A Participatory Geographic Information System (PGIS) Utilizing the GeoWeb 2.0: Filling the Gaps of the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Industry
Drew Michanowicz, Samantha Malone, Matthew Kelso, Kyle Ferrar, Charles Christen, Conrad Dan Volz
The application of neocartography, specifically through the Web 2.0, is a new phase of participatory geographic information system (PGIS) research. Neocartography includes the encouragement of non-expert participation through visual design (e.g., map layering), and knowledge discovery via the Web. To better understand the challenges from an increase in natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of the United States, a GeoWeb 2.0 platform titled FracTracker (FracTracker.org) that relies upon PGIS and neocartography was created and implemented in June 2010. FracTracker focuses on data-to-information translation to stimulate capacity building for a range of user types by leveraging the immense benefits of a spatial component. The main features of FracTracker are the ability to upload and download geospatial data as various file types, visualize data through thematic mapping and charting tools, and learn about and share drilling experiences. In less than 2 years, 2,440 registered users have effectively participated in creating 956 maps or „snapshots‟ using 399 available datasets. FracTracker demonstrates that participatory, interoperable GeoWebs can be utilized to help understand and localize related impacts of complex systems, such as the extractive energy industry.