Publication Date:
Author(s): Carolynne Hultquist, Zita Oravecz, Guido Cervone
Publisher: MDPI AG
Publication Type: Academic Journal Article
Journal Title: ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Volume: 10
Issue: 12

Citizen-led movements producing spatio-temporal big data are potential sources of useful information during hazards. Yet, the sampling of crowdsourced data is often opportunistic and the statistical variations in the datasets are not typically assessed. There is a scientific need to understand the characteristics and geostatistical variability of big spatial data from these diverse sources if they are to be used for decision making. Crowdsourced radiation measurements can be visualized as raw, often overlapping, points or processed for an aggregated comparison with traditional sources to confirm patterns of elevated radiation levels. However, crowdsourced data from citizen-led projects do not typically use a spatial sampling method so classical geostatistical techniques may not seamlessly be applied. Standard aggregation and interpolation methods were adapted to represent variance, sampling patterns, and the reliability of modeled trends. Finally, a Bayesian approach was used to model the spatial distribution of crowdsourced radiation measurements around Fukushima and quantify uncertainty introduced by the spatial data characteristics. Bayesian kriging of the crowdsourced data captures hotspots and the probabilistic approach could provide timely contextualized information that can improve situational awareness during hazards. This paper calls for the development of methods and metrics to clearly communicate spatial uncertainty by evaluating data characteristics, representing observational gaps and model error, and providing probabilistic outputs for decision making.