a pretty cool feature to be able to embed imagery in your blog or website.

Unknown said...

Thanks for putting this up on your blog. It should prove helpful with the simulation for the rest of the summer.ou

Michael said...

"While I would not center my business, law enforcement or military plans around such data, it can provide very useful leads."

If put up by trusted users, or sufficiently vetted in some fashion, why not? Build the framework, charge for value-added, pay back contributors (or feed their annual evals if internal).

Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Thanks for the tip! I should have spotted the embed feature. I usually look for it but missed it this time.


Kristan J. Wheaton said...


I agree with your basic point but it seems to me that the value of these tools, right now, comes in the way they are open to everyone and anyone. That, in turn, impacts my confidence in any analysis done using these sources. Restrict access in even modest ways (like requiring registration) and you get lots less info (with a higher trust factor, obviously).

Personally, I have had great luck with these type sites and the sooner we get something like Wikitrust for imagery, the better...