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We are organizing a workshop at the AGILE 2019 conference which will be held this June in Limassol, Cyprus. The workshop is titled as “VGI HATcH – Using Volunteered Geographic Information for Help and Assistance in Transport and Humanitarian operations”. Consider submitting your contributions. Looking forward to seeing you there!

This full-day workshop provides an opportunity for interested researchers and practitioners to share ideas and findings on innovative methods for the spatio-temporal analysis of crowd-sourced data, to demonstrate real-world applications using data from different crowd-sourcing platforms, and to discuss technical questions and innovations on data access and data fusion. The first portion of the workshop consists of short paper presentations under the general workshop theme. The second portion focuses on showcasing practical applications of VGI and social media. This includes but is not limited to: demonstrations of successful examples of using VGI/social media for humanitarian operations; use of VGI/social media for decision support in government on health societal or transport issues; use of VGI/social media or Open Data for improvement of base maps; short tutorials or demonstration of VGI/social media data analysis methods and data extraction from various online resources. Accepted papers and abstracts will be uploaded to the workshop Website. The workshop editors plan to host a special issue in the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information journal as a follow up to the workshop. Workshop presenters will be invited to submit full papers.

We are looking for short paper or demo submissions in this domain.

VGI HATcH Workshop Topics

The principal topics for consideration in the workshop are outlined as follows:

  • Use of VGI/social media in emergency/crisis detection and humanitarian operations
  • Mobility analysis, green transportation, and health in the context of big data
  • Real world applications of VGI/social media in crisis management, health, urban and transportation planning
  • VGI/social media and decision support and government
  • VGI/social media and open data
  • Activity patterns for individual users across multiple VGI/social media platforms
  • Introduction of novel VGI or social media data sources
  • Recent developments in spatial data access from VGI/social media platforms (e.g. APIs, frameworks)
  • Joint analysis and data fusion of VGI/social media from different sources
  • Data privacy and accessibility

VGI-HATcH: Call for Contributions

This workshop welcomes two types of contributions:
1) Short paper: Submission format is a workshop short paper (2000 to 3000-word manuscript). Authors are requested to follow the formatting guidelines for short paper submissions on the AGILE 2019 call for papers page and use theWord .doc template or the Word .docx template.
(2) Abstracts for demonstration/short tutorial: Provide an abstract (up to 250 words) describing the proposed VGI/social media application showcase, or software/analysis/programming demo or tutorial.

Short papers and abstracts should be submitted directly via e-mail to Dr. Levente Juhász at ljuhasz AT fiu DOT edu.

VGI-HATcH Important Dates

  • 15 April 2019: Submission deadline for workshop papers
  • 29 April 2019: Notification of acceptance for workshop papers
  • 06 May 2019: Early Registration Ends
  • 07 June 2019: Camera ready copies of workshop papers due
  • 17 June 2019: VGI-HATcH Workshop at AGILE 2019

More info can be found on the workshop website at http://www.cs.nuim.ie/~pmooney/vgi-hatch2019/. Any questions, feel free to ask.

Workshop organizers:

We are proud to organise VGI-HATcH as another AGILE pre-conference workshop which is part of series of successful previous workshops. Indeed we as workshop organisers have been working together in this research area for several years now.

This is your first blog of the ohsome series? Before you might be confronted with any potential spoilers, you should better check out the first and the second part of this blog series (or the intro  to the idea and general architecture) to be on the safe side and up to date with the current content.

So here we are again, back with a new blog of the how to become ohsome series. As promised last time, we will take a look at different mapping/tagging schemes. Therefore, we will query OpenStreetMap (OSM) history data from two different cities and compare the usage of the building tag. The chosen cities are both of similar size (roughly 150k inhabitants), but situated in two different European countries: Salzburg in Austria and Oxford in Great Britain. We will use the elements/count/groupBy/tag resource of the ohsome API to get our results grouped on different tags. Speaking of tags, we use the four most frequent building tags from taginfoyeshouseresidential and garage. The requests are built with the following parameters:

bpolys=[respective GeoJSON FeatureCollection]

Our two requests contain the spatial component bpolys, having the two GeoJSON boundaries from our two regions, one for each request. You can derive these boundaries, or any other boundary from this website.

The temporal parameter time describes a time frame from 2010-01-01 to 2018-07-01 in a half-year interval (P6M stands for 6 months). This means we will get 18 results, two for every year at the first of January and the first of July respectively.

The format=csv parameter tells the API that we are interested in getting a csv file as a response, which we want to load directly into a spreadsheet program, e.g. Excel.

