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today Enrico Steiger successfully defended his PhD thesis about “Explorative Spatial and Temporal Human Mobility Analysis from User-Generated Data” at GIScience Heidelberg University.

The massive amount of pervasive, user-generated data creates new possibilities to discover and utilize geographic information. Tied in with this novel role of actively participating users, is a growing research challenge where the reliability of user-generated social media data as a useful and trustworthy source for the discovery of geographic information is questionable. Despite ongoing research efforts to utilize user-generated datasets in various application domains, there is a lack of methods for spatial analysis that consider the quantity and credibility of these new data types from location-based social networks such as Twitter.
Furthermore, only sporadic research attempts have been made that investigate the spatial processes of people and their social activities reflected in social media for the study of human mobility.
The dissertation introduces novel concepts, techniques and analysis methods for the exploration of spatiotemporal and semantic patterns of human social activities from usergenerated social media data. The main focus of the conducted research is to investigate the possibilities of characterizing spatial structures and underlying human mobility patterns, in order to assess the reliability of uncertain social media information and given spatial, temporal and semantic attribute characteristics.

We concratulate him cordially to this fine work. Well done Enrico! :-)

The thesis is related to the following four main and three additional publications:

Steiger, E., de Albuquerque, J. P., Zipf, A. (2015): An advanced systematic literature review on spatiotemporal analyses of Twitter data. Transactions in GIS. (Published online) DOI:10.1111/tgis.12132

Steiger, E., Westerholt, R., Resch, B., Zipf, A. (2015): Twitter as an indicator for whereabouts of people? Correlating Twitter with UK census data. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, CEUS, 54, pp. 255-265. DOI:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2015.09.007

Steiger, E., Resch, B., Zipf, A. (2015): Exploration of spatiotemporal and semantic clusters of Twitter data using unsupervised neural networks. International Journal of Geographic Information Science, IJGIS (Published online) DOI:10.1080/13658816.2015.1099658

Steiger, E., Resch, B., de Albuquerque, J. P., Zipf, A.: Mining and correlating traffic events from human sensors observations with official transport data using self-organizing maps. Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies. (minor revision)

Steiger, E., Lauer, J. Ellersiek, T. Zipf, A. (2014): Towards a framework for automatic geographic feature extraction from Twitter. Eighth International Conference on Geographic Information Science. Vienna, Austria.

Steiger, E., Ellersiek, T., Zipf, A. (2014): Explorative public transport flow analysis from uncertain social media data. Third ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Crowdsourced and Volunteered Geographic Information (GEOCROWD) 2014. In conjunction with ACM SIGSPATIAL 2014. Dallas, TX, USA. DOI:10.1145/2676440.2676444

Steiger, E., Ellersiek, T., Resch, B., Zipf, A. (2015): Uncovering latent mobility patterns from Twitter during mass events. In: Strobl, J., Blaschke, T., Griesebner, G. (Eds.). full paper GI_Forum - Journal for Geographic Information Science, 1-2015, pp. 525-534. DOI:10.1553/giscience2015s525

Further Enrico published some additional publications related to social media, VGI, OSM and OpenRouteService.

Recently a new 3 year EU project in the HORIZON 2020 programme has been accepted and is about to start now.

WeGovNow is aiming at using state-of-the-art digital technologies in community engagement platforms to engage citizens in decision making processes within their local neighbourhood. It aims at bringing together multiple citizen-driven systems into a single platform which will allows people to:

- Report, suggest and discuss improvements to their local area
- explore ways to fix problems through collective action
- find solutions for resource shortages affecting the quality of publicly provided services
- debate topics of a strategic nature
- develop and vote upon concrete suggestions for local policy action

Underlying this platform is the use of VGI and PSI datasets and the accommodation of different user perspectives and experience. Therefore, it is important to address aspects such as the quality of the data used and the best methods for conveying this quality information to the different end users.

At GIScience Heidelberg, the focus of the research will be on:

- Methods for deriving quality metrics for VGI and PSI data to enable the determination of fitness-for-use
- Identify and implement suitable methods for portraying data quality information to different types of users
- Derive techniques for importing PSI data into the WeGovNow platform (and OSM where applicable) including the georeferencing of data lacking geographic coordinates.

