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We cordially invite all interested to our forthcoming talk in the GIScience colloquium next Monday, December 12, about quantifying trade-offs between land use and ecosystem services. Jun.-Prof. Sven Lautenbach will provide an overview of methods to assess the different environmental goods and services produced by land systems. Policy makers are in want of such information to inform decisions in land use planning.

Land use and ecosystem services - quantifying trade-offs

Sven Lautenbach, Junior-Professor for Land use Modelling and Ecosystem services, Agricultural Faculty, University of Bonn

One main focus of the GIScience Research Group is the research and education with respect to advancing methods, technologies and applications of Volunteered Geographic Information - in particular OpenStreetMap - for applications from logistics to humanitarian aid. In this vein, the group has been also been supporting the work of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HOT) team for several years with OSM and disaster related research and applications as well as by organizing mapping events.

These activities also led to the launch of the disastermappers heidelberg which are organizing mapping events, webinars and workshops in close relationship with the HOT team to enable students and researchers to learn more about OpenStreetMap, possible applications of the OSM data and the work of HOT.

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team coordinates an international mapping community with which they map the vulnerable and disaster prone places in our world. Moreover, it supports local mapping communities to enable local development and disaster preparedness. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team and the international contributors thereby fill gaps in the worldwide OpenStreetMap and create a valuable data treasure.

Building on these previous activities, the GIScience and disastermappers are happy to now support the yearly fundraising campaign of the HOT team. The focus hereby being on micro-grants which will allow to spark and support international local HOT/ OSM community-led projects. Thereby more communities and volunteers will have the chance to become part of this community and benefit of the OSM data for their local needs.

Sounds interesting? If you want to learn more about the campaign and how to support, please visit:


or join us in todays HOT Christmas Mapping Event, starting at 6 pm in the Geographical Institute!

2016 social media mapthedifference (1).jpg

On Saturday 3rd December 2016 the CAP4Access team from GIScience group of Heidelberg university led a Wheelmap mapping event on the ocassion of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) at Heidelberg.

Wheelmap.org is a map for finding wheelchair accessible places and it is run by one of our CAP4Access project partners, the nonprofit organization Sozialhelden e.V.. The map is based on OpenStreetMap and works similar to Wikipedia which means that anyone can contribute and mark public places around the world according to their wheelchair accessibility. The wheelchair accessibility of a place is rated with a simple traffic light system („green“ = fully, „yellow“ = partially, „red“ = not and „grey“ = unknown wheelchair accessibility).

This time, the aim of the Wheelmap mapping event was to update certain restaurants and shops, that recently purchased a mobile ramp to improve their wheelchair accessibility. The purchasing of mobile ramps in Heidelberg was promoted by the city’s Official Representative for the Disabled Christina Reiß who initiated the campaign “Hürdenlos rein”.

During the mapping event the volunteers checked a list of places that participated in the campaign “Hürdenlos rein” and took photos of the mobile ramps and the wheelramp stickers (cf. figures), that shall draw attention to the provided ramps.

If a place has a mobile ramp and this is easy to see at the entrance, the location can be marked yellow (if the other criteria are also fulfilled). If there is a fixed ramp at a place, the location can be marked green.

The mapping event was successful and we would like to thank all of the volunteers for their help!

Recently we attended the Kick-Off Meeting of the DFG Priority Programme “VGiscience” in Würzburg, in which we are involved through two projects. René Westerholt presented these projects to the audience of all interdisciplinary collaborators. The principal aim of this very first meeting was to explore potential cross-project collaborations, and to outline an envisaged upcoming summer school that will take place in autumn 2017.

GIScience Heidelberg contributes to the priority programme with two VGI related projects that are now starting:

A framework for measuring the fitness for purpose of OpenStreetMap data based on intrinsic quality indicators

The contribution of this project is the systematic identification and connection among intrinsic and extrinsic quality indicators and measurements, across a number of application domains.

Spatial Correlations in Social Media Data: Identification and Quantification of Spatial Correlation Structures in Georeferenced Twitter Feeds

In this project we aim to explore novel ways to derive spatial correlation structures within social media feeds. Our work builds upon the mature theory of spatial autocorrelation, which is the traditional way of measuring spatial structure and combines this with stochastic geometry and related concepts.

