IIASA, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, launched a new game during COP19 of the UNFCCC. Cropland Capture is an interactive game, where participants in the game identify farmland (cropland) around the world in small snippets of satellite images. By doing this the participants in the game help build up a data collection of global land cover, providing useful information for researchers world wide.
The data collected from this game will be used to build a new global cropland map. Although identifying cropland could also be done in an automated process, the developers of the game claim that humans are still better at this. Previous research shows that even non-experts do a better job at identifying farmland in the pictures than and automated process would be able to do.
The Geo Wiki project
The Geo-Wiki Project is a global network of volunteers who wish to help improve the quality of global land cover maps. Since large differences occur between existing global land cover maps, current ecosystem and land-use science lacks crucial accurate data (e.g. to determine the potential of additional agricultural land available to grow crops in Africa). Volunteers are asked to review hotspot maps of global land cover disagreement and determine, based on what they actually see in Google Earth and their local knowledge, if the land cover maps are correct or incorrect. Their input is recorded in a database, along with uploaded photos, to be used in the future for the creation of a new and improved global land cover map.
By contributing to this project the data collected in the global cropland game helps researchers understanding global food security, identifying yield gaps, and monitoring crops affected by droughts.
You can help by playing the game
The game is available for computers (although it does require a plugin to run in your browser) and for smartphones and tablets. Participants in the game see a small snippet of a satellite image and are asked to identify whether or not the area marked in red contains cropland. This is sometimes easy to see, but can sometimes also be difficult to identify.
Every week the player with the highest score (correctly identifying most images) is selected to participate in a draw, taking place at the end of the six months during which the game will run.