Volunteer Geographic Information Reporting System: A Cross-Case Comparison
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Collaborating with volunteers to collect spatial information for environmental monitoring has been thought to be a socially-oriented mechanism for improving public participation and environmental decision-making when lacking sufficient managerial resources. Unlike general volunteer geographic information that initiates from citizen or interest groups, this research focuses on exploring projects or programs that are designed to help public land managers ease their monitoring costs. Existing research observed that a new program or management process change is most likely facing institutional and management resistance of different degrees. A conceptual framework (Volunteer Geographic Information Reporting Assessment Framework (VGI-RAF)) has been developed to assess and explore why resistance exists. To enhance management acceptance, this research structured volunteer reports based on spatial decision units (SDUs) and structured forms. A number of comparisons were performed, which included (a) information process efficiency, (b) database structure quality, and (c) user interface usability. To empirically analyze and compare cases, this research used a cross-case comparison research method to cultivate knowledge from existing cases due to limited research on the same topic. Results showed that VGI-RAF can depict institutional constraints, stakeholder interactions, and information needs. It provides key information for volunteer reporting system design and/or modification. Different scales (coverage) of reporting systems would require proper institutional arrangements to incorporate collected information. A data collection design should match managerial purposes with volunteer or stakeholder’s expectation. Mismatching may cause waste of managerial resources. To increase management acceptance, structuring volunteer reports based on SDUs and structured forms will ensure increased processing and search efficiency. However, because SDUs make a seamless connection between management and reports, SDUs can be used to monitor management performance and therefore may create tensions between volunteers and managers. Choice of SDUs should be well-considered in addition to information processing and political and/or managerial aspects of the VGI reporting circumstances.
- Forestry