Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lessons From the Search for Steve Fossett posts a well-written article on the problems encountered by having volunteers using satellite and aerial imagery to try and locate lost avaitor Steve Fossett with Amazon Mechanical Turk. A number of the problems listed had to do with the quality of the imagery for the particular application or the coordination and interfaces that were needed. However, the article also states that individuals did not read or follow the instructions given to them and volunteers did not understand what they were seeing on an image ("the complete inabilities of many participants to be able identify the difference between natural objects like dead trees, rocks, shadows, etc. and foreign objects that did not belong like airplane wreckage").

In developing consumer products and services using spatial data, a company should always keep the human element in mind - its products and/or services may be used by individuals who are not qualified and/or who do not follow instructions. Preparing for this in advance can help a company reduce its risk of liability.

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