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Quality of Crowdsourced Data on Urban Morphology—The Human Influence Experiment (HUMINEX)

Bechtel, Benjamin; Demuzere, Matthias; Sismanidis, Panagiotis; Fenner, Daniel; Brousse, Oscar; Beck, Christoph; Van Coillie, Frieke; Conrad, Olaf; Keramitsoglou, Iphigenia; Middel, Ariane; Mills, Gerald; Niyogi, Dev; Otto, Marco; See, Linda; Verdonck, Marie-Leen

The World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools (WUDAPT) is a community initiative to collect worldwide data on urban form (i.e., morphology, materials) and function (i.e., use and metabolism). This is achieved through crowdsourcing, which we define here as the collection of data by a bounded crowd, composed of students. In this process, training data for the classification of urban structures into Local Climate Zones (LCZ) are obtained, which are, like most volunteered geographic information initiatives, of unknown quality. In this study, we investigated the quality of 94 crowdsourced training datasets for ten cities, generated by 119 students from six universities. The results showed large discrepancies and the resulting LCZ maps were mostly of poor to moderate quality. This was due to general difficulties in the human interpretation of the (urban) landscape and in the understanding of the LCZ scheme. However, the quality of the LCZ maps improved with the number of training data revisions. As evidence for the wisdom of the crowd, improvements of up to 20% in overall accuracy were found when multiple training datasets were used together to create a single LCZ map. This improvement was greatest for small training datasets, saturating at about ten to fifteen sets.
Published in: Urban Science, 10.3390/urbansci1020015, MDPI