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Dear Colleagues,

Earth observation devices and geoinformation technologies, including remote sensing data, platforms, algorithms, geographic information science (GISc), and spatial analysis techniques have played a major role in monitoring the dynamics of our environment and landscape. Additionally, emerging active and passive sensing approaches, such as crowdsourcing, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), citizen science (CS), participatory sensing, humans-as-sensors, etc. allowed us to leverage the prior way of monitoring and sensing our landscapes. Both approaches provide a great deal of data and methodologies to scientists, practitioners, and planners, thus enabling a more efficient planning and design of the environment. This results in better environmental management and sustainable development and must be considered for better decision making.

In addition to the unprecedented growth of the world population, human activity has become more diversified than ever. Moreover, humans have been consuming more than ever. Thus, spatial and temporal monitoring efforts should be carried forth, so as to achieve a better understanding of our environment and its people, and to allow for a coherent approach to sustainable development. Multidisciplinary approaches can benefit from becoming leveraged with geoinformation technologies; these approaches should be undertaken for a better and deeper understanding of human environment interactions.

Aims: This Special Issue aims to provide an innovative and pioneering contribution to the traditional approaches in regards to these issues. Furthermore, it focuses on the emerging opportunities and challenges of geoinformation, as innovative spatial analysis techniques and land policy and management issues progress via technological and computational advances.

Guest Editors: (Dr. Jamal Jokar Arsanjani GIScience Heidelberg University, Dr. Eric Vaz)

Special Issue Topics:

  • Geotechnologies and Geographic Information Science (GISc)
  • Remote Sensing and human-assisted sensing
  • Collaborative mapping and Participatory sensing
  • Geocomputation, Spatial analysis and geosimulation
  • Predictive modeling techniques
  • Spatiotemporal monitoring/modelling of environment
  • Spatial decision Support Systems (SDSS)
  • Natural hazards monitoring and management
  • Sustainable urban Development and landscape planning
  • Citizens observatories and Citizen Science
  • Land development policy
  • Land use and land cover change, urbanization
  • Computer-human-environment interactions
  • Public and environmental health
  • Crowdsourcing and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI)
  • Socioeconomic development
  • Climate change and Regional planning
Further info:

Last few months, we have been working hard on a new backend for OpenRouteService.org. The new implementation is much more flexible and faster than before and supports more sophisticated routing profiles. The services are deployed on a new and more powerful server that makes it possible to update routing graphs based on OpenStreetMap data more regulary (weekly) automatically.  Many thanks to Boris Richter for his great help and support.
This allows also to support an much extended coverage: now all of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia are supported by OpenRouteService

Furthermore, the accessibility service uses a new method for calculating more accurate and realistic isochrone maps. Further improvements and additional routing profiles are under development and will be made available in the near future within a new web client (see figure below, beta preview is available at openls.geog.uni-heidelberg.de). The source code of the web client is hosted on GitHub. The new backend service API is going to be publicly available that will allow a better integration into other applications.

We would like to acknowledge all who was involved. Thanks to the tenacious efforts made by Maxim Rylov and Enrico Steiger in vivifying the old lovely service.

Please feel free to contact us at openrouteservice@geog.uni-heidelberg.de to ask a question or report a bug.

Last Saturday (21/2) the GIScience group Heidelberg was part of the International Open Data Day. Open data enthusiasts all over the world teamed up to create new applications derived from open (not only governmental) data. The local open data day in Mannheim has seen 7 finished projects including Wikipedia edit wars analyses, public transport visualisations, crowdsourcing, disaster speed mapping and OpenStreetMap data collection.

Already on Friday (20/2) afternoon about 25 interested persons met for talks in barcamp style regarding the application of open data in different domains, including mobility, internet of things, linked open data, disaster mapping and accessible routing using OpenStreetMap/Wheelmap. The latter two talks were presented by members of our group (Melanie Eckle for Disaster Mapping, Stefan Hahmann for OpenRouteService/Wheelmap).

