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Mocnik, F-J (2021)

Benford's law and geographical information - the example of OpenStreetMap

International Journal of Geographical Information Science.

ISSN/ISBN: Not available at this time. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2020.1829627

Abstract: Few laws about geographical information are known, partly because geographical information is inherently complex. Tobler’s rst law of Geography and, to a lesser degree, also his second law are among the rare exceptions. In this article, we explore the validity of Benford’s law in the context of the example of OpenStreetMap. More speci cally, we compare the distribution of several numerical features of geographical entities to the Benford distribution. It is demonstrated that the numerical features exam- ined are in accordance with Benford’s law to a varying degree with little variation between the types of geographical entities. Spatial patterns in the deviation from Benford’s law are shown to be similar for some aspects but to strongly di er for other ones. We show that many aspects of the data tend to deviate more than average from the Benford distribution in Africa, Greenland, smaller island coun- tries, and, to a lesser degree, in South America. Also, the scale- dependency of Benford’s law is explored. Motivated by the use of Benford’s law to detect indications for fraud in economic and other datasets, future prospects and limitations to systematically develop intrinsic data quality measures are discussed.

@article{, author = {Franz-Benjamin Mocnik}, title = {Benford’s law and geographical information -- the example of {OpenStreetMap}}, journal = {International Journal of Geographical Information Science}, volume = {0}, number = {0}, pages = {1-27}, year = {2021}, doi = {10.1080/13658816.2020.1829627}, url = {}, }

Reference Type: Journal Article

Subject Area(s): Natural Sciences