Data collection using mobile technology has facilitated the collection of in situ or ground-based data on land use/land cover including geo-tagged photographs that document the landscape.

Much of the crowdsourcing and citizen science activity with Geo-Wiki has been focussed on visual interpretation of satellite imagery or geo-tagged photographs, which are important sources of data for calibration and validation of remotely sensed products. In situ or ground-based observations can greatly complement visual interpretation, and they also provide a different perspective on the landscape compared to an aerial or street level view.

FotoQuest Go Europe campaign data © IIASA

The Land Use Cover Area frame Sample (LUCAS) survey locations (in brown), showing those that were visited in the FotoQuest Go Europe campaign in dark blue (Base maps: Database of Global Administrative Areas (GADM))

The FotoQuest Austria and FotoQuest Go mobile apps were developed with this in situ component in mind, where the protocol implemented in the apps has been loosely based on the LUCAS (Land Use/Cover Area frame Survey) exercise that takes place every three years across Europe. The data from the 2018 Fotoquest Go campaign have been made available in IIASA’s DARE repository, with details of the last campaign provided in Laso Bayas et al. (2020) as well as more information on the project’s web page.

Other in situ data apps developed as part of the broader set of Geo-Wiki mobile tools include:

  • LACO-Wiki Mobile: described in See et al. (2019), this an app that works in combination with the online LACO-Wiki tool for land cover validation, which allows user to create a validation sample, send it to the mobile app and then allow users to undertake in situ validation of land cover; the sample that is validated in situ can be downloaded by the user from the online LACO-Wiki tool;
  • The FRAQUEST app: which aids the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in collecting in situ data to support the Forest Resource Assessment exercise but has no open data yet available; and the
  • The City Oases, Natura Alert and Paysages apps: which are described in more detail as part of the LandSense data collected.
NaturaAlert1_screenshot © IIASA

Source: Natura Alert App

Laso Bayas, J.C., See, L., Bartl, H., Sturn, T., Karner, M., Fraisl, D., Moorthy, I., Busch, M., van der Velde, M., Fritz, S. (2020): Crowdsourcing LUCAS: Citizens generating reference land cover and land use data with a mobile app. Land, 9(11), 446,
Data Set available from IIASA’s DARE at: