Spatialization, Media and Society
For the purposes of the work in this research cluster, communication and media are considered as the user (in a wide sense) interface as well as hypotheses generator for geospatial research and ultimately practical applications. Cognitive processes lead to mental mapswhich are highly relevant for action. They in turn modify physical and societal spaces. This cycle of communication/media→mentalmaps→humanaction→altered physical/social space is thus an inseparable part of GIScience, specifically informing and controlling the course of human (inter)action.
As geographic principles and cartographic techniques are increasingly deployed in the visualization and processing of non-geographic information Geographic Information Science needs to provide a methodological bridge matching geometric entities and the cognitive categories that underlie our understanding and representation of space. This is the area of investigation, research and doctoral learning of this #3 research cluster S/M.
S/M addresses the unprecedented increase in the availability of tracking data related to the movement of human beings, groups of people, vehicles or moving objects in general, typically captured through location-aware portable devices such as GPS receivers. New technical possibilities, capacities and realms arise and the aim is to instantiate Hägerstrand’s time-space trajectory concepts (see T/P research cluster). Capture of trajectory data at ﬁne temporal and spatial granularities allows for the development of new applications. However, this also requires new concepts of representation of detailed geospatial trajectories or ‘lifelines’ (see Laube et al. 2007) in order to allow for scalable processing opening new options for analysis.
Introducing the spatial perspective to fields which are not yet or not in any significant manner ‘spatially aware’ is for S/M not just a technical question. Rather, as it can be shown for instance in the inquiry domain of learning processes, it opens up new ground for basic research which goes even beyond the analytical into the heuristic. The expectation is that technical, analytic and heuristic levels are all part of the research work in the S/M cluster.
Recent work on analysis adds, in contrast to summary trajectory statistics on speed, properties such as motion, azimuth or sinuosity and refers to the variability of motion properties throughout space and time. This way this research cluster links to the T/P-cluster and goes further into communication science, navigation experience, Geoweb-engineering concepts, geospatial visual analytics and geo-spatial privacy.
Geospatial Visual Analytics enhances purely visual and interactive methods with new possibilities provided by computational techniques such as data mining, statistics, and optimization. Potential enhancements come also from developing methods to support analytical reasoning, argumentation, knowledge building, and knowledge communication. Geo-privacy involves human, natural, and technical sciences alike and is associated with the placement of confidential, personal, secret, or proprietary data on a map. Developing appropriate methods to protect such data from being “uncovered” is one important research challenge. Other research should evaluate the effects that such methods have on visual displays (Leitner & Curtis 2006) and on the results of spatial analysis.
For stronger coverage of the user perspective in GI, novel approaches to interaction need to be explored and studied in detail. A mode would be optimum if it is easily understood by end-users on the one side, and on the other this mode should be formally specified for automatic processing by computer systems. A both formal and user-centric notation (e.g. natural-language based approaches will empower users to more intensively explore the potential of existing models and also make communication and discussion of different models more effective amongst scientists. It is relevant to note here that verification of different (numerical) models can be best done when there is a common formal notion of reference scenarios and related results that the international research community can share.
Overarching research questions for PhD topics addressed in this cluster include: