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Together with Prof. João Porto de Albuquerque (University of Warwick), we will chair an interactive session at this year’s Annual International Conference at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The session deals with urban spatial analytics and crowdsourced geographic information for smarter cities, with an emphasis on spatial methodology and applications of these to explicitly urban issues. The workshop takes place in early September (exact date to be confirmed soon), and short abstract submissions are due at 5 February. Note: There is an option to submit long papers. These papers will be subject to the review process of a special issue of the T&F journal Geo-spatial Information Science. Please consider the call below (which is also found as a PDF here).

Spatial Urban Analytics and Crowdsourced Geographic Information for Smarter Cities

Workshop in conjunction with the 2017 Annual International Conference at the Royal Geographical Society, sponsored by the GIScience Research Group (GIScRG).

Session chairs:

Dr João Porto de Albuquerque (University of Warwick)

René Westerholt (Heidelberg University)

Large parts of the world population are living in urban areas and major cities tend to be constantly growing. Such urban areas are complex and heterogeneous systems and a deep understanding of related social, physical and interactional processes is a crucial prerequisite for reaching the goal of designing smarter cities, as well as to resolving some of the most delicate societal as well as scientific issues of our times. This requires strong urban-analytical approaches, in which geography takes a prominent role given its inherent holistic view of real-world systems such as conurbations. The recent emergence and availability of ever more data reflecting everyday human behaviour opens up opportunities for geographers and strengthens the geospatial viewpoint in the interdisciplinary field of urban science.

On behalf of the GIScience Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society, we are delighted inviting you to submit abstracts to our interactive session on spatial urban analytics. We welcome all sorts of methods and applications based on crowdsoucing, social media data, collaborative maps (e.g. OpenStreetMap) and mobile crowd sensing/citizen science approaches. We are interested in exploring the distinctive contribution of explicitly geospatial concepts and methods to the interdisciplinary field of urban analytics, and are thus interested in papers dealing with conceptual innovations, the extension of existing spatial data analysis techniques or the development of new methods that explicitly consider spatial issues (in contrast with more general, non-geographic computational methods). Aside of concepts and methods, potential applications that will be given consideration include all kinds of scenarios related to smart cities, human mobility, urban planning and others, as long as they make use of the emerging (near) real-time data sources to tackle urban challenges.


  • Spatial analysis and spatial statistics
  • Computational methods to urban analytics with explicit spatial considerations
  • Conceptual analysis and theoretical innovation related to the social implications of urban analytics approaches
  • Uncertainty and ambiguities involved to user-generated urban data
  • Studies involving user-generated geographic data from the urban context
  • Innovative visualisation strategies with specific reference to urban issues
  • Application of geoinformation in urban planning , smart city approaches and related fields
  • (Further topics are welcome that fit the overall session theme.)

Types of contributions

The session will be based on paper presentations and interactive discussions. We accept two different kinds of contributions:

Discussion abstracts (300 – 500 words)

This option allows for short contributions that you want to discuss with peers. We specifically encourage ongoing work at an early stage for this type of contribution. Early stage PhD candidates are specifically encouraged to present their research ideas to a specialist audience.

Abstract (300 – 500 words) + full paper to journal special issue (~6.000 words)

In addition to the short abstracts, we also offer you the opportunity to submit full papers (the latter of which are due at a later date, see dates below). These papers should present substantial results and will undergo a regular peer-review process for a special issue “Crowdsourcing for urban geoinformatics” of the T&F journal Geo-spatial Information Science (to appear in early 2018).

Please indicate your preferred type of contribution in your submission.

Important Dates

12 January 2017

Call for papers opens.

5 February 2017

All abstracts are due.

15 February 2017

Authors are notified of acceptance.

30 June 2017

Long papers are due.

29 August –

01 September 2017

Workshop takes place (exact date to be confirmed).

Abstract submission and further information

Please submit your abstract as well as the name, contact details and affiliation of prospective contributions to J.Porto@warwick.ac.uk and/or westerholt@uni-heidelberg.de. Please do not hesitate to ask us if you have further questions.

We cordially invite all interested to our forthcoming talk in the GIScience colloquium next Monday, January 16, on agricultural pest management solutions based on pest observations from farmers. Dr. Yingwei Yan reports on how sensemaking algorithms which can be used to evaluate this kind of volunteered geographic information, and to make forecasts of pest infestations provided to the community. Assurance of the quality of data provided by the farmers is another important aspect here.

Agricultural Pest Management Solutions based on User-Generated Content

Dr. Yingwei Yan / GIScience, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University


INF348, Heidelberg

We want to welcome the year 2017 with a mapathon for MSF and the people of Aweil!

When: 19.01.2017, 18:00
Where: Hörsaal, Berliner Straße 48

This time we will focus on Aweil, the capital of South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. The region is home to tens of thousands of people, many of whom live on the city’s largely unmapped outskirts.

msf_bild_aweil2Aweil, South Sudan. © Adriane Ohanesian/MSF

MSF is active in Aweil since 2008, when the organization took over important medical services. Nowadays MSF teams are mapping villages and their names on the ground. With your help, this can be supported by digitizing settlements and buildings from aerial imagery. Mapping the buildings then helps to estimate the population of the individual villages and is important for MSF to identify areas of highest need.

More information will be reported at the beginning of the mapping event. We also have the chance to learn more about the project from the project management via Skype. Jan Böhm from MSF CZ will give us a more detailed introduction into the field work of MSF in Aweil.  The detailed guidance of mapping in OpenStreetMap will be explained as usual.

jan_böhm.jpgSkype talk by Jan Böhm (MSF CZ)

We are looking forward to your join! Pre-knowledge is not necessary. Just bring your laptop and mouse if available!

When using routing services that rely on OpenStreetMap data, the route engine might suggest you a path that seems to be longer than the shortest possible route you could identify on the map. The main reason behind this are either a lack of data completeness in OSM (for certain data attributes/ for certain regions) or restrictions given by the selected routing profile. This happens more often in the case of wheelchair or pedestrian routing.

In CAP4Access project we have extended the wheelchair profile of OpenRouteService. By using the wheelchair profile, people with restricted mobility are able to have access to detailed routing instructions for their daily city travel activities. However, wheelchair routing heavily relies on sidewalk information and their relevant attributes such as sidewalk slope, width and surface texture, to name a few. Such detailed information are currently not completely mapped for most areas in OpenStreetMap. Therefore, OpenRouteService would not be able to provide the most efficient routing suggestion to wheelchair users and users might not be aware of the reason for this issue.

In order to address this issue, we have developed a new functionality in the wheelchair profile that aims to communicate data quality (completeness) for the area that user is interested to travel. This functionality is called “why is it routing this way?” and would be available when user selects a departure and destination point and the OpenRouteService provides its routing suggestion. Figure below shows a screenshot where this tool has been used in order to query and visualize kerb height information around the area of the selected path. In this case, our new functionality helps to explain why the route that seems to be shortest is not chosen for the given restrictions.

Special thanks goes to the ORS team for integrating this useful tool into OpenRouteService.


Heidelberg University reports about some of the work of the GIScience research group and at the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT), which is currently being established and core funded by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung.

The short reports are available in English and in German. Enjoy!

Check some of the Online Services by GIScience & HeiGIT

We cordially invite all interested to our forthcoming talk in the GIScience colloquium next Monday, January 09, about modelling human activity patterns in cities using crowdsourcing and geosocial media data. Dr. Wei Huang presents a novel approach which considers motivation for human activities and makes it possible to take activity change into account.

Modelling Intra-urban Human Activity Patterns using Crowdsourcing and Geosocial Media Data

Dr. Wei Huang, GIScience, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University

This part of the great MΛTHEMΛTIKON complex is the home of HeiGIT, the “Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology“, core funded by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which is currently being established. We are located on the 4th floor together with our friends from Heidelberg Mobil (HDMI), European Media Laboratory (EML) and Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS).
Merry Christmas!

Dear readers of our blog,

we wish you and your beloved ones a jolly good christmas, and hope that your start into 2017 will be an amazing one! We’d like to take the opportunity to say “Thank you!” for your keen interest in reading our blog posts throughout this year.
Stay tuned - more great things will certainly come up also next year!

