MacEachren – Visualizing Geospatial Information Uncertainty

Uncertainty relates well to the topic of critical GIS in the sense that it challenges the foundation of the process. However, it differs in its specificity to what is being deemed uncertain/what is being challenged. In this case we talk about error, accuracy and precision from results and data while assuming that the core concepts of error, accuracy, and precision are well defined to begin with.

The article does a great job relating uncertainty to a wide range of GIS examples and explaining proper procedures to deal with it. One point i would’ve liked to see expanded upon is the mathematical ways in which we can compute and account for uncertainty. The paper mentions how the calculation of uncertainty within an expression is ideal compared to fabrication of assumptions and use of stereotypes. However, There seems to be problems within this as well: ‘how are these values derived to begin with? are they estimated? would estimations not also have their own range of uncertainty?’. Further at what point are we certain about any of the data involved at any given point of the process; as assumptions and simplifications are made throughout the entire system from data collection to final product. Effectively, it can be a tricky concept to wrap your head around when it can be applied at so many stages of the process without having a clear idea of how these uncertainties may be translated and transformed between steps.

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