These two projects complement other (also VGI-related) projects that have recently started:

  • An agent-based and quality-aware integration of geo-social networks data data integration as a collaborative negotiation process (DFG)
  • LandSense – A Citizen Observatory and Innovation Marketplace for Land Use and Land Cover Monitoring (EU Horizon 2020)
  • WeGovNow – Towards We Government: Collective and participative approaches for addressing local policy challenges (EU Horizon 2020)
  • Crowd FDA - Crowdsourcing for Forensic Disaster Analysis (DFG)
  • Interested readers find more information about all kinds of related topics in the following publications:

    Barron, C., Neis, P. & Zipf, A. (2013): A Comprehensive Framework for Intrinsic OpenStreetMap Quality Analysis. , Transactions in GIS, DOI: 10.1111/tgis.12073

    Ballatore, A. and Zipf, A. (2015): A Conceptual Quality Framework for Volunteered Geographic Information. COSIT - CONFERENCE ON SPATIAL INFORMATION THEORY XII. October 12-16, 2015. Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp. 1-20

    Fan, H., Zipf, A., Fu, Q. & Neis, P. (2014): Quality assessment for building footprints data on OpenStreetMap. International Journal of Geographical Information Science (IJGIS). DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2013.867495.

    Jokar Arsanjani, J., Mooney, P., Helbich, M., Zipf, A., (2015): An exploration of future patterns of the contributions to OpenStreetMap and development of a Contribution Index, Transactions in GIS. John Wiley & Sons. DOI: 10.1111/tgis.12139.

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

    Westerholt, R., Steiger, E., Resch, B. and Zipf, A. (2016): Abundant Topological Outliers in Social Media Data and Their Effect on Spatial Analysis. PLOS ONE, 11 (9), e0162360. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162360.

    Westerholt, R., Resch, B. and Zipf, A. (2015): A local scale-sensitive indicator of spatial autocorrelation for assessing high- and low-value clusters in multi-scale datasets. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 29 (5), 868-887. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2014.1002499.
    You can find a preprint (”as accepted”) here.

    Dear Mapping Enthusiasts,

    in the upcoming week we want to invite you to our last Mapathon of the year 2016!

    When: 08.12.2016, 18:00

    Where: Hörsaal, Berliner Straße 48

    In this mapping event we will map buildings and other infrastructures in Karakol, the fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan, which is located in a seismically active area of Tian Shan.

    To develop an earthquake monitoring network in this area, the German Research Centre for Geoscience (GFZ) is involved in the construction of earthquake early warning systems. These are considered to be an effective, pragmatic and viable tool for seismic risk reduction in cities. The locations of the population and infrastructures are of great importance for the site selection to achieve efficiency in on-site earthquake warning and rapid response.

    More information about this project will be provided at the beginning of the mapping event in an online Skype talk by Massimiliano Pittore of the GFZ Potsdam.

    A detailed introduction into mapping in OpenStreetMap will be provided afterwards to enable everyone to take part and learn more about crisis mapping- therefore no previous knowledge needed, just bring your laptop and mouse if available!

    To get you into the right christmas mood, we will also provide Glühwein, christmas snacks and soft drinks!

    We are looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!

    Recently a book chapter on some of our work in the MayaArch3D project on “Structuring Archaeological Data to Deliver Interactive, Transparent 3D Reconstructions in a 3D WebGIS” has been published in the edited book “3D Research Challenges in Cultural Heritage II”.

