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The one-day workshop on the Orientation and Processing of Airborne Laser Scanning data, OPALS - From Points to Models, took place at the National Taiwan University in Taipei on 9 April 2014. The workshop was organized by the LiDAR Research Group of the GIScience Group at the Heidelberg University (Bernhard Höfle, Sabrina Marx), the Department of Earth Sciences of the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan (Prof. Ming-Chee Wu, Mon-Shieh Yang) and the Taiwan Group on Earth Observations (TGEO). The workshop was very well attended with more than 40 participants from academia, governmental institutions and industry.

First of all, principles of LiDAR point cloud processing and analysis were introduced to the workshop participants. A hands-on part on processing of LiDAR point clouds using OPALS and QGIS completed the theoretical background. About half of the workshop was dedicated to practical examples, based on the outcomes of research projects of the LiDAR Research Group Heidelberg.

The OPALS software is developed at the Vienna University of Technology, Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation (Research Group Photogrammetry, Prof. Pfeifer): http://geo.tuwien.ac.at/opals

Furthermore, Bernhard Höfle gave two talks about the opportunities and challenges of coupling LiDAR and GIS:

Apr 11, 2014
LiDAR and 3D-GIS in Geosciences and Environmental Research at the Department of Earth Sciences, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Taiwan.

Apr 8, 2014
Bridging Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics for Geoinformation Extraction from 3D Point Clouds at the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), Taiwan.

The conference web site: http://rsgis4hq.geo.tuwien.ac.at

The International Workshop Remote Sensing and GIS for Monitoring of Habitat Quality, organized by GEO TU Wien and the Centre for Ecological Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, will connect scientists, practitioners and stakeholders from the domains of remote sensing, GIS and habitat conservation, to discuss how recent developments in remote sensing and data processing can be exploited for spatially explicit monitoring of habitat quality.

GIScience Heidelberg is participating in the scientific committee of the conference.

Our sessions will focus on recent developments in sensor technology and processing; ecological mapping from sensor and in-situ data, GIS processing from thematic maps to habitat quality evaluation, and finally user requirements and operational case studies.

Participants and contributors are welcome from natural and technical sciences, practical conservation and the market sector. We encourage submissions of abstracts for oral presentations, which will be subject to peer review based on scientific content and relevance for habitat quality mapping. A special issue of full papers in a relevant impact-listed journal is in preparation.


This Special Issue, “Remote Sensing and GIS for Habitat Quality Monitoring”, aims to pave the way for operational habitat quality monitoring from earth observation data for more effective habitat conservation. The demand for protecting biodiversity has been underlined by a number of recent international agreements, while the increasing size of protected habitats calls for an urgent improvement in the efficiency of monitoring.

Meanwhile, GIS-based quantitative habitat quality mapping has arrived. Processes leading to this include the increase in coverage provided by high-resolution airborne and spaceborne data, the availability of high-level classification algorithms in commercial processing software, and an active dialogue between remote sensing and conservation ecology specialists. Nevertheless, several open questions remain. How can ecological principles best be represented in geoinformation algorithms? How can habitat quality or conservation status be quantified? Can we integrate or compare data from different sensors? Is conservation legislation and practice ready for the stream of newly available data? How can field reference data collection and sensor campaigns be optimized for efficiency?

Previous reviews and special issues on ecological remote sensing typically focused on mapping either the extent of habitats or a single ecological variable. This Special Issue will present the next level of processing, where sensor and field data from several parameters, including the pattern and extent of habitats, structure, connectivity, species composition, and ecophysiological condition are processed and evaluated together, so as to deliver a quantitative representation of habitat quality.

Experimental reports, case studies, reviews, and future trend assessments are welcome (assuming they are relevant to habitat quality mapping and monitoring).

Selected topics of interest:
- Operational examples of GIS and/or Remote Sensing-supported habitat quality monitoring
- Case studies of GIS and RS in the monitoring of various habitat types
- New sensors, algorithms, and applications in habitat quality mapping
- GIS- and RS facilitated field ecological mapping
- Data sources, data infrastructures for habitat quality monitoring (web maps, crowdsourcing, citizen science, sensor networks)
- Requirements of practical conservation towards spatial data in habitat quality

Guest Editors:
Norbert Pfeifer, András Zlinszky, Hermann Heilmeier, Heiko Balzter, Bernhard Höfle, Bálint Czúcz

We are pleased to receive Luiz Fernando Assis as an exchange graduate student assistant at the GIScience research group. Luiz Fernando is pursuing his Masters’ in Computer Science at the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of São Paulo in Brazil under the supervision of Prof. Dr. João Porto de Albuquerque, who is also a Visting Professor at the GIScience group.

During his exchange semester in Heidelberg funded by a scholarship from FAPESP, Luiz Fernando will be working on his master thesis on disaster management, in particular “Service-oriented Middleware for Dynamic Management of Heterogeneous Geosensors in Flood Management, which is part of the AGORA project, a collaboration between the GISCience group and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

We warmly welcome Luiz Fernando to the GIScience group and look forward to a productive and fruitful collaboration!

The future city of knowledge is the main topic of the “Internationale Bauausstellung Heidelberg” (IBA)., an international 10 years project. This week a selection of the project proposals answering the first call of proposal were invited to defend their ideas publicly to the IBA board of trustees at the “Alte Feuerwache”. Our proposal about raising awareness and improving communication about Science Places in the City through a smart integration of advanced ITC tecnologies with the build environment was selected as one of these candidates. The main idea is to better be able to explain how sciences and knowledge with their respective acteurs - do shape and construct the city - both the built environment and the social interaction and processes - in history and today.

