GEOG 506 Projects


Peter Johnson and I had a great crop of Advanced Geographic Information Science students this year. Here are their project abstracts.

Ana Brandusescu: Location-based services: Using mobile phones to record community perceptions of university spaces

The synergy between technology and mobility has rapidly strengthened over the last couple of decades and is continuing to do so. Mobile technology, in particular mobile phones, has played an important role in the advancement of location-based services (LBS). The report investigates Ushahidi’s Crowdmap, a free and open-source software (FOSS) used as the online mapping platform for University Spaces. University Spaces was created to determine whether mobile phones can be used to record community perceptions of university space.

The research project encompasses both telecommunication and online applications to synthesize mobile technology with geographic information science (GIScience): location-based, mobile, and mapping components. Technical limitations are linked to dominant themes in LBS and GIScience. These include availability, accessibility, and interoperability of technical components, and manual short message service (SMS) geolocation. Lack of user-friendliness in software installation, software dependence, cost, and privacy and surveillance are other significant drawbacks represented in this paper. Recommendations include education and interdisciplinary knowledge as attributes that LBS should focus on for successful mobile application development and future applications.

Drew Bush: The Role Physical Spaces, Cognitive Spatial Categories and Way-finding Processes Experienced in our Home Environments Play in Environmental Beliefs and Behavior

The field of geospatial cognition has become increasingly important to researchers seeking to understand the manner in which the human mind processes earth phenomena and spatial data. Such work underlies the ways in which we teach geography to students, design visual displays of data in both the digital and physical realms, and conceive of ourselves as beings that move through space every day of our lives. Yet the manner in which human beings cognitively process the spaces of the physical world holds important implications not just for how individuals navigate geographic space but, also, for the ways in which we define and are defined by humanity’s relationship to differing geographic places. This project tests three concepts in spatial cognition research while also utilizing them to interrogate the overarching question of how physical spaces shape human beliefs about the environmental issue of climate change. Utilizing a site-intercept survey and focus group, this study establishes a relationship between communities where respondents identify elements of the natural world as being important and these respondents own level of concern with the environmental issue of climate change. Yet the relationship between these two ideas is far from clear. The relative naturalness of such features and the actual physical spaces that define such spaces do not necessarily play a role in determining environmental beliefs. This report concludes by recommending avenues for future research that might make use of both practical and theoretical lessons learned in the conduct of this research to improve the findings of this study.

Andrew Funamoto: An Outremont Visual Preference Survey: Can a VPS function as a Spatial Decision Support System?

Visual Preference Surveys have been used in the past to determine how people feel towards a certain image. Recent studies have suggested that these types of surveys may be used to help guide planners make more informed decisions with regards to land use development. While the research is extensive in rural settings, there is a void when looking at the urban environment and city streetscapes.

Shelley Han: Locational Privacy in GIScience: A Survey Study on the Attitudes of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

he concept of locaitonal privacy is examined in the context of critical GIS. A survey research project is developed to explore attitudes toward locational privacy of digital natives and digital immigrants. Opinions about monitoring by employers and the government, geographic artifacts in photos/videos as well as other threats to locational privacy are collected. Locational sharing habits are also explored. Results show that natives and immigrants are both moderately worried about their locational privacy. On many issues, immigrants showed higher levels of concern than natives. The results are discussed in relation to human tracking, marketing and digital identities.

Alex Hill: Scale and the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem: Issues in Defining Urbanity and Rurality

Scale and the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) are important to consider when working with spatial data, as aggregation and the need to aggregate is inherent in much research. This analysis used MAUP as a way to problematize the concepts of urbanity and rurality, commonly used yet arbitrary classifications of landscape. Using data from Census Canada for Montreal and St Hyacinthe, Québec, a baseline density was established and compared to various levels of aggregation. Through this analysis, it was found that aggregating data across and within scales changes the composition and configuration of population density as a proxy for urbanity and rurality. The results indicated that variability decreases with aggregation, but that there may be ideal levels of aggregation for certain data where no significant changes occur to the characteristics of the data. MAUP is therefore not necessarily only a problem, but could also be used as a tool to better understand ones data and how to work appropriately within constraints that could require aggregation of data. Further research into this problem would require additional levels and methods of aggregation, as well as a combination of characteristics that could be associated to urbanity and rurality to determine how these changes could implicate people and decisions on the ground.