On Saturday about 35 developers formed teams for a Hacktogether. The disaster mappers Heidelberg succesfully performed mapping in the region of south Sudan.

The smart simulation group developed an extension for an OpenStreetMap quality analysis tool that shows streets that do not have a sidewalk tag yet. Furthermore tasks for the platform crowdcrafting.org were designed to detect sidewalks from Mapillary imagery using the power of the crowd. Volunteers are invited to contribute to this task. We hope that both tools will help to improve OpenStreetMap data quality on sidewalks, which is of high relevance for accessible route planning in the context of the CAP4ACCESS project and beyond.

Dear colleagues,

In addition to our RICHVGI workshop in AGILE 2015, which will be held on June 9, 2015 in Lisbon, we are organizing a hands-on session called “VALID-LAND: Assessing the fitness of citizens observatories for land cover/land use mapping and validation purposes“. We would be delighted to see you joining along with spreading the word.

Topics: This workshop will provide exposure to the possibilities of land cover/use mapping from different Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI)-based initiatives including OpenStreetMap, and georeferenced photo sites such as Panoramio, for the purpose of generating land cover/use maps and comparing the results from these diverse VGI initiatives for consistency analysis, quality evaluation and fitness-for-purpose.

Objectives: There are several collaborative mapping platforms and VGI initiatives that can potentially assist researchers, practitioners and managers to extract land cover/use related information, including OpenStreetMap and a growing number of georeferenced photograph repositories (e.g. the Degree Confluence Project, Flickr, Panoramio, Geograph and Instagram among others. Each of these has its own modality of data collection, data management and interaction with volunteers (users), which cause different types of errors and limitations. The aim of this workshop is to test the consistency/quality of the land cover/use information obtained from different sources of VGI and compare these with land cover and land use from authoritative sources including the Urban Atlas and data from the UK Ordnance Survey.

Outcomes: The planned outcome of the workshop is a peer-reviewed paper containing the results obtained from the workshop. The hands-on sessions will provide the main results for the paper and the last hour of the workshop will be spent discussing the paper outline and action points for workshop participants and organizers.

Organizing committee:

Dr. Jamal Jokar Arsanjani, GIScience Research Group, Heidelberg University, Germany (Contact person)

Prof. Marco Painho, NOVA IMS – Information Management School, Portugal

Jacinto Estima, NOVA IMS – Information Management School, Portugal

Prof. Cidália Fonte, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Dr. Linda See, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria

Tour-Optimization in the Cloud

in cooperation with IBM and Heidelberg Mobil International HDM-I the GIScience Research Group of Heidelberg University presents new approaches and solutions for specialized tour-optimization based on free and open geodata from OpenStreetMap and Cloud-based services in the in the “Cloud Area” at the CEBIT computer fair.
These services enable software developers to integrate maps and routing services in their own apps and to optimize routes.
Please visit Heidelberg Mobil at the IBM booth | hall 2 A10 from March 16. - 20. in Hannover.


On the 11th and 12th February 2015, the Citizen Science 2015 conference took place in San Jose, California. Two busy days of presentations, symposia and workshops provided a great opportunity to learn about and discuss the latest developments in research and practice this field. Citizen science, which has been around for some time as an interesting approach to conduct or support scientific research by including citizens in data collection, analysis or other parts of the research process, is currently going through exciting times. Following the web 2.0 revolution and the new possibilities of organising citizen science projects on the web, participation in citizen science is reaching new levels, and new issues arise, like the managemant of large amounts of data in online portals and data bases, the use of participatory GIS to produce geographic data, and the quality of such data. Clemens Jacobs, member of the GIScience Research Group at Heidelberg University, presented data quality assessment approaches for citizen science observations of plants and animals. Other issues discussed at the conference included educational aspects of citizen science, best practises in organising citizen science projects, or ways of acqiring and keeping participants (also for more sophisticated tasks and activities). A large number of projects and initiatives presented their outcomes and important lessons learned. The conference was also the inaugural event of the newly founded Citizen Science Association (CSA).

Dear colleagues,

we are pleased to announce our session called “Quality analysis of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) towards effective use” at the 9th International Symposium on Spatial Data Quality (ISSDQ 2015), which will take place in Montpellier, France, from September 28th to October 3rd 2015. Please consider submitting and presenting your relevant research in the session. Here is Call For Papers.


Aims and scope: During the last decade, VGI has evolved considerably and now plays a significant role in GIS community: It represents a potential data source, supports wide range of applications and attracts professionals’ interest from both private and public sector. Nevertheless, VGI is often denounced due to its heterogeneities in quality, completeness and redundancy. At the same time, standard quality measures such as the ones developed by ISO to ensure spatial data quality (e.g. the work of ISO/TC 212) are not always applicable to VGI datasets. The objective of this session is to provide an interdisciplinary forum towards determining techniques and ideas for understanding the quality of VGI and improving the quality aspects including completeness, attributes, locational accuracy, metadata, etc. It aims, among other topics, to: (1) demonstrate the latest state of the most used VGI projects such as OpenStreetMap, Flickr, etc. in terms of data quality, (2) assess VGI quality considering the needs of particular application domains (e.g. environment, routing, disaster management, urban planning, etc.), (3) discuss the strength, shortcomings and solutions for improvement of data structures related to VGI projects for the purpose of long-termed development of VGI projects, (4) discuss and exchange experiences, approaches, and algorithms for quality assessment specified for VGI data, and (5) discuss the criteria and standards for quality assessment for VGI data.

This session will also be be an opportunity to present the work of the COST ENERGIC Action as VGI Quality focuses on the agenda of WG2 and of COST TD 1202 Action as it closely relates to the work of WG1 and WG4.

Further information can be found here:



As can be seen in the WebGL visualisation of the GPS data collected by the OSM contributors in Heidelberg (reported earlier in this blog), the quantity of recorded GPS tracks along an OSM highway features depends on the feature class. It has already been found before that the GPS data is not equally distributed among the roads and can considerably vary for different feature classes. In our study region of Heidelberg we have now found that motorway, primary, secondary and tertiary road segments are almost completely covered by at least one corresponding GPS track, whereas for the feature classes residential, path, pedestrian and footway, there is also a large share of segments that is not covered by any of the collected GPS tracks. Likewise, the average number of corresponding tracks varies considerably:

feature class | covered segments | avg. # of tracks
motorway 99% 98
primary 99% 21
secondary 96% 11
cycleway 91% 10
tertiary 95% 9
path 52% 2
residential 58% 2
footway 35% 2

Some time ago we reported about a new method for assessing spatial autocorrelation among points in social media datasets. A major contribution thereby is the ability of restricting the analysis to specific scales limited by both, an upper and a lower bound. The corresponding paper is now officially available online at IJGIS:

Westerholt, R., Resch, B., and Zipf, A. (2014): 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, issue pending, pp. pending. DOI:10.1080/13658816.2014.1002499.


Using the free and open soruce gis QGIS in work or research, sometimes you might need to visualize spatial data on top of a basemap that is provided through different web interfaces such as WMS, WMTS or TMS service. Generally, this can be accomplished by using either WMS drivers or OpenLayers plugin. Both solutions have their merits and flaws, which are not going to be discussed in this blog post. This post is dedicated to briefly introduce a new alternative way of utilizing raster web maps in QGIS. A new free plugin called QuickMapServices, that has been recently developed and published by a russian company NextGIS, Ltd., allows adding and using web maps in few clicks. By default, this plugin provides a predefined list of web map services that can be easily extended by creating an ini file.

We are very pleased to mention that along with other maps provided by Landsat, MapQuest, OSM and NASA, the default set includes all maps and overlays available through our OSM based quality cartography OpenMapSurfer web service.

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