The types and keys parameters are our first two attributive filters, explaining that we want to query OSM way features that have any building tag assigned to them. Via the last two attributive parameters groupByKey and groupByValues, we define on which tags the grouping should be based.

Please also notice the naming of the parameters in respect to singular vs. plural: Parameters like format, or groupByKey can only contain zero or one value, whereas others like keys, or groupByValues can contain zero or more.

To make your life tweaking the API easier, we’ve created another snippet that includes the cURL requests, the parameters, as just described, as well as a view on one of the returned responses.

After the responses are returned, we can load the content into our spreadsheet program and create the following two diagrams:

The first one shows the number of buildings having the requested tags for Oxford. Additionally to the 4 tags, we see a category called remainder, which represents the number for all other building tags. Looking at the results, the most used building tag since 2012 is building=house, where it surpassed the second most frequent building=yes tag.

The second diagram gives us the numbers for Salzburg. What probably jumps into one’s eyes at first sight are the long orange bars referring to the tag building=yes. This generic tag takes by far the biggest margin of the visualized tag distribution, having between 1300 and 26000 occurrences at the requested timestamps. In comparison to that, building=house only has between 0 and 132 occurrences.

In this 3rd part of how to become ohsome, we’ve demonstrated how you can take a look at different tagging schemes through using the ohsome API to query OSM’s history. You want to learn more about how to use our ohsome framework? Take a look at other blog posts (12345).

You want to give us feedback? Just write an email to info@heigit.org. You want to know something about the next blog post? Subscribe to our ohsome blog posts using this link to the rss feed. The next episode might tell you how to analyze historical OSM data on a global scale. So sty tuned ;-)

Last week, Michael Schultz (GIScience Research Group) attended the Humanitarian Technology Days 2019 that was organized by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) as a representative of the GIScience Research Group/ HeiGIT and of our collaboration with German Red Cross.

For two days, around 80 scientists, humanitarian actors and funding organisations gathered in Oberpfaffenhofen to discuss and exchange latest research and technologies, all with the focus on supporting humanitarian practice. The main aim of the event was to connect and facilitate exchange of academia, tech providers and developers, humanitarian organisations and funding agencies- to enable the development of innovative solutions to current challenges and to improve current workflows and approaches.

Michael Schultz presented the work of the HeiGIT/ GIScience Research Group and the collaborative projects with the German Red Cross around the use of open geodata for international humanitarian practice in the World Cafe. Due to the great interest of the participants, he furthermore lead one of the Demo sessions the following day to further discuss potential collaborative project ideas. See the full program here.

During the event, DLR and representatives of the World Food Program signed a Memorandum of Understanding to “develop and implement key technologies in order to defeat global hunger by 2030.” and “to establishing a common ‘Thought Leadership’ to connect research and development activities with the development of new, future-oriented projects.”(DLR 2019)

These aims are very much in line with objectives of the HeiGIT and GIScience Research Group in Heidelberg and we are looking forward to seeing further exchange and collaboration of humanitarian actors, academia and decision makers - and to be part and to support through our expertise, skills and experience.

We thank all participants for their interest and great exchanges and are hoping to start turning the discussed ideas into action soon!

HeiGIT members Melanie Eckle and Martin Hilljegerdes were invited to the “Digital in civil protection” congress of the Landesverband Westfalen-Lippe in Münster to share insights and to present current activities all around “Potentials of Open Data and Digital Humanitarians for civil protection“. They shared experiences and impacts of the collaborative efforts of the Missing Maps project and related work of the GIScience/ HeiGIT team, including openrouteservice for disaster management and ohsome osm analytics.

The presentation was supported by Stefan Scholz of the General Secretariat of the German Red Cross (GRC) who shared experiences about the collaboration with the GIScience/ HeiGIT Team and the impact of open geoinformation, geo technologies and humanitarian mapping for the international and national GRC operations.

The HeiGIT and GRC representatives furthermore showed how national and regional GRC volunteers can get involved in these international efforts, and how they can support as well as benefit from them. Moreover, participants learned how they can make use OSM data, the presented workflows and services for their regional activities.

The event was attended by different members of regional and local German Red Cross entities as well as representatives from universities and research institutes. Participants discussed current developments around the use of digital technologies and data, as well as related challenges and potentials. Find further information about the event here.

The event already lead to several ideas around further collaboration in practical activities and research and we are very looking forward to taking these first impulses further.

DRK goes Digital

From their beginnings some 4,000 years ago to their decadence around 400 b.c., the Olmec people achieved a high level of sociopolitical complexity and dominated their native geographic territory, the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico. The first Olmec capital of San Lorenzo, Veracruz, was the only site in Mesoamerica that produced imposing monumental stone sculpture and architecture between 1800 and 1000 b.c. These characteristics reflect the capabilities of its centralized political system headed by hereditary rulers with divine legitimation. Key issues regarding the development of San Lorenzo Olmec culture center on subsistence and environment. The present study focuses on a portion of the landscape located immediately north of the first Olmec capital of San Lorenzo, Veracruz, that has been proposed as a key resource area during the development of the first civilization in Mesoamerica. We calculate the surface, volume, and water depth of this area based on archaeological data and a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) derived from an airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey. The expected minimum and maximum area, local minimum altitude, and the DTM of 5-m spatial resolution provide a basis for inferences regarding the characteristics of the wetland ecosystem during Olmec times. The goal is to quantify and qualify the potential of this resource zone relying on LiDAR topography. Our models validate the observations in the field and, when combined with algorithms, they confirm the archaeological conclusions. We affirm that the northern plain in Olmec times was deeper than it is today and would have been a source of abundant aquatic resources for the primary subsistence of the early Olmec society.

Ramírez-Núñez, C., Cyphers, A., Parrot, J.-F. & Höfle, B. (2019): Multidirectional Interpolation of LiDAR Data from Southern Veracruz, Mexico: Implications for Early Olmec Subsistence. Ancient Mesoamerica. Cambridge University Press.

Three invited speakers are now joining the compact course and workshop STAP19 on Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Geographic Phenomena organized by the 3DGeo and FCGL at IWR in Heidelberg.

Dr. Gottfried Mandlburger (Institute for Photogrammetry, University of Stuttgart) will give a talk on methods of feature and information extraction from geographic 3D point clouds. He is a main developer of the point cloud processing software OPALS (GEO Department, TU Vienna). A hands-on introduction to geographic point cloud analysis with OPALS will follow up his talk.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Nüchter (Institute of Computer Science, University of Würzburg) is joining for a session on state-of-the-art methods of 3D point cloud processing. He is head of the open source project 3D-Toolkit (3DTK), a powerful package of algorithms and methods for 3D processing. A practical exercise using 3DTK will complement this session.

Jorge Martínez-Sánchez (CiTIUS, University of Santiago de Compostela) is joining STAP19 as core developer of the LiDAR simulation framework HELIOS. He will present recent developments in the software project as well as its versatile application possibilities, which will further be part of the Programming and Research Challenge of the workshop.

Details and the most recent program can be found on the STAP19 website. There are still a few spots available – register for participation until 15th February 2019!

Follow STAP19 updates on this blog and Twitter: #STAP19

STAP19 is in part supported by the Heidelberg Graduate School of Mathematical and Computational Methods for the Sciences (HGS MathComp), founded by DFG grant GSC 220 in the German Universities Excellence Initiative.

OpenMapSurfer is the name of a web tile service based on OpenStreetMap data developed by Maxim Rylov and hosted by the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology. The map style is a general purpose “basemap” layer featuring some unique properties, such as high cartographic quality label placement, see floor bathymetry, and a pleasant warm color scheme.

Screenshot of OpenMapSurfer tiles

OpenMapSurfer was initially presented in early 2012 and has thus been online for over 7 years now. This meant that the tile server (korona.geog.uni-heidelberg.de), which had already surpassed it’s hardware’s expected lifespan by a significant margin, had to be replaced by something new. We have deployed the map styles offered by OpenMapSurfer on the brand new cloud computing environment by Heidelberg University (heiCLOUD).

The tiles can now be accessed through the openrouteservice api. Please sign up there and request an API token. Currently, requests are limited to 40 tiles per second which will be increased. If you need more than that, please send us an email to support@openrouteservice.org with your API token/key and HTTP origin (referrer) from which the requests will be made.

Wanna check out more GIScience Heidelberg OSM Web Maps? What about e.g. osm-wms.de, histosm.org, osmatrix, osmlanduse.org or the climate protection map?


