X, Y, and Z Marks the Spot: Geocaching as a form of VGI
For the most part we have all heard of the new sport/activity known as Geocaching. It is basically a global treasure hunt. People armed with GPS devices from around the world input coordinates found at www.Geocaching.com. The definition for geocaching provided on the site is as follows Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online (Geocaching). The reason for the definition is that it specifically states “share your experience online”. This got me thinking that geocaching is in part a form of VGI with the right direction and motivation. There are roughly 2,247,888 million people signed up on the site all of which are taking or inputting geographic coordinates and locations on a daily basis. This formed a massive data base of stored locations. Geocachers around the world could upload track logs and way point data as shape files and could potentially map a large part of the earth’s surface bearing in mind that it would create more of a back roads or hiking trail kind of layout with some of the most unique locations. I personally have gone geocaching and the places it takes you are phenomenal. Geocaching as a form of VGI would definitely involve extensive field notes and organization to pull off but I think the results would be amazing. I did a little research into the subject of geocaching as a form of VGI and surprisingly there wasn’t much info. The one thing that caught my attention was how geocachers were reporting noxious weeds in Ada County, ID. The county hid four geocaches filled with info about these weed infestations and weed control efforts. The citizens (local geocachers) found these and started to log and submit coordinates of infestations they came across to the counts weed control agencies. http://apb.directionsmag.com/entry/vgi-geocachers-reporting-on-weeds-in-ada-county-id/162386. This example shows the endless possibilities of VGI in the future which can be incorporated into things people do for fun such as geocaching. Not only could they report on plant infestation but anything really from any sort of invasive species, animal sittings, creeks or streams that have disappeared or changed direction to just simply amazing locations and views. The extent of geocaching as a form of VGI will only grow with our creativity, dedication, and determination.
My blog for an assignment for GIS 321. It can also be found on the Selkirk College Castlegar Campus website as well as the other students blog posts.