Evaluating smartphone-based volunteered geographic information for land registration: the case of the Scottish crofting community
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Land registration is important in land tenure security and often resolves land-related issues. Many less developed countries lack proper land registers, given the high cost and long timeframe to produce these according to Western standards of high accuracy. Employing volunteered geographic information as a cheaper and quicker alternative for this purpose is gaining recognition, with the latest tool being the smartphone, of which the positioning and multimedia-capturing capabilities can enable land owners/tenants to take land registration into their own hands. This dissertation investigates the extent to which this tool is meaningful for land registration, with the Scottish crofting community as a case study. This community seeks a more participatory approach to croft registration, which is incomplete. To this end, CroftCappture was developed, an Android application that can record points along boundaries and save geotagged photographs and descriptions. Testing with crofters allowed for an evaluation of its usability, functionality and accuracy, as well as how useful this technology would be to their community. Results showed that smartphone-based VGI can indeed be collected by individuals for land registration and that there is added value in recording multimedia to help clarify boundary complexities and record stories about crofts which would otherwise be lost. Despite the Crofting Commission’s interest, a low positional accuracy and some crofters’ suspicions about new methods uncovering malpractice may hamper its adoption. Nevertheless, this approach is likely to be more quickly adopted in communities less fixated on accuracy and more accepting towards other ways of documenting land tenure.