Citizen science for pedestrian cartography: collection and moderation of walkable routes in cities through mobile gamification

Abstract. Digital geographical maps can be regarded as a user interface for understanding and navigating the city. Nevertheless, contemporary digital maps over-emphasize the needs of motor vehicles. Pedestrian routes have only been considered as an add-on option in existing digital maps and the respective data collection has not been performed in the field. In this article, we present a mobile application that employs gamification as a means to engage users to collect pragmatic data about walkable routes, which are then processed with the goal of creating a new kind of pedestrian-friendly cartography. Besides the technical infrastructure for collecting and filtering the route traces, the main challenge in user-generated walkable routes is the identification of malicious data, which should be rejected, as well as the rewarding of constructive behavior through peer-review. For this purpose, the mobile application employs a point system in order to identify and discourage the submission of bad routes. A longitudinal field study of the mobile application confirmed that gamification facilitates effective data collection for producing pedestrian cartography even with few users and demonstrated that gamification infuses a shared responsibly about the quality of data collection. The visualization of the pedestrian-generated data on a map required a partially manual process, thus, further research should explore the gamification of the data visualization part, too.

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