On behalf of the entire GIScience Heidelberg Team!

cfp: VGI-Analytics 2017

Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI): Integration, ANALYsis, applICationS

Tuesday, 9th May 2017, Wageningen University, The Netherlands at AGILE 2017

VGI-Analytics 2017 is the 4th workshop in a series of AGILE pre-conference workshops

Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and social media data have become part of our everyday lives over the past few years. Whereas in the early beginnings of crowd-sourced data the collection occurred primarily to isolated, individual platforms, contribution patterns are now beginning to be more intertwined between different platforms, both at the application level and at the user side. This means that crowd-sourcing applications nowadays begin to offer opportunities to share data between them during data collection and contribution processes, for example, by tweeting an Instagram image or by viewing a Mapillary image layer while editing OpenStreetMap data.

This advancement on the application side can lead to novel analysis methods of user contribution patterns. Recent data contribution trends show also that geographic data are beginning to be linked across different VGI and social media platforms. As an example, users started to cross-link OSM point of interests (POIs) and street features (e.g. street lamps, sidewalk information) based on Mapillary photographs, or by tagging Flickr pictures with OSM tags to facilitate automatic extraction of descriptive information for Flickr images. This cross-linkage of data between different platforms brings new opportunities and challenges, including questions of data quality and the formation of user communities across platforms. This change in contribution patterns may require different analysis techniques than for data contributed to individual data platforms. The number of VGI and social media platforms is continuously growing, providing new data sets to be analysed. A recent example is the Pokémon Go application which triggered the crowd-sourced local business review Website “Yelp” to add a Pokémon stop attribute. This attribute can reveal in which parts of a city Pokémon stops are placed and thus where Pokémon Go players explore Pokémon stops.

This workshop provides an opportunity for interested researchers to share ideas and findings on cross-platform data contributions, innovative analysis approaches, current data fusion methods, real-world applications using cross-linked data, and novel crowd-sourcing and social media platforms. It allows participants also to discuss technical questions and innovations on data access. One portion in the workshop is dedicated to a collaborative session, where break-out groups will discuss some specific aspects of cross-linked VGI data. Concurrently we plan to offer a technical hands-on session on VGI related APIs and software as well.

The Call for Papers will include a call for free open access journal paper submissions which will reviewed and considered for inclusion in a special issue of the journal Geo-spatial Information Science http://explore.tandfonline.com/cfp/est/gsis in late 2017.

GSIS is now an Open Access journal! All article publishing charges (APC) will be covered by Wuhan University (unless otherwise stated), so authors will have the benefits of open access at no cost.

VGI-Analytics 2017: The Organisers

The VGI-Analytics 2017 workshop will be organised and co-chaired by:

  • Peter Mooney: Maynooth University, Ireland; Email: Peter.Mooney@nuim.ie
  • Alexander Zipf: University of Heidelberg, Germany; Email: zipf@uni-heidelberg.de
  • Jamal Jokar: Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark; Email: jja@plan.aau.dk
  • Hartwig H. Hochmair: University of Florida, United States; Email: hhhochmair@ufl.edu

VGI-Analytics 2017 Workshop Topics and Themes

The VGI-Analytics 2017 workshop will discuss, but not be limited to, the following workshop topics and themes:

  • Joint analysis of crowd-sourced VGI/social media data originating from different data sources
  • Technical aspects of crowd-sourced data fusion
  • Spatio-temporal analysis of activity patterns for individual users across multiple VGI and/or social media platforms
  • Quality assessment of VGI/social media data through analysis of data from different platforms
  • Analysis of cross-linked data and cross-link editing methods in VGI and social media platforms and its applications
  • New sources of VGI and social media data
  • VGI across different regions and cultures
  • Semantic issues arising from the conflation or cross-linkage of several different sources of VGI
  • Tailoring VGI for different applications

