Crowdsourcing is a wildly popular and quick way to compile accurate data for further analysis. What would take one person or a small team years to complete is wrapped up in a matter of weeks with the help of the volunteers. From counting penguins to archiving library databases, crowdsourcing does what artificial intelligence was designed for, but better. Until AI is advanced enough for feature recognition, human eyes are the most advanced tool known to humans for feature extraction.
GIS data is no different, and the GISCorps is committed to using qualified volunteers for their crowdfunding endeavors. For their last project, GISCorps teamed up with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) for the 2020 fire season. From our vantage point in Colorado, it’s easy to see the difficulty in compiling information on fire activity on a national scale. Colorado had numerous fires burning hundreds of thousands of acres, destroying homes and lives in the process. The western United States suffered under a devastating 2020 fire season that burned millions of acres and saw mass evacuations. Resources were stretched thin and information was scattered across various outlets including social media, websites and news sources. Volunteers compiled the data into a public-facing map for people to access important information in a single location. In total, they mapped over 1,900 fires, and people viewed the map 9.5 million times.
The project was a huge success, and they are building on their efforts in 2020 for the 2021 fire season. With over a dozen volunteers committed to providing the public with the most up-to-date information on fire danger, crowdsourcing GIS solutions is a proven solution to a complex problem.