Project partners include:
- Empirica (Lead)
- GIScience Heidelberg University
- Mapping for Change
- University College London
- Università degli Studi di Turino
- Infalia PC
- FlexiGuided GmbH
- Funka Nu AB
- Citta di Torino
- Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini
- Comune di San Donà di Piave
- London Borough of Southwark

The GIScience Research Group at Heidelberg joined the OSGE GeoForAll initiative and network as an Open Source Geospatial Laboratory and Research Center.
GIScience Heidelberg is supporting free and open GI software, open GI standards (OGC), open Geo-Data (e.g. OpenStreetMap and other VGI), open access publication and GIS education in many ways.
This is demonstrated already in numerous examples, such as the development and provision of free GI services and open source tools as well as the usage, improvement and advocating of open spatial data in education and through development and research as well as through the organization of related workshops and events (e.g. OSM mappathons). We are happy to strengthen our activities in those areas.
Further detailled information about available services, tools, publications and open data related activities and teaching can be found on http://uni-heidelberg.de/gis/.

Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Applications has now made it possible for a large number of private and government agencies and academics in both developed and developing countries to make use of geospatial software for applications in GIS, spatial database management, and remote sensing in many application domains. GIS without spatial data is not usful. Therefore we do advocate and support the availability of free and open Geographical Information from different sources, including Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) in multiple ways through education and research, as well as the development of relevant tools and services.

GeoForAll is a joint initiative by OSGeo, ICA and ISPRS with over hundred partners worldwide.

The Network Geoinformation GeoNet.MRN analyses and discusses the needs and challenges of providing an infrastructure for electromobility (e.g. charging stations) in the Metropolitan Region Rhine-Neckar. (Article in German). GeoNet.MRN also produced a nice map showing the current distribution of charging stations in this region. Thank you Hartmut, nice work!

Also the need for detailled geoinformation for advanced routing services, including precise information on inclines and height profiles etc. is being stressed. In particular this is still a challenge for Open Data. A typical use case is the need to calculate the accessibility of locations and driving times.

Related work: Routing plus Accessibility Service, OSM GPS Incline Tool etc.

Wir freuen uns, dass das Netzwerk Geoinformation der Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar auch dieses Jahr wieder den Fachaustausch Geoinformation in der besonderen Atmosphäre der Print Media Academy, Heidelberg ausrichten wird. Die zentrale Netzwerkkonferenz des GeoNet.MRN e.V. hat sich mit 150 - 200 Besuchern (Tendenz steigend) als Austauschplattform inzwischen etabliert und wird dieses Jahr am 24.11.2015 stattfinden.

Merken Sie sich den Termin schon jetzt in Ihrem Kalender vor!

Der Fachaustausch Geoinformation dient der Vernetzung und dem Erfahrungsaustausch zwischen Interessenten, Experten, Nutzern und Entscheidungsträgern aus Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft, Politik und Verwaltung über Anwendungsmöglichkeiten und aktuelle Themen von Regionaldaten und Geographischen Informationssystemen. Die Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar strebt an, Digitale Modellregion zu werden. GeoNet.MRN e.V. unterstützt dieses Ziel und wird auf dem Fachaustausch Geoinformation 2016 die Leitthemen Digitalisierung, SmartCity und SmartRegion adressieren.


Now the book “Spatial Information Theory” has been published in electronic and print format. It includes full papers from the COSIT - CONFERENCE ON SPATIAL INFORMATION THEORY XII 2015, including our paper:

Ballatore, A. and Zipf, A. (2015): A Conceptual Quality Framework for Volunteered Geographic Information. In: Fabrikant, S.I., Raubal, M., Bertolotto, M., Davies, C., Freundschuh, S., Bell, S. (Eds.): Spatial Information Theory. 12th International Conference, COSIT 2015, Santa Fe, NM, USA, October 12-16, 2015, Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp. 89-107.

The assessment of the quality of volunteered geographic information (VGI) is cornerstone to understand the fitness for purpose of datasets in many application domains. While most analyses focus on geometric and positional quality, only sporadic attention has been devoted to the interpretation of the data, i.e., the communication process through which consumers try to reconstruct the meaning of information intended by its producers. Interpretability is a notoriously ephemeral, culturally rooted, and context-dependent property of the data that concerns the conceptual quality of the vocabularies, schemas, ontologies, and documentation used to describe and annotate the geographic features of interest.