    Creating 3D reconstructions is a common approach today in archaeology and cultural heritage. The problem is that 3D models in online virtual research environments may tempt users to believe them as historical truth. What must be done to enable the public to view a 3D reconstruction as a hypothesis and have access to the supporting data? This paper explains – via use-case examples from the ancient Maya city of Copan, Honduras – a procedure for structuring heterogeneous data to enable interactive, web-based access to 3D reconstructions of cultural heritage. A prototype 3D WebGIS system was built that can store, manage, and visualize 3D models and integrates these with georeferenced archaeological data. An ontology was created, a segmentation pipeline was developed, and databases and services were designed to structure and integrate the data in the 3D WebGIS. Results include two interactive 3D reconstructions: a city model and a temple model – these demonstrate how proper data structuring can deliver transparent models for archaeological argumentation.
    The 3D WebGIS developed by the MayaArch3D Project is a prototype solution for web-based visualization and information systems to link 3D objects to other forms of information and make them traceable and accessible and available for further analysis on a multimedia level. The pipeline for segmenting and structuring 3D data has already been published (Auer et al. 2014); we have followed this here and have explained the process and challenges of preparing our data for this pipeline. Two queryable models are presented in the system: a low-resolution city model of Copan, and a high resolution temple reconstruction. These demonstrate the system’s potential for offering interactive access to knowledge about 3D reconstructions.

    Schwerin, J., Lyons, M., Loos, L., Billen, N., Auer, M. Zipf, A. (2016):
    Show Me the Data!: Structuring Archaeological Data to Deliver Interactive, Transparent 3D Reconstructions in a 3D WebGIS. In: Münster, S., Pfarr-Harfst, M., Kuroczyński, P., Ioannides, M. (Eds.): 3D Research Challenges in Cultural Heritage II -How to Manage Data and Knowledge Related to Interpretative Digital 3D Reconstructions of Cultural Heritage. Springer. pp. 198-230.

    Auer, M., Agugiaro, G., Billen, N., Loos, L., Zipf, A. (2014): Web-based visualization and query of semantically segmented multiresolution 3D models in the field of cultural heritage. ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, II-5, pp. 33–39 (2014). doi:10.5194/isprsannals-II-5-33-2014,

    Liebe Studenten und Mitarbeiter der Universität Heidelberg, wir brauchen eure Hilfe.

    Das CampusMobil-Team der Universität Heidelberg entwickelt derzeit eine Navigations-App, damit sich endlich jeder in den Weiten des Universitäts-Campus zurechtfinden kann. Damit man aber nicht einfach vor der Wand des Ziel-Gebäudes, sondern am Eingang des jeweiligen landet, wollen wir zunächst die verschiedenen Eingänge der Universitätsgebäude digitalisieren.
    Das heißt kurzum, dass wir gemeinschaftlich Daten aus analogen Gebäudeplänen in die OpenStreetMap Datenbank übertragen.

    Wir suchen interessierte Leute, die an ein oder zwei Abenden im Dezember ein paar Stunden (etwa 3h) Lust und Laune haben mitzumachen. Hierzu benötigt ihr keinerlei Vorkenntnisse, denn wir erklären euch genau was gemacht werden muss. Perfekt wäre es, wenn ihr eure Laptops mitbringen könntet.
    Für eine gemütliche Atmosphäre sorgen wir mit kostenlosen Getränken und weihnachtlicher Musik!

    Die Events finden am 6. Dezember 2016 ab 18.30 Uhr und am
    15. Dezember ab 18.00 Uhr in der Berliner Straße 48, Universität Heidelberg, Geographisches Institut (Haltestelle Technologiepark) im großen Hörsaal (EG) statt.

    Sollten wir euer Interesse geweckt haben, meldet euch bitte alsbald und möglichst bis zum 30. November bei:
    Amandus Butzer butzer@stud.uni-heidelberg.de

    Falls ihr nur an einem Termin Zeit habt, oder erst später dazukommen könnt, ist das kein Problem, Hauptsache ihr seid dabei !

    This week’s “OSM Wiki “Image of the Week”” shows two maps from our efforts to use MapSwipe data for defining and prioritising OSM Hot Tasking Manager tasks.
    We appreciate the recognition :-)
    The workflow and respective tools have been introduced recently and are based on the “Heidelberg Process“, that lead to the development of MapSwipe though MissingMaps.org after Benjamin’s initial Web-based implementations using Pybossa.

    MapSwipe news

    This week Alexander Zipf was giving an invited keynote presentation at the 18th Geoinfo Conference in Campos do Jordão, São Paulo, Brazil.

