Book on Geographic Visualization

Posted: January 17th, 2008 | No Comments »

Martin Dodge’s edited book Geographic Visualization is getting nearer completion. The latest table of contents includes a few chapters close to my focus:

  • The Visual City by Andy Hudson-Smith (probably based on ‘Digital Urban – The Visual City‘)
  • The Role of Map Animation for Geographic Visualization by Mark Harrower
  • Making Uncertainty Usable: Approaches for Visualizing Uncertainty Information by Stephanie Deitrick and Robert Edsall (including a section on “Uncertainty visualization: a user-centred research agenda”)
  • Visualizing Data Gathered by Mobile Phones by Michael A. E. Wright, Leif Oppermann and Mauricio Capra

Flow Map Layout

Posted: January 17th, 2008 | No Comments »

Word done by Doantam Phan under the umbrella of Terry Winograd at Stanford and presented at InfoVis 2005, Flow Map Layout uses a method for generating flow maps using hierarchical clustering given a set of nodes, positions, and flow data between the nodes. The abstract goes as follow:

Cartographers have long used flow maps to show the movement of objects from one location to another, such as the number of people in a migration, the amount of goods being traded, or the number of packets in a network. The advantage of flow maps is that they reduce visual clutter by merging edges. Most flow maps are drawn by hand and there are few computer algorithms available. We present a method for generating flow maps using hierarchical clustering given a set of nodes, positions, and flow data between the nodes. Our techniques are inspired by graph layout algorithms that minimize edge crossings and distort node positions while maintaining their relative position to one another. We demonstrate our technique by producing flow maps for network traffic, census data, and trade data.

The designer of this visualization used the Flow Map Layout to produce a flow map which then they mapped to a globe. It appears in the UK Interdependence Report.

Relation to my thesis: I am looking for techniques to improve my flows maps of tourists.

Leveraging Urban Digital Footprints with Social Navigation and Seamful Design

Posted: January 16th, 2008 | No Comments »

Late last year, a position paper I submitted to the Urban Mixed Reality workshop at CHI’08 was only accepted as a poster presentation. In this paper, we propose that digital footprints present an opportunity to the residents and tourists the ability to look down on the city and view the activities and their consequences. When this information is fed back to the community, it can inform the decision-making and change the behaviors through social navigation. However, the design of a social navigation service should take into consideration the lack of accuracy in space and time of digital footprints. Apparently, the unique reviewer who rejected the paper understood that we propose the use of digital footprints to support people in navigating (orientation/path/aims) in the city.

So I thought that instead of flying overseas to present a poster, it might be more relevant to leave this position paper online with its reviews, open for discussion and thoughts to the reader of this blog. Considering the encouraging comments of the second reviewer, I will most probably recycle it for future publications.

Leveraging urban digital footprints with social navigation and seamful design
Girardin, F., Nova, N., Dal Fiore, F., Ratti, C., Blat, J.

Abstract. The widespread deployment of mobile and wireless technologies increases the amount of recorded interactions between humans and the urban environment. The accumulation of these digital footprints provides new opportunities to reveal human behaviors in space. Beyond their utility to improve the quantity and quality of mobility data already available to urban planners and local authorities, this information can be returned to residents and visitors to enhance their perception of the space and inform their discussions and decision making. In this paper, we argue that digital footprints, when properly revealed, can act as social navigation cues to support the exploration of the city.

[Full paper - 104KB]

Reviewer 1 (reject):
The paper discussed ideas on how to make patterns of mobility and flow based on digital footprints available to tourists and residents. The discussion is based on two concepts – ‘social navigation’ and ‘seamful design’. I miss a reflection on previous studies on supporting people’s orientations/paths/aims when moving in a city through giving them visual information. This is a quite complex endeavor and it is not sufficient to provide a ‘vision’ without thorough grounding. For example, I don’t underdstand the usefulness of ‘seams’ (uncertainty of data, lack of timeliness, etc.) for people. You may want to read Bill Gaver’s paper on ‘Ambiguity as a resource for design’.