To operationalize conceptual quality in VGI, we propose a multi-faceted framework that includes accuracy, granularity, completeness, consistency, compliance, and richness, proposing proxy measures for each dimension.
The application of the framework is illustrated in a case study on a European sample of OpenStreetMap, focused specifically on conceptual compliance.

uuuhh, we just realized that we have the most cited papers in both the “ISPRS International Journal of Geographic Information” (IJGI) as well as in the journal “Future Internet” (according to the journals counting). Additionally also in both most cited lists of the two journals we each have a paper on place four. Further two more papers from our group are among the top 10 most cited papers list in “Future Internet”. While these are some earlier examples of VGI studies, of course one shouldn’t forget further work since then. As speaking of ISPRS IJGI we like to mention just our very latest papers that have most recently been published there:

Yang, A., H. Fan, N. Jing, Y. Sun & A. Zipf (2016): Temporal Analysis on Contribution Inequality in OpenStreetMap: A Comparative Study for Four Countries. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 5(1), 5.

Dorn, H., Törnros, T. & Zipf, A. (2015): Quality Evaluation of VGI using Authoritative Data – A Comparison with Land Use Data in Southern Germany. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. Vol 4(3), pp. 1657-1671, doi: 10.3390/ijgi4031657

Enjoy exploring more in several other journals and conferences.

The Stats:
Top 1 IJGI:

Neis, P. & Zipf, A. (2012): Analyzing the Contributor Activity of a Volunteered Geographic Information Project – The Case of OpenStreetMap. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. Vol.1(2), pp.146-165. MDPI. DOI:10.3390/ijgi1020146

Top 4 IJGI:

Neis, P., Goetz, M. & Zipf, A. (2012): Towards Automatic Vandalism Detection in OpenStreetMap. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. Vol.1(3), pp.315-332. DOI:10.3390/ijgi1030315.

Top 1 Future Internet:

Neis, P., Zielstra, D. & Zipf, A. (2012): The Street Network Evolution of Crowdsourced Maps - OpenStreetMap in Germany 2007-2011. Future Internet. Vol.4, pp.1-21. DOI 10.3390/fi4010001

Top 4 Future Internet:

Neis, P., Zielstra, D. & Zipf, A. (2013): Comparison of Volunteered Geographic Information Data Contributions and Community Development for Selected World Regions. Future Internet. Vol. 5, pp. 282-300. doi:10.3390/fi5020282

Dear Colleagues,

Geographic data are produced or collected by scientists in different ways to study environmental problems. Although online geographic data are accessible across the globe, there is a lack of a unique platform than enables scientists to share geographic data produced locally. Such a lack of scientific data communication has limited scholars to share datasets in a professional and credible way. A large portion of innovative and novel ideas could not come to action due to unavailability of data or the scientific findings could have never been retested and verified, as the data have been always kept as a “black box”.

Thanks to the recent efforts on supporting reproducible research and credible scientific data, scholars may publish their data in the scientific media and give credit to their data collection and data processing efforts. There are two groups of geographic data that are encouraged to be shared with other scholars: 1) geographical data, which are newly generated from scratch, and 2) geographical data produced as outcome of data processing. Nowadays, scientific communities attempt to make the scientific data transparent, so that the behind-the-scenes of data is also shared and published.

We would like to invite you to submit articles addressing the process of geographic data collection, acquisition, processing, and management, so that these data will be (re)used by other scholars and add value to the preliminary published results from them. Potential datasets include, but are not limited to, data and methods on:

  • Earth observation systems (e.g., remote sensing, geo-sensor networks)
  • Citizen observatories
  • Public health
  • Biodiversity, farming, forestry, environment, and ecology
  • Climate change
  • Geological measurements
  • Social networks and social media (e.g., Twitter, Flickr, Instagram)
  • Open source data and open government data
  • Archaeology, culture, tourism
  • Point cloud data (e.g., LiDAR)
  • Natural hazards and disasters
  • Movement data (e.g., GPS)
  • Mobile phone data
  • Indoor and outdoor environments
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle and drones

