To crowdmap a region, first of all you need a crowd. As people are lazy, you need a lot of small contribution to get a meaningful geographical annotation. Of course, this is more easily done in cities, and that’s why projects like OpenStreetMap work so well in big towns like London or New York.
Now, two projects are asking people to annotate places where most of the time no one is around. Geo-wiki asks volunteer to annotate Google Earth pictures in order to classify them according to the land cover by tags such as “tree cover”, “grassland”, “urban/built up”. The competition for the best land-use annotators is open until the end of march, with prizes available for the top scorers. The project goal is to construct more precise maps of the global land use than those employed by ecosystem scientists today. This is crucial, for example, if you want to “determine the potential of additional agricultural land available to grow crops in Africa”, as the Geo-wiki team puts it.
Another project deals with even less populated areas: deep ocean. The Neptune Canada research project is inviting Digital Fishers to annotate 15-seconds videoclips of the deep-sea. These are small pieces from the thousands of hours of videos filmed by the undersea network installed by the Neptune Canada project staff. No software is able to analyze those video and extract information from them (presence of animals, water clarity etc.), so that people’s help is needed. Digital fishers will contribute so to answer fundamental questions like: “What environmental factors influence the distribution of species in the deep? What is the biodiversity associated with deep-sea environments? How do species interact with each other and with their environment?”. Ready to dive?