Understanding design with VGI using an information relevance framework

Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) has the potential to offer increased value and usability benefits to end-users over and above that of Professional Geographic Information (PGI). Using a multi-methods approach consisting of participatory observation, focus groups and diary studies, the differences between VGI and PGI are investigated in relation to the characteristics which are the most, or least relevant to an end-user community. The key finding was that the discussion amongst designers should not be whether to choose VGI or PGI as the information data set, but to consider which combination of VGI and PGI relating to different geographic features and task characteristics will best fit the user requirements. VGI is likely to be most relevant to the user when a geographic features is dynamic rather than static in nature These findings have implications for how different forms of information may be most effectively utilised within different usage situations. Above all, a case is presented for the implementation of User Centred Design principals when integrating VGI and PGI together in a single mashup based product to maximise benefit to the end user.