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The concept of place recently gains momentum in GIScience. In some fields like human geography, spatial cognition or information theory, this topic already has a longer scholarly tradition. This is however not yet completely the case with statistical spatial analysis and cartography. Despite that, taking full advantage of the plethora of user-generated information that we have available these days requires mature place-based statistical and visualization concepts. A recently accepted and published paper for GIScience 2018 conference in Melbourne contributes to these developments: We integrate existing place definitions into an understanding of places as a system of interlinked, constituent characteristics. Based on this, challenges and first promising conceptual ideas are discussed from statistical and visualization viewpoints. One major challenge is to find suitable units upon which statistical analyses of places can be conducted. Conceptual spaces have been identified as one promising way to define such units, though an in-depth harmonization of this framework with places still needs to be done in future work. Further, platial counterparts to important spatial-statistical concepts must be formulated in order to develop a valid and rigorous statistical theory of places. It is not yet clear to what extent data taken from user-generated feeds is truely platial. Since data is a crucial ingredient to achieving insights on places, this is one of the major empirical steps to be undertaken in the near future. In terms of visualizing places, the major issues with current approaches include wrong spatial impressions created through interpolation techniques, the problem of displaying multifaceted place-based information at once, and the combination of different subjective places in one map. However, the proposed example using micro diagrams has shown first promising results for the presentation of multidimensional, qualitative information together with the spatial outline of places in a conceivable way.

Westerholt, R., Gröbe, M., Zipf, A. and Burghardt, D. (2018): Towards the statistical analysis and visualization of places. 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science, Melbourne, Australia, DOI: 10.4230/LIPIcs.GIScience.2018.63.

Related work on PLATIAL analytics will be presented and discussed at our PLATIAL 2018 Workshop in Heidelberg. 20.-21.Sept. 2018. Join the Discussion!

Over the past few years, the Missing Maps approach has repeatedly proved its potential for humanitarian assistance and disaster management. While the project was launched by only four organizations, there are now 17 member organizations in Missing Maps, and nearly 60,000 mappers. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have recognized the potential of the Missing Maps project and its approach, acknowledging the crucial contributions of geographic information in driving disaster responses and recovery as well as preparedness. Together with our colleagues from the British Red Cross and German Red Cross, we published a perspective article, which gives an overview on the Missing Maps approach and its potential within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement:

Scholz, S.; Knight, P.; Eckle, M.; Marx, S.; Zipf, A. (2018): Volunteered Geographic Information for Disaster Risk Reduction—The Missing Maps Approach and Its Potential within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1239, doi: 10.3390/rs10081239.

On our last day in the Ötztal Alps, we had an exciting excursion from Obergurgl to Ramolhaus on 3006 m a.s.l. On our way up we could directly explore glacial history by passing the historical extents and related moraines of the retreating Gurgler glacier. The students also learned about geoarcheology and settlement history in the Ötztal valley, where people settle for more than 9000 years.

Moreover, we had the full view on the active rock glacier Äußeres Hochebenkar, which has been investigated for several years by the 3DGeo group.

The excursion rounded up a very interesting field trip where the students learned a lot about 3D surface and geophysical subsurface geodata acquisition in glacial and periglacial process areas.

The students would like to thank Prof. Bernhard Höfle, Dr. Stefan Hecht, and Katharina Anders for providing a wide range of methodical and content-related input and for organizing this great practical field trip in an impressive high-mountain environment.

We are blogging live from Ramolhaus at 3006 m a.s.l.

After a 4-hours hiking tour with 1100 height meters we are now enjoying the impressive view over glaciers with “Kaiserschmarren” for lunch.

Over the past few months the openrouteservice team has worked on a new developers dashboard in order to make the registration and usage of the API more easy and accessible.

Now the developers using the openrouteservice API will experience a more intuitive and responsive interface and a with more polished better look and feel to view their quota and tokens. To achieve this modular solution we have created a single page application using the novel framework Vue.js developed by the team around Gitlab.com .

What’s new?

  • User Authentication
  • Tokens listing, removal, creation
  • Tokens usage chart
  • Profile view/update
  • One-click Login and or Sign-up with Github Credentials
  • More intuitive and smart forms validation
  • Invisible captcha
Developer Dashboard login:

On the last day of fieldwork in the rotmoos valley two groups (terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and photogrammetry) set off to the rotmoos glacier again. A second TLS dataset was aqcuired
which enables the students to perform a change detection or deformation analysis.

The electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) group futher explored the pre-Quaternary relief in the valley and measured another profile in the area of a ground moraine to verify previous measurements and to differentiate sediment types and process areas. The various marmots living in and around the study site are not only cute but the excavation material of their burrows also provide insights into the spatially varying composition of sediments along the ERT measurement profiles (see pictures below).

