SotM 2011 panel: I fight authority, Authority always wins

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State Of The Map 2011 Session
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Eric Wolf and Barbara Poore from USGS organized a panel at State Of The Map 2011 on Authoritative Mapping.

The panel was titled "I fight authority, authority always wins" (nod to John Cougar Mellancamp) and took place Sunday, September 11th from 12 noon to 12:30pm.


The US Geological Survey (USGS) has had several citizen mapping projects over the past two decades. A recurring problem is integrating user contributions into “authoritative” datasets. This panel will bring together representatives from various US Federal Agencies and other National Mapping Agencies to discuss the following questions:
1. What makes data authoritative?
2. What are the costs and benefits of authoritative data?
3. How can user contributed data be made authoritative?
The questions are interrelated but answering each provides different perspectives on the same problem. Defining authoritative :data establishes the necessary foundation for the discussion. Is quality and authority synonymous?
Certain costs and benefits are associated with authoritative data. The past experience at the USGS has been the cost of verifying the quality of contributed data is too high. Steve Coast established a dichotomy when he said at The National Map User Conference, “You can use expensive, authoritative data, or you can use OpenStreetMap.” Are the costs and benefits consistent across applications? Are there ways to reduce the cost of pure authoritative data? Are there ways of making “free” data authoritative at reduced costs? Do the benefits of each remain constant?
Finally, what methods are available for making contributed data authoritative? Are there inputs that can made before data is created to improve the quality of resulting data? Are there ways of leveraging the community to verify the quality of data?