VGI-Analytics 2017: Important Dates

  • Dec 21st 2016: Call for short workshop papers and full journal papers opens. This call is different to the AGILE 2017 call for short papers.
  • Mar 15 2017: Call for short workshop papers and full journal papers ends. In the coming weeks we will update this website with information on how both the short workshop papers and full journal papers will be submitted.
  • Apr 4 2017: Review process ends. Program committee decides on which workshop papers are accepted. The authors of these papers are notified and invited to present their work at VGI-Analytics 2017 workshop.
    The status of the submitted journal papers will also be communicated to authors (accepted/revisions required/rejected). There will be an invitation of authors of journal papers of sufficient quality to present and take part in the workshop;
  • Apr 21 2017: Camera ready copies of workshop papers due; journal paper authors can prepare an abstract of their journal paper for the workshop Website (but don’t need to have their journal paper ready at that time). It should be noted that all outputs from the workshop will be openly available on the VGI-Analytics 2017 workshop website.
  • May 9 2017: VGI-Analytics Workshop at AGILE 2017.
  • May 26 2017: Revisions of journal paper submission due (this gives authors enough time to integrate feedback from the workshop); re-review process begins (may not be necessary for all papers)
  • June 9 2017: Re-review process of journal papers ends; notification of authors
  • June 30 2017: Finalized journal papers due
  • September/October 2017: Special Issue Published.

VGI-Analytics 2017: A pre-conference workshop series

VGI-Analytics follows on from a very successful pre-AGILE conference workshop in Helsinki in June 2016 called Link-VGI: LINKing and analyzing Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) across different platforms. Please see the workshop web-page for LinkVGI 2016. Indeed the workshop organisers have been working together in this general research areas for several years now. In 2015 the RICH-VGI workshop (enRICHment of volunteered geographic information (VGI): Techniques, practices and current state of knowledge) was organised before AGILE 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal. An earlier pre-AGILE conference workshop ACTIVITY (Action and Interaction in Volunteered Geographic Information) was held in Leuven in May 2013 before AGILE 2013.

VGI-Analytics 2017: Workshop Timetable

The workshop will be a full day workshop. We intend to begin at 09:00 and finish at around 17:00. This will allow workshop delegates to either return back to their accommodation before the evening reception or to explore the university grounds or city of Wageningen. In the tentative outline below we have provided two options for parallel sessions in the afternoon. We aim to attract a high number of attendees and consequently we believe that we can provide the option of both sessions.

The tentative outline of the workshop is as follows below. The timings have been designed so that they work with the timetables of the other pre AGILE workshops for the purposes of coffee breaks and lunches.

09:00 - 09:30 Welcome and some introductions from the organisers
09:30 - 12:30 Presentations and lectures from delegates - these will be drawn from submissions to the workshop after a Call For Papers process
12:30 - 13:30 LUNCH
13:30 - 15:30 Session Option 1 Collaborative Session the idea here would be to break the workshop up into 4 - 5 small groups. Each group would be led by one of the organisers or an experienced academic/researcher. Then each group would try to tackle some of the current challenges in VGI-Analytics with the view of working towards the draft for a multi-author journal paper. At the end of the session each group will have gathered together a roughwork document of ideas, formulations, plans, etc to bring their paper forward after the workshop. Very often one of the negative aspects of workshops is that the potential energy for collaboration and future networking diminishes after the workshop is finished. A tangible and shared collaborative output like this could help build capacity for sustaining this collaboration. This is also an excellent opportunity for PhD students and other young researchers to work and collaborate with more experienced academics/researchers.
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee
16:00 - 16:30 Short feedback and summary from each group leader
16:30 - 17:00 Closing - summary and overview of the day from the Workshop Chair. Plans for the future.

VGI-Analytics 2017: Directions and Logistics

The workshop will take place on Tuesday 9th May 2017 as a pre-conference workshop at AGILE 2017 in Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

The AGILE 2017 website will contain information and directions of how to travel to Wageningen University.

REGISTRATION for the VGI-Analytics 2017 will be handled directly with your registration for the AGILE 2017 conference. This webpage will not provide a facility to register for the workshop. There will be a small registration fee for this workshop which is collected by AGILE.

Workshop WebSite: http://www.cs.nuim.ie/~pmooney/VGI-Analytics2017/

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