Do users ignore spatial dada quality?

P.A.J. van Oort, A.K. Bregt and S. de Bruin
Wageningen University, Centre for Geo-Information, P.O. Box 47,  6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands 
pepijn.vanoort@wur.nl, arnold.bregt@wur.nl, sytze.debruin@wur.nl

Abstract
Risk analysis (RA) has been proposed as a means of assessing fitness for use of spatial data. However, literature suggests that users of spatial data often ignore the potential implications of inherent uncertainties and errors in their decision making.  There is very little empirical research on how users cope with issues of spatial data quality. In this paper, we explore a number of hypotheses for why users would be more or less willing to spend resources on RA. The hypotheses were tested using questionnaires which were  distributed to researchers, policy-makers and GIS-technicians. Our results suggest that the willingness of users to spend resources on quantifying implications of spatial data quality depends on the presence of feedback mechanisms in the decision-making process. For example stakeholder interaction at the start of a project may identify and eliminate errors and as a result, decision-makers may consider RA unnecessary. Another form of  feedback, at the end of the decision, is accountability for implications due to errors and uncertainties. We found a very high willingness to spend resources on RA in case  of such accountability. Apart from feedback mechanisms, we found that the willingness of users to spend resources on quantifying implications of spatial data quality depends on how much is at stake and to a minor extent on how well the decision-making process can be modeled.

Keywords: spatial data quality, fitness for use, risk analysis, decision making

In: Caetano, M. and Painho, M. (eds). Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Spatial Accuracy Assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 5 – 7 July 2006, Lisboa, Instituto Geográfico Português

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