Mapping Vernacular Geography: Web-based GIS Tools for Capturing 'fuzzy' or 'vague' Entities

A.J. Evans, T. Waters

A.J. Evans, T. Waters, Mapping Vernacular Geography: Web-based GIS Tools for Capturing 'fuzzy' or 'vague' Entities, International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 7(2):134-150, 2007.

Most people do not use a formal geographical vocabulary, however they do use a wide variety of geographical terms on a daily basis. Identifiers such as 'Downtown' are components of a vernacular geography which is vastly more used than the coordinates and scientifically defined variables beloved of most professional analysts. Terms like these build into the jointly defined world-views within which we all act. Despite its importance for policymaking and quality of life, attention is rarely paid to this vernacular geography because it is hard to capture and use. This paper presents tools for capturing this geography, an example of the tools' use to define 'High Crime' areas, and an initial discussion of the issues surrounding vernacular data. While the problems involved in analysing such data are not to be underestimated, such a system aims to pull together professional and popular geographical understanding, to the advantage of both.


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