    The GEOINFO conferences aim to bring together leading GIScience and spatial database researchers, to present to the local community a perspective of the state-of-the-art in the area. Past speakers have included Max Egenhofer, Gary Hunter, Andrew Frank, Roger Bivand, Mike Worboys, Werner Kuhn, Stefano Spaccapietra, Ralf Guting, Shashi Shekhar, Christopher Jones, Martin Kulldorff, Andrea Rodriguez, Max Craglia, Stephen Winter, Edzer Pebesma, Fosca Giannotti, Christian Freksa, Thomas Bittner, Markus Schneider, Helen Couclelis, Randolph W. Franklin, Paul Brown and Michael Batty.

    The title of the talk by Alexander Zipf was:
    Analysing and Improving Volunteered Geographic Information for Humanitarian Activities

    Up-to-date and comprehensive geographical information is essential for the planning and implementation of humanitarian aid in the context of crises and disasters. In addition to the established data sources of professional organisations - such as remote sensing, government and commercial data - alternative options have gained importance in recent years. These new options include different types of information that are contributed by volunteers e.g. geographical information based on disaster mapping activities on platforms such as OpenStreetMap, but also spatial information extracted from various social media platforms like Twitter or Flickr. The automated evaluation of these data from social media currently presents an interesting challenge. Other important questions are: How can we analyse, evaluate and improve the quality of these new data? And how can we use them effectively in the context of disaster management? The presentation will discuss a number of methods that we have devised to help us find answers, in particular with respect to OSM quality assessment and improvement, the development of new microtasking apps such as MapSwipe and also the spatiotemporal analysis of social media data.

    In agriculture, information about the spatial distribution of crop height is valuable for applications such as biomass and yield estimation, or increasing field work efficiency in terms of fertilizing, applying pesticides, irrigation, etc. Established methods for capturing crop height often comprise restrictions in terms of cost and time efficiency, flexibility, and temporal and spatial resolution of measurements. Furthermore, crop height is mostly derived from a measurement of the bare terrain prior to plant growth and measurements of the crop surface when plants are growing, resulting in the need of multiple field campaigns.

    In our study, we examine a method to derive crop heights directly from data of a plot of full grown maize plants captured in a single field campaign with a low-cost 3D camera. The results of the study are now published as:

    Hämmerle, M. & Höfle, B. (2016): Direct derivation of maize plant and crop height from low-cost time-of-flight camera measurements. Plant Methods 2016(12:50). doi:10.1186/s13007-016-0150-6

    Side view on the maize field point clouds captured with a low-cost 3D camera.

    Side view on the maize field point clouds captured with a low-cost 3D camera.

    We examine single measurements captured with the 3D camera and a combination of the single measurements, i.e. a combination of multiple perspectives. The quality of both CHMs, and individual plant heights is improved by combining the measurements. The crop heights derived from the 3D camera measurements comprise an average underestimation of 0.06 m compared to terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) reference values.

    Schematic drawing of frontal view on field experiment mountings. (a) 3D camera mounting with camera in nadir perspective over maize field, (b) TLS mounting with tilted scanner to account for nadir field of view restriction.

    Schematic drawing of frontal view on field experiment mountings. (a) 3D camera mounting with camera in nadir perspective over maize field, (b) TLS mounting with tilted scanner to account for nadir field of view restriction.

    We recommend the combination of multiple low-cost 3D camera measurements, removal of measurement artefacts, and the inclusion of correction functions to improve the quality of crop height measurements. Operating low-cost 3D cameras under field conditions on agricultural machines or on autonomous platforms can offer time and cost efficient tools for capturing the spatial distribution of crop heights directly in the field and subsequently to advance agricultural efficiency and productivity. More general, all processes which include the 3D geometry of natural objects can profit from low-cost methods producing 3D geodata.

    Detailed view on the point clouds of upper part of two maize plants. (a) point cloud captired with low-cost 3D camera. (b) TLS point cloud

    Detailed view on the point clouds of upper part of two maize plants. (a) point cloud captired with low-cost 3D camera. (b) TLS point cloud

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