Reviewer 2 (accept):
The paper argues for the use of digital footprints as social navigation cues for the exploration of the city. Digital footprints are space and time referenced data that are produced by the increased amount of recorded interactions between humans and the urban environment. The paper presents an approach meant to leverage this kind of mobility data to support awareness of the overall dynamics of an urban space and affect the discussion and decision-making of residents and visitors in that space. Challenges inherent to the rendering of spatio-temporal data in mobile and urban environments are addressed by adopting a “seamful design” approach revealing the imperfection of the sensed data.

The contribution of the paper to an overall framework for the social use of mobility data is timely and likely to raise discussion. Suggestions for improvement: the authors may want to better explain the idea of “cultural views of mobility” and provide more examples on the kind of data that could be used and how their visualization would inform people’s behaviour in the urban space.

The Urbanware Neighborhood API

Posted: January 10th, 2008 | No Comments »

Urban Mapping, a provider of geospatial data and services released today an API to access its Urbanware Neighborhood database and computation logic for neighborhoods, other informally-defined regions and transit systems. This service include neighborhoods located at a point/location, neighborhoods within a city or bounding box, alternative neighborhood names, relationships with other neighborhoods (nesting, aliases, dominance), multi-lingual support, intersecting postal codes and intersecting municipalities.

Relation to my thesis: Human’s perspective of the space hardly translates to its digital definition stored geographic information systems (see Defining Neighborhoods and User-Centered Approach on Geodata). I am eager to play around with the Urbanware API (the dataset includes Barcelona)


Posted: January 9th, 2008 | No Comments »

In the light of my latest spatio-temporal visualization, I stumbled on Paul Torrens’ Geosimulation and his research on modeling time, space, and behavior. He will present his work on Wi-Fi mapping and geography at the upcoming O’Reilly Emerging Technologies (ETech) conference.

Paul describes geosimulation as:

Geosimulation is a catch-all phrase that can be used to represent a new wave of spatial simulation modeling that has come to the fore in very recent years. Besides traditional urban modeling and simulation, the intellectual roots of geosimulation derive from recent developments in computer science and geographic information science. The geosimulation approach draws together a diversity of theories and techniques, offering a unique perspective that traditional simulation has commonly lacked: a view of urban phenomena as a result of the collective dynamics of interacting objects, often represented at the scale of individual households, people, and units of real estate and at time-scales approaching “real time”.

The book Geosimulation. Automata-based modeling of urban phenomena covers the subject

The cloud of Wi-Fi signal that envelops central Salt Lake City, UT, generated by ~1700 access points. Courtesy of Paul Torrens.

Relation to my thesis: Besides the geospatial information visualization, this works relates to my exploration of agent-based modeling. Generating a “geosimulation” was one of the potential approach to validate models of people use of location information. It is also interesting to see that these types of spatio-temporal analysis (urban analytics) projects now reaching the audience of emerging technologies conferences. I strongly expect a “urban computing” (or whatever the catch-all word will be) track at LIFT 2009…

Ocean Break

Posted: January 7th, 2008 | No Comments »

gijon beach san lorenzo waves surfers waves 10 gijon

Contextual Ad

Posted: January 7th, 2008 | No Comments »

contextual ad

The City Is Here For You To Use: Urban form and experience in the age of ubiquitous computing

Posted: January 3rd, 2008 | No Comments »

This makes my day! Adam announces The City Is Here For You To Use… “power to the people” style. This book will seeks to understand what impact everyware will likely to have on metropolitan form and experience. It will cover questions and themes close to my heart such as:

  • How might we use these new technologies to create liveable, humane, sustainable and vibrant places?
  • Will we be able to do so while managing the inevitable new orders of frustration and inconvenience they’ll occasion – to say nothing of their unsettling, inherent potential for panoptical surveillance and regulation?

3D Geospatial Visualization of Tourist Density and Flows

Posted: January 2nd, 2008 | No Comments »

While finishing a journal paper on our initial results of Tracing the Visitor’s Eye, I completed the development of my “Urban Dynamics” software to visualize on top of Google Earth the tourist density and flows. There is an explanatory page with examples of Barcelona, Spain and Florence, Italy available in: 3D geospatial visualization of tourist density and flows

Florence Flows Density Barcelona Flow Density

Relation to my thesis: I have been developing “Urban Dynamics” as a tool to analyze spatio-temporal data of field studies. It is also a piece of work that proves that 2008 might be the year of Neogeographer as suggested by Andrew Hudson-Smith at CASA.