The impact of volunteered geographic information (VGI) is increasing. They offer a huge potential for private companies as well as government agencies or other organizations. At the latest after the earthquake in Haiti 2010 the work of volunteers has even shown the high benefit of VGI in humanitarian emergencies. Providing up-to-date mapped information was a great assistance for the relief organizations on-site . But examining only the generated geographic information does not meet the whole phenomenon of VGI. To get a whole view of VGI and its potential, we have to consider two sides: In addition to the geographic information especially the volunteers play a central role, who generate the information resp. data in the first place . For this reason it is of great interest, how people become such volunteers, why they contribute without consideration. What is their motivation
Particularly, the Web 2.0 has provided a necessary framework to enable the rapid rise of VGI-contributor's activity ‒ besides other technologies, such as the spread of GPS-capable devices . All this makes it possible that today users can be producers at the same time, becoming so-called produser . But new technologies and the access to them are not sufficient factors to explain VGI-contribution, the individual motivation plays a key role. To understand VGI-contributors, it is important to consider their specific characteristics in more detail. VGI-contributors have different backgrounds, experience and knowledge - in short: they are a heterogeneous group. In addition, each VGI project or platform may have different structures and goals. Summarized all this affects the motivation of every individual to contribute .
In recent years, more often volunteers got together ‒ often technically-skilled people, who are adept among others in social media and geographic information system ‒ forming Volunteer & Technical Communities (V&TC), such as The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team or Ushahidi. Their work and proceeding provide advantages and resources of which common relief organizations can benefit .
Regarding the mentioned potential of VGI-contributors and V&TCs, an intended aim should be to increase the motivation to participate in VGI-projects, to inspire more people to voluntarily contribute and to keep already active VGI-contributors. Despite the advantages there exist different possibilities to make the work of V&TCs more effective .
To handle these issues and exploit the full potential of VGI-contributors, the whole process of volunteerism has to be considered. Volunteers have different expectations and requests in their voluntarily activities . In this respect it is important to consider the heterogeneity of VGI-contributors. The motivations can range from altruism over fun to the expectation to gain personal or even monetary benefit . It seems to be crucial that VGI-projects must try to consider and adapt their structures to VGI-contributors' motivations to attract them. How can people be convinced to contribute in a VGI-context?
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