Jeremy Keyzer: Uncertainty in Geo-spatial Information: Examining Contaminated Sites in Montréal

The project was in collaboration with (Sites décontaminés et contaminés à Montréal). The project situated Montréal’s contaminated sites within the GIScience topic of uncertainty. Through the visualization process, the amount of uncertainty present within and between the federal, provincial, and municipal datasets was explored and communicated. Further, by examining the visual output through the lens of each type of uncertainty—positional, attribute, temporal, and completeness—specific examples of uncertainty were highlighted.

Jill Messier: Geolibraries and the Geography of Research: Where is research in land use science conducted and where are those who conduct it?

This paper focuses on the application of geolibraries to determine whether spatial patterns exist in where research is conducted and where the researchers are located who conduct this research. In this paper, the Journal of Land Use Science was used as the data source for author and article information. The paper begins with a brief introduction describing the importance of the project. Explanations of both the concept of a geolibrary and the reasons for searching for spatial patterns in research are then provided. Procedures for data collection, processing and analysis follow in the methodology. The results of the project and their analysis and discussion are then found. The paper concludes with a summary of important findings and future recommendations. The project was able to create a very basic geolibrary based on the geolibrary definition of Jankowska and Jankowski (2000). This geolibrary can be used to search by location through a bounding box to find articles and authors related to a particular location and may also be searched through the title and author text fields. With regard to the clustering of the locational information associated with the Journal of Land Use Science, statistically significant clustering was found for both the authors and the articles.

Suthee (Peck) Sangiambut: Human-Computer Interaction and GIS: Comparing systems-centred and user-centred system usability

A usability evaluation was performed on two GIS applications, Google Maps and ArcMap 10, in order to make comparisons between the two types of interface design. Evaluation was done by volunteer workshop where participants were observed performing tasks and answering a questionnaire. Results were mixed and sometimes inconclusive due to a lack of data or problems with evaluation setup. Still, it was clear that ArcMap 10 was favoured in a number of usability aspects, but it is emphasized that results are only pertinent to the selected target group and could not be extrapolated to the general public.

Jason Wong: Raster-based Temporal Interpolation Utilizing Fuzzy Logic and a Markov-Cellular Automata Model

Temporal Geographic Information Science deals with the modeling of spatial phenomena over time and the indexing of this temporal information into databases. Principles of temporal GIS are explored in an effort to temporally interpolate land cover changes in Cotocachi, Ecuador. Fuzzy set logic, Markov chains, and cellular automata are used to create a spatially-aware, temporal annual simulation of forested and unforested areas from 2001 to 2006. A rudimentary temporal database is also created to illustrate the underlying support and search-ability temporal analyses demand. The implications of this methodology are related back to critical GIS issues of temporal continuity, uncertainty, and temporal databases.

Jin Xing: Using Geospatial Cloud Cyberinfrastructure to Collect, Manage, and Visualize Canadian Highway Information

In this project, I create a cloud computing based geospatial cyberinfrastructure that collects and visualizes Canadian Highway information with Google Maps. First, this project aims to verify a revised definition of a geospatial cyberinfrastructure, which is based in the cloud and augmented by unstructured volunteered geographic content. Second, I utilize geospatial principles to guide the design of a geospatial cyberinfrastructure. Third, this project presents a framework to visualize onto Google Maps of Twitter information in real-time. This framework can be very useful for sociology research in GIScience. Finally, I utilize Canadian Highway information collection and visualization to evaluate the performance of the cloud computing based geospatial cyberinfrastructure with different criteria. This project validates the definition of geospatial cyberinfrastructure and geospatial principles, and the methodologies used in this project can benefit other research domains as well.