Feed on

We cordially invite everybody interested to our next open GIScience colloquium talk

The speaker is Dr. Nama Budhathoki
Executive Director of Kathmandu Living Labs

When: Monday 26.03.2018, 14:00 st

Where: INF 348, room 015 (Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University)


Production and use of information during emergencies: Experience from 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Information is one of the most critical infrastructures in times of crisis. Since situation on the ground keeps on rapidly changing, traditional model of information collection and access does not fully meet the needs of  response and relief agencies. Taking the example of 2015 Nepal earthquake, the speaker will share an emerging model of information production, sharing and use in times of complex emergencies. Reflecting upon this experience, he will attempt to outline research agendas to minimize the gap between academia research and practitioners’ needs.
Dr. Budhathoki is the Founder and Executive Director of Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL) - a Kathmandu-based not-for-profit company carrying pioneering work in the fields of Open Mapping and civic technology. KLL’s work after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes is considered a leading example of digital humanitarianism and has received extensive coverage in major media outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, Forbes, Wired, MyRepublica, Setopati. Under his leadership, the KLL team has developed Nepal’s OpenStreetMap as one of the most thriving digital communities in the developing countries. Nama led the technology and innovation component of the world’s biggest mobile data collection project for National Reconstruction Authority to help them identify housing beneficiaries and plan the reconstruction work. His team also helped National Planning Commission to open this data for public access and use by developing a web portal. Nama’s team is currently working with several local governments to enhance transparency, accountability and civic engagement though digital technology.

Currently HeiGIT/GIScience Heidelberg and KLL are working together to develop an OSM analytics dashboard on OSM history analysis for better understanding the situation with resepct to OSM data quality and it’s evolution in Nepal.


Furthermore, we are working together on an extension of the OpenRouteService for disaster management to facilitate the integration of mobile data collection approaches. This would allow direct engagement of the disaster affected communities on the ground and therefore more dynamic updating of the routing service in disaster scenarios.

Are you at the FOSSGIS.de conference in Bonn this week? Don’t miss the lightning talk by Stefan Eberlein on OpenStreetMap Extracts as a Service in near “Real-Time”.
Date: 22.03., 9:4 am.
Room: Alfred-Philippson-Hörsaal

Lightning Talk: OpenStreetMap-Extrakte als Service in nahezu “Real-Time”
Track: Freie Daten

The Real-time OSM data extraction service provides individual OSM extracts in near real-time. The software was developed at the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) to provide the route planner openrouteservice.org with up-to-the-minute data in the event of a disaster as explained here. The short presentation gives an overview of the tool and its functionality.
openrouteservice for disaster management

Several geospatial applications require comprehensive semantic information from points-of-interest (POIs). However, this information is frequently dispersed across different collaborative mapping platforms. Surprisingly, there is still a research gap on the conflation of POIs from this type of geo-dataset. In a recent paper by Novack et al. (2018), we focus on the matching aspect of POI data conflation by proposing two matching strategies based on a graph whose nodes represent POIs and edges represent matching possibilities. We demonstrate how the graph is used for
(1) dynamically defining the weights of the different POI similarity measures we consider;
(2) tackling the issue that POIs should be left unmatched when they do not have a corresponding POI on the other dataset and
(3) detecting multiple POIs from the same place in the same dataset and jointly matching these to the corresponding POI(s) from the other dataset.
The strategies we propose do not require the collection of training samples or extensive parameter tuning. They were statistically compared with a “naive”, though commonly applied, matching approach considering POIs collected from OpenStreetMap and Foursquare from the city of London (England). In our experiments, we sequentially included each of our methodological suggestions in the matching procedure and each of them led to an increase in the accuracy in comparison to the previous results. Our best matching result achieved an overall accuracy of 91%, which is more than 10% higher than the accuracy achieved by the baseline method.

It is important to point out that neither the edges final weight computation nor the matching strategies we proposed require time-costly collection of training samples. Because of that, our methods can be more easily integrated into broader workflows with goals beyond the POI conflation step. Furthermore, unsupervised POI matching methods tend to be more transferable than supervised methods, which, although possibly more effective in a specific area, involve the risk of over-fitting and therefore of poor transferability.

Novack, T.; Peters, R.; Zipf, A. (2018): Graph-Based Matching of Points-of-Interest from Collaborative Geo-Datasets. ISPRS Internat. Journal of Geo-Inf. 2018, 7, 117. doi:10.3390/ijgi7030117

Related selected earlier Work:

The third workshop on 3D methods in geological applications was jointly organized by the University of Göttingen, the Geological Service of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW, German federal state), and the 3D Geo Research Group at Heidelberg University. The workshop is an event of the initiative “3D Field Methods in Geosciences”, which provides a platform to connect all people working on the development and/or application of 3D methods in the field of earth science.

