How fast is a cow? (Laube 2011): Moo-vement GIS

Although I’ve never contemplated the speed at which a cow moves at, in this in depth paper I realize (as with the many subsets of GIS we’ve investigated in this course), that movement too has a very nuanced methodology to be done correctly. I found it refreshing to finally see genuine critique of GPS accuracy in a GIS paper, as we often find these instruments to be ‘accurate’. Attempting to counter this uncertainty with increased temporal scale brings up the day old GIS problem of accuracy vs. precision, where in collecting lots of data is somehow seen to offset the accuracy issues, and precisely return incorrect results. I found the measures of sinuosity and turning angle, interesting proxies to determine not only the speed cows actually move at, though also inferring behavior (i.e. grazing). This begs the question of when movement information is collected on individuals, and whether whoever’s collecting the data infers someones behaviour solely on movement (i.e. RFID trackers in passports to detect ‘loitering’). This would be a complete breach of privacy in my opinion, and an example of coerced VGI, which movement GIS could easily be used in (which becomes apparent when the author brings up the innocent commercial shopping cart example besides the tracking of individuals).

Lastly, I find movement (in very much the same vein as temporal GIS) a key study in GIScience, that comes with a humble name though contains lots of variables to consider to avoid the inherent uncertainty that comes with both temporal and geographic scale, as well as instrument error. Lots of uncertainty still remains in the authors work (such as what thresholds to pick to omit information?) which only gets more complicated when you consider that the information gathered (although not very rich in it’s attribute data (x/y coordinates and a time stamp), can quickly become big data in the millions for just three cows, and be used for so much more than tracking movement, though also inferring behaviour, and possibly predicting movement and behaviour if gathered on a regular enough basis.


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