Further we are partner in another proposal by the Citizen Science Society HD that made it through the selection process and is now “IBA_Kandidat”: it is a Citizen Science project in the eHumanities domain: The proposal aims at capturing the history of buildings and places, and thus of a city, through citizen scientists who generate a valuable source for historic research made available on the Web.

The loal newspaper reports about this here.

Dear students: we offer thesis on related topics. Contact: A. Zipf.

image source Heidelberg-3D.de

Due to development of communication technologies, the amount of data, which each organization has to deal with, has been rapidly growing. The huge volumes of data appear as an opportunity to improve the performance and reliability of various applications, as such routing and navigation services can be named. However, the analysis of large datasets, commonly referred to as “Big Data,” has been a huge challenge due to the lack of suitable analysis tools and adequate computing resources. In parallel, the rapidly growing number of crowdsourcing platforms also generates huge volumes of volunteered geographic information (VGI), which also require analysis to reveal their potential. How existing techniques for dealing with Big Data could be useful for the analysis of VGI remains an open question, since VGI differs from traditional data in essence. In a chapter of a new book that has just been publsihed, we focus on examining the latest developments and issues associated with big data from the perspective of the analysis of VGI. This chapter notably explores the current state of Big Data, highlighting the opportunities that are created by the emergence of Big VGI and crowdsourced data to improve routing and navigation services, as well as the challenges that remain to be addressed to fully exploit Big VGI. Some avenues for future research on the next generation of collaborative routing and navigation services are also suggested.

Further Reading:

Bakillah, M., Lauer, J., Liang, S., Zipf, A., Jokar Arsanjani, J., Loos, L., Mobasheri, A.,  2014: Exploiting Big VGI to Improve Routing and Navigation Services, in Karimi  H, Big Data Techniques and Technologies in Geoinformatics.

Our group member René Westerholt has recently won the “GiN Nachwuchsförderpreis” (a German young researchers award) for his master thesis. He graduated in the end of 2012 at the University of Osnabrück. The thesis deals with push-based data transmission in the course of web-based geoprocessing. The encountered approach is based on a technique called Web Sockets and enables the OGC Web Processing Service (WPS) notifying users about available results in case of long-running processes.
A corresponding article about the corresponding results has been accepted for publication at Transactions in GIS and will be published soon. The award has been donated by the North-German Society for Geoinformatics (GiN e.V.), and was handed over at the evening event of the Geoinformatik conference in Hamburg.
Congratulations René!

Our book chapter contribution in “Abstracting Geographic Information in a Data Rich World” has appeared.

Abstract: The availability of spatial data on the web has greatly increased through the availability of user-generated community data and geosensor networks. The integration of such multi-source data is providing promising opportunities, as integrated information is richer than can be found in only one data source, but also poses new challenges due to the heterogeneity of the data, the differences in quality and in respect of tag-based semantic modelling. The chapter describes approaches for the integration of official and informal sources, and discusses the impact of integrating user-generated data on automated generalisation and visualisation.

Further reading:

Sester, M., Jokar Arsanjani, J., Klammer, R., Burghardt, D., & Haunert, J.-H. (2014). Integrating and Generalising Volunteered Geographic Information. In D. Burghardt, C. Duchêne, & W. Mackaness (Eds.), Abstracting Geographic Information in a Data Rich World SE  - 5 (pp. 119–155). Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-00203-3_5

On Saturday March 13th we gave an introduction to OpenStreetMap to 18 pupils participating in the KinderUni (Young University) Heidelberg. The computer pool of the Department of Geography was crowded with kids between 8 and 14 years of age. As a motivation the intro started with a typcial - and very actual - crowdsourcing task in crisis mapping: collaboratively searching for the lost Boeing airplane flight MH370 on satellite images through the microtasking tool Tomnod. After a short intro into the relevant concepts and ideas of OpenStreetMap the group went out with several GPS receivers and OSM Walking Papers to survey the close surrounding of the Department. Afterwards the recorded GPS tracks were loaded into the OSM editor iD and the data was edited and uploaded to OpenStreetMap.
The workshop was well received and all participants including the teaching team (Susanne Heuser, Christopher Barron, Martin Holler and Prof. Alexander Zipf) had lots of fun and the results show that simple editing task in OpenStreetMap can be tought even to children.

Some impressions from the editing sessions:

This workshop will elaborate on the possibilities of using geospatial information and processing across multiple sectors, and thereby implementing Digital Earth applications, i.e. applications of next-generation Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). With this event, we initiate a coordinated discussion on the topic and through published guidelines prepare the ground for organizing future hackathons and mapathons. We will particularly investigate possibilities for organizing parallel events as competitions between (smart) cities. After the event, we intent to co-author a white paper on the identified issues, our joint conclusions and possible follow up activities.

Your contribution
For optimal use of our joint time, we invite everybody to submit questions that he/she proposes as kick-off questions for roundtable discussions during the workshop, questions which directly address issues to be considered in the organization of future hack-/mapathons. We also invite you to provide a brief and concise explanation about the relevance of your discussion question (Deadline: 20 May 2014). Participants will have the chance to briefly present their questions and a sub-set will be selected for detailed discussion during a World Café.

Submission of questions can be done on the workshop website (http://kartoweb.itc.nl/agilehackworkshop/). Here you also find the preliminary workshop program and further information.

We are looking forward to meeting you in Spain!

Rob Lemmens, University of Twente - ITC
Sven Schade, European Commission - JRC
Florian Hillen, University of Osnabrück
Christine Richter, University of Amsterdam
Bernhard Höfle, University of Heidelberg
Yola Georgiadou, University of Twente - ITC

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