After fieldwork the students climbed the Schönwieskopf mountain to enjoy the beautiful view to Obergurgl and Rotmoos valley.

Every evening the acquired data are processed in the “sky-lab” in the Obergurgl University Center. The photogrammetry group, for example, performs a 3D reconstruction of glacial landforms which have been captured in the field with smartphone cameras.

Moreover, the 3DGeo team extended the multi-temporal terrestrial LiDAR dataset of the rock glacier Äußeres Hochebenkar in the last days. Additionally, the first UAV LiDAR point cloud of this rock glacier was acquired by Martin Rutzinger and Magnus Bremer from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research (IGF) and Innsbruck University. They flew with a RiCOPTER UAV drone with a RIEGL VUX-1LR laserscanner. These datasets provide a valuable basis for further research on the rock glacier.

We are excited to announce that our new HeiGIT website is live! Visit us at www.heigit.org.

Today was the second day of field work in the Rotmoos valley in the Ötztal Alps for our 16 students. The hot sun challenged the data acquisition but the impressive landscape makes up for every effort.

The terrestrial laser scanning group climbed up the valley flanks to acquire a high resolution point cloud from an end moraine of the Rotmoos glacier from the year 1850.
The electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) group measured a profile along the transition from the valley flank to the valley floor next to the end moraine. The measurement profile was aimed to track the bedrock and to determine the thickness of valley backfilling sediments.
The photogrammetry group took multiple photos from different landforms (e.g. rôches moutonnées and debris cones) in order to perform a 3D reconstruction of these objects. Moreover, the students learned how to set up a real time kinematic global navigation satellite system (RTK GNSS) which is used to survey global coordinates (e.g. of the ERT profile).

For more information about this practical field course read our blog post from yesterday.

We will keep you updated with daily posts - stay tuned.

We published a new jupyter notebook which depicts how to use the OpenRouteService Isochrones API to analyse health care acessibility in Madagascar.

In the case of a disaster (natural or man made), a country is not only affected by the intensity of the disaster but also by it’s own vulnerability to it. Countries have different kind of opportunities to prepare for such catastrophes, to respond finally to start the recovery. Many less developed countries, e.g. Madagascar, are in particular prone to disasters, not only because of the higher probability of occurence, but also due to a potentially lower ability to cope up during and after the event.

In this example we will focus on vulnerability in terms of access to health care. The access to health facilities can be highly unequal within a country. Consequently, some areas and communities are more vulnerable to disasters effects than others. Quantifying and visualizing such inequalities is the aim of this notebook.

The notebook gives an overview on health sites distribution and the amount of population with access to those by foot and by car for Madagascar. Open source data from OpenStreetMap, the Humanitarian Data Exchange platform and tools (such as the OpenRouteService) were used to create accessibility isochrones for each hospital and to derive analysis results about the population percentage with access to health facilities per district. The findings show that the inhabitants of 69 of 119 (58%) districts don’t have any access to hospitals in an one hour foot walking range and those of 43 of 119 (36%) districts in an one hour car driving range.

Figure 1: Input Datasets from the Humanitarian Data Exchange portal

Figure 2: Isochrones from OpenRouteService API and health care accessibility per district


  • Preprocessing: Get data for districts, health facilities, population density, population count per disctrict.
  • Analysis: Compute accessibility to health care facilities using OpenRouteService API, Derive the percentage of people with access to health care per district.
  • Results: Visualize results as choropleth maps.
Datasets and Tools:

As part of the practical field training “3D Geodatenerfassung im Hochgebirge (Ötztal)”, 29
July - 04 August, 16 students explore pyhsical geography in an impressive high-mountain
environment in the Ötztal valley, Austria.

With the help of terrestrial LiDAR, RTK GNSS, close range photogrammetry and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), multi-source datasets will be captured for the analysis of surface and subsurface characteristics of different landforms (e.g. a glacier and a moraine). After exhausting field work the Obergurgl University Center provides us with great accommodation and a perfect working environment for data processing.

Yesterday the field trip has started with an overview hiking tour from Obergurgl via Hohe Mut mountain to the Rotmoosferner glacier in the beautiful Rotmoos valley. Find some impressions in the pictures below.

Today one group captured the lower tongue area of the Rotmoosferner glacier with terrestrial LiDAR. A second group measured an ERT profile across an end moraine of the Rotmoosferner glacier from the year 1850. A third group did photogrammetric and RTK GNSS measurements around the area of this end moraine.

We will keep you updated about the field trip with daily posts - stay tuned!

P.S.: You would like to experience this impressive high-mountain environment yourself and
are interested in innovative geodata processing methods in mountain research? Then
the Innsbruck Summer School of Alpine Research 2019 is the perfect opportunity!
Find impressions of the first and second editions of the
now established Summer School of Alpine Research.

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