Range of topics in the initiative

Range of topics in the initiative (Source: https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/3d-initiative/533728.html)

This year’s workshop took place at our GIScience department and focused on workflows from data acquisition to analysis of 3D geological outcrop data. Great interest and lively discussion were initiated by presentations on

  • The correction of LiDAR backscatter information (Bernhard Höfle, 3D Geo)
  • The mobile positioning system Pilot 3D (Daniel Schröder, DMT)
  • Geological structures in point clouds (Mathias Knaak, Geological Service NRW)
  • 3D field survey in structural geology (Bianca Wagner, Applied Geology at University of Göttingen)
  • Current UAV 3D scan projects and novel methods of visualization (Philipp Matschoß, 3FACES)
  • Digital geological mapping in Austria (Markus Palzer-Khomenko, Austrian Geological Association)

A field trip to an active outcrop in Nußloch (Heidelberg Cement) offered the opportunity to test two terrestrial laser scanning systems for high-precision 3D data acquisition. The trip was organized by Till Drews and Georg Miernik of the Institute of Earth Sciences at Heidelberg University and gave valuable insights into the local geological situation as well as the practical realization of geological field work with 3D positioning systems. The acquired data was used on the subsequent workshop day to demonstrate a range-dependent laser return intensity correction.
In the last block of the workshop, the participants sat together in working groups to discuss current issues of 3D methods in geology. The outcome of these discussions form the basis for future work and objectives of the initiative.
All in all, it was a successful workshop in the third year of the initiative, which (again) brought together a number of people of various backgrounds to discuss their approaches, challenges and ideas on 3D methods in geological applications.
We are looking forward to our next meeting in 2019!

In the era of big data, ubiquitous Flickr geotagged photos have opened a considerable opportunity for discovering valuable geographic information. Point of interest (POI) and region of interest (ROI) are significant reference data that are widely used in geospatial applications. A recently published study (Kuo et al 2018) study aims to develop an efficient method for POI/ROI discovery from Flickr. Attractive footprints in photos with a local maximum that is beneficial for distinguishing clusters are first exploited. Pattern discovery is combined with a novel algorithm, the spatial overlap (SO) algorithm, and the naming and merging method is conducted for attractive footprint clustering. POI and ROI, which are derived from the peak value and range of clusters, indicate the most popular location and range for appreciating attractions. The discovered ROIs have a particular spatial overlap available which means the satisfied region of ROIs can be shared for appreciating attractions. The developed method is demonstrated in two study areas in Taiwan: Tainan and Taipei, which are the oldest and densest cities, respectively.
Our major contributions are three-fold.

  • An efficient method of eliminating noises among collected footprints and selecting attractive footprints with a local maximum for delineating POIs and ROIs is proposed.
  • An effective clustering toward pattern discovery that involves spatial and temporal properties and attributes, such as tags, with a spatial overlap (SO) algorithm is exploited. The discovered ROIs are particularly spatial overlap available that the satisfied region of ROIs can be shared for appreciating attractions.
  • A POI and an ROI with peak value that indicate the most popular location and range for appreciating attractions, respectively, are uncovered

Results show that the discovered POI/ROIs nearly match the official data in Tainan, whereas more commercial POI/ROIs are discovered in Taipei by the algorithm than official data. Meanwhile, our method can address the clustering issue in a dense area.

Kuo, C.-L., T.C. Chan, I.-C. Fan, A. Zipf (2018): Efficient Method for POI/ROI Discovery Using Flickr Geotagged Photos. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(3), 121; doi:10.3390/ijgi7030121.

Related selected earlier Work:

The results of an analysis of migration data and of the Brexit referendum votes are among only four selected finalists of this year’s data challenge associated with the GISRUK conference. The research was conducted by a team advised by Professor João Porto de Albququerque (University of Warwick) including our colleague René Westerholt. The idea of the data challenge is to identify novel ways of approaching the Brexit referendum results. This helps to understand better the dynamics of referenda and will enhance our preparedness with respect to future large-scale societal movements. All finalists are invited to present their work at the conference. The winner of the challenge will additionally receive a recognition worth £500.

The ohsome OpenStreetMap history analytics platform, which is currently developed at HeiGIT, will make OSM’s full-history data more easily accessible. We are pleased to announce that we are coming closer to reaching our objectives, hereby sharing a preview of the first ohsome web dashboard. Our dashboards will allow you to explore OSM full-history data using an intuitive user interface, enabling everyone to easily operate on the rather complex and computationally intensive data.

The ohsome Nepal dashboard was sketched in consultation with our partners Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL). In the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in April/May 2015, the KLL team coordinated the global OSM community in collaboration with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The Nepal dashboard visualizes these efforts and shows the evolution of OSM building and OSM highway data that were contributed in scope of the disaster activation and beyond. As damaged housing areas were tagged as landuse=brownfield during the earthquake response, it also allows you to explore the history of OSM landuse data.

Additionally, we provide an OSM tag filter, which can give you first insights regarding data quality. For example, the OSM tag highway=road is considered to be temporary and is used for unknown or unverified roads. During the direct Nepal earthquake response the percentage of OSM highways tagged as roads increased. This indicates possible semantic inaccuracies in the post-disaster dataset, however, was further validated by the OSM community. Have a look at the Nepal dashboard to learn about more details.

This first prototype will be extended with support of the KLL team to develop an ohsome KLL dashboard that also considers further information of OSM’s full-history, e.g., about OSM user activity in Nepal.

We are very looking forward to hearing your ideas for our awesome ohsome dashboards as we are planning to address many further use cases in the future!

This work is supported by the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg. It builds upon earlier and current research on extrinsic and intrinsic OSM data quality analytics of the HeiGIT and GIScience Research Group and the growing international body of literature.

VGI-ALIVE - AnaLysis, Integration, Vision, Engagement

Tuesday 12th June 2018, Lund, Sweden, Workshop at AGILE 2018

Introduction to the VGI-ALIVE Workshop

The steady rise of data volume shared on already established and new Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and social media platforms calls for advanced analysis methods of user contribution patterns, leads to continued challenges in data fusion, and provides also new opportunities for rapid data analysis for event detection and VGI data quality assessment. Questions regarding the future of VGI and social media platforms include the prospect of continued user growth, engagement of new user groups, further expansion of VGI to educational activities, or closing data gaps in geographically underrepresented areas.

This one-day pre-conference workshop covers a wide range of VGI and social/media research topics and provides an opportunity for workshop participants to share ideas and findings on cross-platform data contributions, innovative analysis approaches, current data fusion methods, real-world applications, and the use of VGI and social media use in education. The event offers also a platform to discuss future challenges of VGI and social media, may it be on the legal or technical side, to formulate a vision for VGI and social media usage and analysis for the near future, and to live demonstrate analysis workflows and VGI applications.

One portion of the workshop is dedicated to a collaborative session, where break-out groups will discuss various timely VGI/social media research topics, such as VGI and mobility, data fusion, interoperability, and education, potentially leading to a joint paper contribution for a special issue of the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information journal.

VGI-ALIVE Workshop Topics

The principal topics for consideration in the workshop are outlined as follows:

  • Activity patterns and collaboration across multiple VGI and social media platforms
  • (Quasi) real-time analysis of VGI and social media content
  • Technical and legal aspects of crowd-sourced data fusion
  • Opportunities, challenges, and limitations for the future of VGI
  • VGI/social media analysis in geographic areas with sparse data coverage
  • Novel methods of VGI data quality assessment
  • Mobility patterns and VGI/social media
  • User engagement and VGI education
  • Closing the gaps in VGI data coverage

VGI-ALIVE Paper Submission

Submission format is a workshop short paper (2000 to 3000-word manuscript).
Authors are requested to follow the formatting guidelines for short paper submissions on the AGILE 2018 call for papers page and use the Word .doc template or the Word .docx templateprovided. Short papers should be submitted directly via e-mail to Dr. Peter Mooney at Peter.Mooney@mu.ie. Accepted short papers will be published on the workshop Website. Authors are asked to provide their paper in PDF also during the submission.

Authors of accepted workshop papers will be invited to submit full papers (maximum 20 pages) to a special issue of the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information journal with a submission deadline of 30 Nov 2018. To submit a full paper please follow the manuscript preparation and submission guidelines of the Special Issue Call for Papers.

After the conclusion of the VGI-ALIVE workshop all presentations, short papers and other presented materials will be openly accessible from this webpage. This increases the dissemination value of the workshop and follows the spirit of previous workshops in this series.

VGI-ALIVE Important Dates

  • 30 March 2018: Submission deadline for workshop papers 
  • 09 April 2018: Notification of acceptance for workshop papers
  • 15 April 2018: Early registration ends
  • 30 April 2018: Camera ready copies of workshop papers due
  • 12 June 2018: VGI-ALIVE Workshop at AGILE 2018
  • 10 November 2018: Submission deadline for extended workshop papers to special issue:

VGI-ALIVE Workshop Registration

All participants (both authors with or without workshop papers) must register for the workshop. For the VGI-ALIVE workshop registration will be handled directly with your registration for the AGILE 2018 conference. There will be a fee to attend the workshop, which can be found on the conference Web site.
Please note that the VGI-ALIVE workshop organisers are not involved with the registration process or structure for the AGILE 2018. Subsequently all questions regarding registration fees, registation terms and conditions etc should be directed to the AGILE 2018 conference organisers.

VGI-ALIVE Workshop Organisers

The VGI-ALIVE 2018 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
  • Kiran Zahra : University of Zurich, Switzerland; Email: kiran.zahra@geo.uzh.ch
  • Franz-Benjamin Mocnik : University of Heidelberg, Germany; Email: mocnik@uni-heidelberg.de

Any of the organisers will be happy to answer any queries or questions you have regarding the workshop.

VGI-ALIVE - Part of an AGILE pre-conference workshop series

We are proud to organise VGI-ALIVE as another AGILE pre-conference workshop which is part of number of successful previous workshops.
VGI-ALIVE follows on from the VGI-Analytics 2017 workshop in Wageningen University, The Netherlands in May 2017. Indeed the workshop organisers have been working together in this general research areas for several years now. VGI-Analytics followed on from a very successful pre-AGILE conference workshop in Helsinki in June 2016 with 30 attendees registered called Link-VGI: LINKing and analyzing Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) across different platforms. Please see the workshop web-page for LinkVGI 2016. 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.

Further information: http://www.cs.nuim.ie/~pmooney/vgi-alive2018/

Currently Heidelberg University is establishing a PhD Research Training Group (RTG)
on “Big Data Research
together with several Indian Universities and Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in the context of the HGS MathComp at the IWR (Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing). Partners from India include Allhabad University, Delhi University (MoU pending), Jawaharlal Nehru University, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras.
While the main focus is on big data research in the biosciences, also the GIScience Research Group Heidelberg is participating, because of the similarity of methods and technologies that are being used.
The program just started with a Winter School on Big Data Research at Heidelberg University. Currently several participants from India visit Heidelberg University for a 2 months period. During that time several half day compact courses are given for the students from India. On Tuesday March 13 it is the turn for GIScience HD with Prof. Alexander Zipf presenting an overview of Big Data Research at GIScience Heidelberg and René Westerholt giving a Primer on Spatial Analysis “Geographic thinking in computing”. The different participants are hosted by the participating principal investigators of the RTG Big Data Research. We are looking forward to fruitful results from that Winter School and further collaboration with the partner institutions from India.
HGS MathComp

Geographic Information has become big in recent years as the spatial and temporal resolution of data increases considerably and global coverage is the goal. Vast amounts of unstructured and spatially attributed data are continuously generated and available on the web, from technical sensors on the earth, remote sensing and produced by humans. Prominent examples include Volunteered Geographic Information like OpenStreetMap (OSM) or from Social Media.

With our background in GIScience and using methods such as geocomputation, data mining and machine learning, we extract precious knowledge from such datasets, e.g. by finding latent patterns and regularities to answer research questions on geographical phenomena relevant for society or environment. In combination with official geographical information from public administrations these have become an important asset e.g. for disaster management purposes. Processing, analyzing and aggregating these different kind of data sources enables e.g. humanitarian aid organizations and emergency responders to obtain a comprehensive view of the specific catastrophe on site to name one application. Our overall goal is to integrate, improve and enrich geographic information such as OSM or to derive new information layers e.g. through data fusion and machine learning.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Im Neuenheimer Feld 205
Seminar room 10
69120 Heidelberg


Our colleague René Westerholt was recently invited to deliver a Masterclass on ‘Spatial Analysis’ at the University of Warwick (UK) on Tuesday, 6th of March. The one-day-event was hosted by the Q-Step Centre, an initiative to strengthen quantiative skills of students enrolled at the Social Science Faculty. The workshop was attended by students from various fields of study, such as applied mathematics, sociology and economics. Masterclasses are held at Warwick to cover topics which are usually not covered exhaustively by the university’s own programmes.

Later this week, on Thursday, René conducted a WISC Workshop at the ‘Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities’. This event was held at the invitation of Prof. João Porto de Albuquerque (CIM, Warwick) and focussed on ‘Spatial Heterogeneity’. It comprised a talk, an R-code-demonstration, and break-out sessions followed by an interactive discussion.

Older Posts »