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We know many examples when VGI data (e.g., OpenStreetMap, Wikimapia, etc.) help to cope with effects of various humanitarian disasters all over the world. The reason of using open crowd-sourced data is clear. The geographic data are available for free. If, for some reason, data are missing for a specific region, it is not a problem. Necessary geo-data can be even delivered by volunteers in few hours/days, right after an unpredictable hit of a natural disaster.

Over years our research group collaborates with humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF), British and American Red Cross, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team (HOT) and hosts workshops and courses for disaster mapping with Volunteered Geographic Information. Recently, we received a request from a rescue team of German Red Cross in Limburg a.d. Lahn to support their search and rescue activities with a digital map based on OpenStreetMap data. The requested map should be compatible with MRMap software, which has been tested by the mentioned team for the purpose to be used in trainings and field operations. Note, MRMap is free software for Mountain Rescue in the UK and Ireland and is used for tracking MR personnel during training and callouts. This software is used by over 50 Rescue Teams across the UK and Ireland.

Our task was to generate tiles for MRMap in a specific format and in custom projection which is different from a well-known Spherical Mercator. To perform our task, we made use of advanced MapSurfer.NET framework. More exactly, we wrote a plugin that is able to generate MRMap tiles for any map designed in MapSurfer.NET Studio (see figure below). This extension let us to prepare maps for MRMap for any scale and region in the world. Therefore, if you are interested in trying MRMap out in your rescue team, but you don’t have a good digital map or you don’t want to pay the fees for software or geo-data provided by commercial companies, then you can use OpenStreetMap data and MapSurfer.NET framework to design and render your own custom maps. In particular, for the rescue team from Limburg a.d. Lahn, we prepared a cartographic product using a map style from OpenMapSurfer.

An element of a user interface in MapSurfer.NET Studio.

Have you ever thought that your contribution to OpenStreetMap can save somebody’s life? It might be that right now somewhere a search and rescue team uses your contributed data to search for missing or buried people. Do not put off your mappings till tomorrow, sign up and make your contribution to the OpenStreetMap project. It does not matter whether you will contribute a road segment, a building or a POI. Everything is essentially important and valuable, because nobody knows what will help those brave rescuers (see image below) to do their job in a certain situation.

Members of a rescue team at work (Rettungshundestaffel Limburg DRK KV Limburg e.V.).

Members of a rescue team at work (Rettungshundestaffel Limburg DRK KV Limburg e.V.).

The GIScience Heidelberg team wishes a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers of our blog! Thank you for your great interest in our work and stay tuned in 2015.

We have to cancel the talk in GIScience Colloquium on Thu 18 December 2014.

Our #mapforaccess mapping party has been covered in yesterdays issue of the local newspaper Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung (~80,000 copies per day in the Rhine-Neckar region). Enjoy reading!

(Click to enlarge)

We are happy to announce that a new paper with the title Effects of Reduced Terrestrial LiDAR Point Density on High-Resolution Grain Crop Surface Models in Precision Agriculture has been published in the special issue Agriculture and Forestry: Sensors, Technologies and Procedures in the journal Sensors:

3D geodata play an increasingly important role in precision agriculture, e.g., for modeling in-field variations of grain crop features such as height or biomass. A common data capturing method is LiDAR, which often requires expensive equipment and produces large datasets. This study contributes to the improvement of 3D geodata capturing efficiency by assessing the effect of reduced scanning resolution on crop surface models (CSMs). The analysis is based on high-end LiDAR point clouds of grain crop fields of different varieties (rye and wheat) and nitrogen fertilization stages (100%, 50%, 10%). Lower scanning resolutions are simulated by keeping every n-th laser beam with increasing step widths n. For each iteration step, high-resolution CSMs (0.01 m2 cells) are derived and assessed regarding their coverage relative to a seamless CSM derived from the original point cloud, standard deviation of elevation and mean elevation. Reducing the resolution to, e.g., 25% still leads to a coverage of >90% and a mean CSM elevation of >96% of measured crop height. CSM types (maximum elevation or 90th-percentile elevation) react differently to reduced scanning resolutions in different crops (variety, density). The results can help to assess the trade-off between CSM quality and minimum requirements regarding equipment and capturing set-up.

The last talk in 2014 is approaching quickly. We cordially invite you to the colloquium:

18.12.14, Lecture Hall Berliner Straße 48: Geo-Information Fusion: Gaining additional value for real-time Digital Earth applications

Feel free to find more detailed information under http://www.geog.uni-heidelberg.de/gis/veranstaltungen.html

The GIScience Reserarch Group Heidelberg contributed to the workshop „Aktuelle Formen der Präsentation und Edition beschrifteter Artefakte“ through a presentation about the joint project MayaArch3D which was given by Lukas Loos. The workshop took place at the International Science Forum Heidelberg and was jointly organized by the DFG SFB 933 „Materiale Textkulturen“ and the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage (HCCH).


The Sino-German workshop on Multi-dimensional Global Mapping and Services was jointly organized by Prof. Dr. Qing Zhu at Southwest Jiaotong University (SWJTU) and Prof. Dr. Alexander Zipf at Heidelberg University. The workshop was supported by the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion, and was held in the new campus of Southwest Jiaotong University on December 2 and 3, 2014 in Chengdu, China.

The aims of the workshop were to bring together leading experts from Germany and China in the field of GIScience to exchange their research findings, experiences, as well as perspectives for the future, in further to discuss and find solution for multi-dimensional global mapping and services.
Totally, the workshop had 26 invited talks. 12 talks were given by presenters from Germany, 14 talks were given by Chinese colleagues incl. those from Hong Kong. The speakers were deliberately invited from different disciplines, such as geoinformatics & giscience, remote sensing, photogrammetry, cartography, geography, visual analytics, computer vision, and computer science. The presentations on this workshop mainly focused on global land cover, 3D city models, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), Web GIS, web services, quality assessment, map design and visualization, data acquisition and processing, and applications. The workshop attracted many researchers and graduate students from Southwest Jiaotong University and other universities in China as well. More than 50 participants attended the workshop.

A PostDoc position is available in the GIScience Research Group (http://uni-heidelberg.de/gis), Department of Geography of the Heidelberg University within a third-party funded research project at the intersection of 3D geodata processing and analysis of user-generated content (e.g. VGI). The GIScience Research Group has a strong emphasis on 3D data processing and analysis (including LiDAR research). The PostDoc should have a demonstrated research track in one or more of the following topics:

-    Crowdsourced and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI)
-    Analysis and Modeling of 3D Geodata (e.g. point clouds)
-    Algorithms development for (3D) spatial analysis, geoprocessing and fusion of heterogeneous geoinformation (e.g. crowdsourced and VGI)

The position is initially funded for 3 years. Start in early 2015.

We expect a PhD in either Geoinformatics, Geography, Computer Science or related fields, as well as strong and demonstrated research experience and know-how in Geoinformatics / GIScience, paired with the ability for independent scientific work, as well as teamwork and leadership. Proven experience in the acquisition of third-party funding is an asset.

We offer an attractive job in an international and interdisciplinary dynamic team with excellent possibilities for research and further qualification. The GIScience Research Group is member in the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (IWR), the Heidelberg Center for the Environment and the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage (HCCH). The University of Excellence Heidelberg belongs to the internationally top ranked universities and offers an especially stimulating research environment: http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/university/rankings/

Please send the common documents (cover letter, CV incl. grades, publications and further scientific achievements) to Mrs. Bettina Knorr: Bettina.knorr@geog.uni-heidelberg.de (Managing Assistant of Prof. A. Zipf and Jun.-Prof. B. Höfle). Selection of candidates starts from January 2015 until the position is filled.

PDF version of the job call is available here: postdoc_position_giscience_heidelberg

The next talk of the semester will take place on next Thursday afternoon (11th December, 04:15pm). It will be held by professor Jukka Krisp from the University of Augsburg and will be held in the lecture hall in Berliner Straße 48. We cordially invite you to this stimulating colloquium session, which is entitled:

Location Based Services (LBS) – Cases of navigation and wayfinding

Feel free to find more information about all our events under http://www.geog.uni-heidelberg.de/gis/veranstaltungen.html

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