Editors: R Westerholt , F-B Mocnik, A Comber, C Davies, D Burghardt, and A Zipf

A place for place – modelling and analysing platial representations

Places are understood as locations and areas to which anthropogenic meaning is ascribed. As such, places have been of central interest to philosophers and geographers for a long time, and a large stack of mostly discursive and qualitative literature evolved around this topic. Talking about digital and formal representations of places, however, the inherent vagueness of the aforementioned definition has so far hindered significant progress towards a platial notion of GIS. Place as a concept in the field of GIScience is therefore still in its infancy. Some progress has been made recently, but a consistent theory of how to characterise, represent and utilize places in formal ways is still lacking. A place-based account of GIS and analysis is nevertheless important in the light of the plethora of increasingly place-based information that we have available in an increasingly digital world. Digital technologies are nowadays strongly integrated into everyday life. As a result, a large number of especially urban datasets (e.g., geosocial media feeds, online blogs, etc.) mirror to some degree how people utilise places in subjective and idiosyncratic manners. Taking full advantage of these often user-generated datasets requires a thorough understanding of places. It also makes apparent the pressing need for respective models of representation, analytical approaches, and visualisation methods. This demand reflected by recent events like the PLATIAL’18 workshop lays out the motivation of convening this special issue.

We are seeking your original contributions on the following topics (and beyond if fitting):

  • How can we move forward the integration of platial information with GIS?
  • How can we integrate and align GIScience notions of place with existing human-geographic and philosophical notions?
  • How is it possible to establish and quantify relationships between adjacent places?
  • What might be a suitable strategy for aggregating subjective platial information?
  • What roles do uncertainty and fuzziness take in a platial theory of geoinformation?
  • In which ways can places be visualised, and how can we do that at multiple scales?
  • What can we learn about places from volunteered and ambient geographic information?
  • How can platial analysis be integrated with applied research agendas from neighbouring disciplines like sociology, urban planning, or human geography?
  • Further topics are welcome if they fit the overall theme of this special issue
Important dates and anticipated timeline:

30 March 2019

Deadline: Full paper submission

15 June 2019

Anticipated paper acceptance notification

1 July 2019

Camera-ready papers are due

1 August (anticipated)

Publication of the special issue

Further Info (pdf)

As part of the lecture “Geodatenerfassung”, geography students in their first semester turned theory of digital geodata acquisition into practice. Based on their aims and requirements, the students acquired geodata with different methods and sensors. Using a high-end Riegl VZ-2000i terrestrial laser scanner, two groups captured the old town of Heidelberg and a limestone quarry as 3D point clouds and thereby learnt how to define a proper scan setup according to their geographical application. Other groups used their smart phones for noise mapping, the creation of photogrammetric models of a church or the evaluation of the quality of cycle paths in Heidelberg.

The objective of this practical exercise is to get in touch with latest methods, sensors and concepts for the acquisition of digital geodata, since this is an essential part of geographic work in science and practice. For individual geodata acquisition methods (e.g. user-generated geodata on the web or 3D laser scanning), the GIScience and 3DGeo research groups regularly offer special courses for further in-depth training.

You might be interested in reading about latest teaching activities in Morocco or Austria in our GIScience News Blog.

Auch dieses Jahr geht das Ausstellungsschiff MS Wissenschaft auf Tour. Im Fokus steht das Thema Künstliche Intelligenz (KI). Mit an Bord das Exponat „Micro-Mapping“, das wir am HeiGIT in Kooperation mit dem Alfred-Wegener-Institut erstellen.

Unser Exponat stellt die Bedeutung des Menschen, besser gesagt: einer Menschenmenge („Crowd“), bei der Entwicklung von KI in den Vordergrund. Es wird erläutert wie Freiwillige durch visuelle Interpretation von Fernerkundungsbildern der Maschine dabei helfen komplexe Erkennungsmuster zu erlernen. Die Besucher/-innen können selbst Trainingsdaten für maschinelles Lernen spielerisch in Sekundenschnelle mit Hilfe von „Micro-Mapping“ generieren. Im Mittelpunkt stehen dabei zwei Anwendungsbeispiele aus den Geo- und Klimawissenschaften: Das „Mappen“ von Gebäuden, sowie das Erkennen von Landoberflächenstrukturen in arktischen Permafrostregionen.

Weiterführende Information zum „Micro-Mapping” + KI:

Porto de Albuquerque, J., B. Herfort, M. Eckle (2016): The Tasks of the Crowd: A Typology of Tasks in Geographic Information Crowdsourcing and a Case Study in Humanitarian Mapping. Remote Sensing. 2016, 8(10), 859; doi:10.3390/rs8100859.

Herfort, B., Höfle, B. & Klonner, C. (2018): 3D micro-mapping: Towards assessing the quality of crowdsourcing to support 3D point cloud analysis. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Vol. 137, pp. 73 -83.

Chen, J., Y. Zhou, A. Zipf and H. Fan (2018): Deep Learning from Multiple Crowds: A Case Study of Humanitarian Mapping. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (TGRS). 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1109/TGRS.2018.2868748

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