Using “Campaigns” for crowdsourced data

With GISCollective we want to offer an accessible and user-friendly tool for collaborating with maps. If you have a mapping project based on public participation, you will want to make it straightforward for people to contribute. Setting up a Campaign is a great option for that. Here’s why, and more info on how to get started.

With Campaigns, you get a form or survey page that is specific to your project – you can personalize it with the project description and a picture, choose the icons you want to use, and shape the questions you want to ask. From the start, you tie the Campaign to a specific map, so that responses to the Campaign will be automatically linked to that map once submitted. 


As with any project, you will first want to make sure you have defined a team for it, and add team members with different roles if needed. 

If you want to use custom icons, and more complex questions in your Campaign, you will want to define an icon set. The icons are an important aspect of the Campaigns, because you can associate questions to an icon, and they will show up in the Campaign form whenever the icon is used. We call these icon attributes, and they offer a lot of flexibility in defining what type of answer you expect: text, numbers, predefined options, or boolean values(true or false).  So for example if you’d like to collect data on old trees, you may need certain attributes of a tree:  you could define the tree diameter as an attribute, and the tree species as another attribute.

Icon attributes

Then you will need a map – this is where the data submitted through the Campaign will end up, once you associate the map with the Campaign. When you create your map you will have various settings for how the data will show up on the map. 

By default, newly added sites are private. The map team will get notified via email when a Campaign contribution is made, and the sites can be reviewed and published. You can also set newly added data to be created as “pending”. This means that contributors will see the site icon on the map right after submitting their answer, however the actual site data will not be visible until reviewed and published, so the icons on the map are not clickable.

Create a Campaign in 5 steps

Step 1

From the Menu, you can access the Campaign setup page from + -> Campaign. You can start with a description text, which is great for explaining the motivation of the project, why people should contribute, and what the expectations are for valuable contributions. You can also add a picture, for a more personal touch.

Step 2

Next it’s time to choose the icons. You can set mandatory as well as optional icons. All sites created through the Campaign will automatically get the mandatory icons.

For example, if you want to collect data on old trees, you can add an Old Tree icon as mandatory, so that all the sites will have this icon and the attributes that come with it. As for the optional ones, contributors can choose whether to add any of them or not. For the tree data scenario, these optional icons could be ones that could tell you more about the site, but may or may not be present, like: a Forest icon, or a Park icon, or a Community Garden icon.

Mandatory and optional icons
Step 3

Then set the map associated with the Campaign – the one you already created as part of the preparation.

Step 4

There are some extra settings you can use to customize the data, questions, and visibility of the Campaign: 

If you don’t require a name field for the site contributions, each entry will automatically get an id. You can set a prefix for that id, so that browsing through data on the map will be easier. For the old trees campaign example, since it is not required that participants give a name to the site, I could add the prefix “Old tree”. This way all entries will be of the form “Old tree 602f9d163165ac0100aaf000”, “Old tree 323f9d163165ac0100aaf111”, so it’s clear I’m looking at a list of old trees entries.

If instead you would like to collect a Name for the site, you can set a custom question, for example: “What is the name of this place?” You also have this option for the description field. These are of great use if you want to collect some information about the site, but you don’t want to define custom attributes for icons. 

You also have the option to restrict participation to registered users. By default, anonymous contributors, without being logged in, can also submit answers to Campaigns.

Step 5

And finally, make your Campaign public, so that people can start participating!

Once the Campaign is public, it will be accessible from Campaigns in the menu, and ready for contributions. Remember the attributes we defined for the Old Tree icon? These will now show up as questions:

Icon attributes in the Campaign

If you’re curious to see Campaigns in action, you can check out our Mapping Berlin Soundscapes Campaign over at, and visit some sites already submitted here.

As you can see, Campaigns open many possibilities for engaging more easily with collaborators to crowdsource data for your projects. You can easily get contributions from anyone, whether they have an account on the platform or not. You can also shape the data you collect based on your needs, with custom icons and questions. We hope you will try it out.