Guest editors:

Dr. Jamal Jokar Arsanjani
Dr. Marco Helbich
Dr. Amin Tayyebi
Dr. Amit Birenboim

Further information can be found at http://www.mdpi.com/journal/data/special_issues/geospatial_data

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2016

Parallel to the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, volunteered geographic information (VGI) has emerged as a novel form of user-generated content, which involves both active forms of contribution such as online mapping or the explicit georeferencing of various media as well as the passive collection of data via the user’s location-enabled smartphone. Due to an abundance of corresponding VGI platforms and Location Based Social Networks (LBSN), there are now massive datasets, which are freely available and have the potential to complement, update or even replace data obtained from traditional sources such as commercial vendors, public authorities or mapping agencies. However, due to inherent characteristics of VGI, which mostly result from a lack of formal specifications, exploiting its full potential is still challenging and in need of issues such as quality assessment, data integration or standardization to be addressed.

Active research is ongoing that addresses many of these issues including initiatives such as COST Action networks TD1202 (Mapping and Citizen Sensor) and IC1203 (ENERGIC), which bring together researchers across the EU to address many pressing issues related to VGI. The European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) and its counterpart in the USA (Citizen Science Association) are also strong alliances of public and private organizations involved in research of relevance to VGI, among many others in a growing field of interest.

A Special Issue in the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information is dedicated to explore current trends with regards to the technological, methodological, conceptual and social dimensions of VGI. We call for original papers, equally from both within the COST Actions, citizen science associations and from researchers around the world, which focus on all topics involving the collection, processing, analysis and general use of VGI.

Special Issue Editors
Prof. Dr. Alexander Zipf (GIScience Heidelberg)
Mr. David Jonietz (GIScience Heidelberg)
Dr. Vyron Antoniou (Hellenic Army Academy)
Dr. Linda See (IIASA Austria)

We are happy to invite to two open colloquium talks by Dr. Eric Delmelle, Associate Professor, Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University North Carolina Charlotte about the two interesting topics:

“Evaluating Travel Impedance Agreement among Online Road Network Data Providers” & “Visualizing the dynamics of health-related tweets: opportunities and computational challenges”

The talks will be on Wednesday Feb 17, 2016 4.15 pm, Hörsaal Berliner Straße 48, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University.

Further information can be found here

Evaluating Travel Impedance Agreement among Online Road Network Data Providers

Online mapping providers offer unprecedented access to spatial data and analytical tools; however the number of analytical queries that can be requested is usually limited. As such, providers using Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) offer a viable alternative, given that the quality of the underlying spatial data is adequate. In this presentation, I will present results of an analysis aimed at assessing the agreement in travel distance estimates between Mapquest Open–which embraces OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, a VGI dataset-, and two other popular commercial providers, namely Google Maps™ and ArcGIS™ Online. We use a routing service Application Program Interface (API), to estimate travel impedance and the average number of OSM contributors. Origin-destination pairs are simulated for the state of North Carolina, U.S.A., and travel estimates reported for each of the providers. Results suggest (1) a strong correlation among all three road network providers, (2) agreement improves with increasing route distances and (3) decreases in areas with denser road network as providers may select different routes from a larger number of potential paths. Most importantly, travel estimates from Mapquest Open exhibit stronger similarity with both commercial providers when the average number of OSM contributors along the selected path is larger.

Visualizing the dynamics of health-related tweets: opportunities and computational challenges

Twitter, a form of social media, provides endless opportunities for public health. Information on disease symptoms, generated by twitter users, may alert health officials on the risk posed by a certain disease before it can be detected and officially confirmed in a lab. Certain tweets are georeferenced, and coupled with their temporal stamps, they have the potential to be used for space-time monitoring of diseases. This is particularly important to better understand disease dynamics, such as seasonality, direction, intensity and risk of diffusion to new regions. In this presentation, I will focus on the computational challenges associated to infer meaningful information from twitter related data, with an application to pollen-related tweets. I will then discuss a space-time framework to visualize the intensity of collected tweets in both space and time. I will discuss the impact of positional, temporal and attribute accuracy on the detection of space-time clusters from health-related tweets.

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