LandSpotting - Collecting In-situ Data for Earth Observation Product Validation via Social Games

This project aimed to improve the quality of land cover information by vastly increasing the amount of in-situ data available for calibration and validation of satellite-derived land cover.

Short Description

At present there is no single satellite-derived global land cover product that is accurate enough to provide reliable estimates of forest or cropland area.

Land cover is an Essential Climate Variable (ECV), which is required to support the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). All ECVs are technically and economically feasible for systematic observation. These climate variables require international exchange for both current and historical observations.

The Geo-Wiki system currently allows users to compare three satellite-derived land cover products and validate them using Google Earth. However, there is presently no incentive for anyone to provide this data so the amount of validation through Geo- Wiki has been quite limited so far. The LandSpotting project takes a truly innovative approach by adding crowdsourcing through the development of games. The games engage users whilst simultaneously collecting a large amount of in-situ land cover information. The development of the games was informed by the current raft of successful social gaming.

At the same time, the Geo-Wiki system was modified to exploit the latest available satellite images and to use the in-situ validation data, which is also collected via, to create new outputs:

  • A hybrid land cover map, which takes the best information from each individual product to create a single integrated version
  • A database of validation points that will be freely available to the land cover user community
  • A facility that allows users to create a specific targeted validation area, which will then be provided to the crowdsourcing community for validation

These outputs will turn Geo-Wiki into a valuable system for many land cover users.

Project Partners


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) - Steffen Fritz


  • FOTEC Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH - Martina Dürauer
  • EOX IT Services GmbH - Gerhard Triebnig
  • Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Computer Graphics and Algorithms - Michael Wimmer

Contact Address

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Steffen Fritz
Schlossplatz 1
A-2361 Laxenburg
Tel.: +43 (2236) 807 - 353