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Author: Clark, Matthew L. and Aide, T. Mitchell

Virtual Interpretation of Earth Web-Interface Tool (VIEW-IT) for Collecting Land-Use/Land-Cover Reference Data

Journal: Remote Sensing
Volume: 3
Year: 2011
Number: 12
Pages: 601--620


Web-based applications that integrate geospatial information, or the geoweb, offer exciting opportunities for remote sensing science. One such application is a Web‑based system for automating the collection of reference data for producing and verifying the accuracy of land-use/land-cover (LULC) maps derived from satellite imagery. Here we describe the capabilities and technical components of the Virtual Interpretation of Earth Web-Interface Tool (VIEW-IT), a collaborative browser-based tool for “crowdsourcing” interpretation of reference data from high resolution imagery. The principal component of VIEW-IT is the Google Earth plug-in, which allows users to visually estimate percent cover of seven basic LULC classes within a sample grid. The current system provides a 250 m square sample to match the resolution of MODIS satellite data, although other scales could be easily accommodated. Using VIEW-IT, a team of 23 student and 7 expert interpreters collected over 46,000 reference samples across Latin America and the Caribbean. Samples covered all biomes, avoided spatial autocorrelation, and spanned years 2000 to 2010. By embedding Google Earth within a Web-based application with an intuitive user interface, basic interpretation criteria, distributed Internet access, server-side storage, and automated error-checking, VIEW-IT provides a time and cost efficient means of collecting a large dataset of samples across space and time. When matched with predictor variables from satellite imagery, these data can provide robust mapping algorithm calibration and accuracy assessment. This development is particularly important for regional to global scale LULC mapping efforts, which have traditionally relied on sparse sampling of medium resolution imagery and products for reference data. Our ultimate goal is to make VIEW-IT available to all users to promote rigorous, global land-change monitoring.


Google Earth,MODIS,crowdsourcing,geoweb,land use/land cover,reference data collection,volunteer geographic information

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