PhD Studentship in Context-Aware Movement Analysis (CAMA) at the University of Zurich

The GIS Division at the Department of Geography, University of Zurich invites applications for a PhD studentship to work on a Swiss National Science Foundation grant developing new methods for the spatio-temporal analysis of movement data. The successful applicant will be based in Zurich and supervised by Dr. Patrick Laube.

The GIS Division is one of two GIScience divisions at the Department of Geography, University of Zurich. The two divisions form one of the largest GIScience concentrations in the world, with a range of research groups working on diverse topics including digital terrain modeling, uncertainty, geographic data mining and information retrieval, geovisual analytics, and spatial cognition research. For more information, see

The main research focus will be the development of methods that relate movement trajectory data to the underlying geographical context in which that movement is embedded. This work will involve the conceptual and formal modeling of moving objects, their geographical context, and the object-context interrelation, as well as the design and evaluation of algorithms detecting such interrelations. The project is positioned in the area of GIScience, with links to data mining and knowledge discovery in databases, information retrieval, scientific visualization, and geometric algorithm design. A clear set of research goals are identified in the project proposal, but the successful candidate will be expected to develop and refine these throughout the project.

Applicants must have a

  1. Masters degree in GIScience, geomatics, or geography, or
  2. Masters degree in computer science, software engineering, or environmental science with a demonstrable interest in geographic information science/spatial sciences.

Applicants must be able to pursue data-oriented computational research. A good standard of written and spoken English is required.

Applicants should have an interest in the project’s application domains of behavioral ecology and/or transportation and urban mobility. Knowledge in methodologies for spatio-temporal data management and analysis, as well as programming and scripting skills are an advantage. Knowledge of German, whilst not required, would be an advantage.

Interested candidates should send an application letter, a Curriculum Vitae, and contact details (including e-mail addresses) for three referees (preferably electronically as pdf) to:

Dr Patrick Laube
Department of Geography
University of Zurich – Irchel
Winterthurerstrasse 190
CH 8057 Zurich

The position will start on 1st November 2010, or as soon as possible thereafter, and is for three years. Applications will close on 15th September 2010, but we will continue to accept high quality applications until the position is filled.


Improving Geocode Accuracy with Candidate Selection Criteria

Transactions in GIS, Volume 14 Issue s1, Pages 149 – 176

Daniel W. Goldberg and Myles G. Cockburn

“Geocoding systems typically use more than one geographic reference dataset to improve match rates and spatial accuracy, resulting in multiple candidate geocodes from which the single “best” result must be selected. Little scientific evidence exists for formalizing this selection process or comparing one strategy to another, leading to the approach used in existing systems which we term the hierarchy-based criterion: place the available reference data layers into qualitative, static, and in many cases, arbitrary hierarchies and attempt a match in each layer, in order. The first non-ambiguous match with suitable confidence is selected and returned as output. This approach assumes global relationships of relative accuracy between reference data layers, ignoring local variations that could be exploited to return more precise geocodes. We propose a formalization of the selection criteria and present three alternative strategies which we term the uncertainty-, gravitationally-, and topologically-based strategies. The performance of each method is evaluated against two ground truth datasets of nationwide GPS points to determine any resulting spatial improvements. We find that any of the three new methods improves on current practice in the majority of cases. The gravitationally- and topologically-based approaches offer improvement over a simple uncertainty-based approach in cases with specific characteristics.”

TeraGrid GIScience Gateway: Bridging Cyberinfrastructure and GIScience

International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 1362-3087, Volume 23, Issue 5, 2009, Pages 631 – 656

Shaowen Wang and Yan Liu

“Cyberinfrastructure (CI) represents the integrated information and communication technologies for distributed information processing and coordinated knowledge discovery, and is promising to revolutionize how science and engineering are conducted in the twenty-first century. The value of bridging CI and GIScience is significant to advance CI and benefit GIScience research and education, particularly in distributed geographic information processing (DGIP). This article presents a holistic framework that bridges CI and GIScience by integrating CI capabilities to empower GIScience research and education and establish generic DGIP services supported by CI. The framework, the TeraGrid GIScience Gateway, is based on a CI science gateway approach developed on the National Science Foundation (NSF) TeraGrid – a key element of US and world CI. This gateway develops a unifying service-oriented framework with respect to its architecture, design, and implementation as well as its integration with the TeraGrid. The functions of the gateway focus on enabling parallel and distributed processing for geographical analysis, managing the complexity of TeraGrid software environment, and establishing a Web-based GIS for the GIScience community to gain shared and collaborative access to TeraGrid-based geospatial processing services. The gateway implementation uses Web 2.0 technologies to create a highly configurable and interactive multiuser environment. Two case studies, Bayesian geostatistical modeling and a spatial statistic TGIS_A_375667_O_XML_IMAGES\TGIS_A_375667_O_ILM0001.gif for detecting local clustering, are used to demonstrate the gateway functions and user environment. The service transformation for these analyses is applied to create a shared, decentralized, and collaborative geographical analysis environment in which GIScience community users can contribute new analysis services and reuse existing gateway services.”

Modeling REDD Baselines using IDRISI’s Land Change Modeler

IDRISI Focus Paper, Clark Labs, 2010

“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a climate change mitigation strategy gaining momentum with conservation organizations, project developers and governments in developing countries. Forests play a major role in the sequestration of carbon, and the conservation of tropical forests, in particular, yields the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This paper will provide a general overview of modeling REDD baselines, one of many components required for REDD implementation.”

Geological Applications Using Geospatial Standards – An Example from OneGeology-Europe and GeoSciML

International Journal of Digital Earth, Volume 3, Issue S1 April 2010 , pages 31 – 49

John Laxton; Jean-Jacques Serrano; and Agnes Tellez-Arenas

“The Geoscience Markup Language (GeoSciML) has been developed to enable the interchange of geoscience information, principally that portrayed on geological maps as well as boreholes. A GeoSciML testbed was developed both to test the implementation of the data model and its application in web services. The OneGeology-Europe project aims to use the GeoSciML data model, and build on the experience of the GeoSciML testbed, in implementing a geoportal for a harmonised geological map of Europe at 1:1 million scale. This involves the integration of web services from 20 participating organisations. An important objective of OneGeology-Europe is to contribute to Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE), both through the development of a geological data specification and the use of the INSPIRE technical architecture. GeoSciML and the OneGeology-Europe project are also steps towards incorporating geoscience data into a Digital Earth. Both the development of GeoSciML and the implementation of web services for GeoSciML and OneGeology-Europe, have followed a standards-based methodology. The technical architecture comprises a geoportal providing access to a Catalogue Service for the Web for metadata describing both the data and services available. OneGeology-Europe will provide both Web Map Services view and Web Feature Services download services, which aim to be compliant with the INSPIRE implementing rules.”

Design of Sensor Web Condition using SMSC (Short Message Service Center)

ACM International Conference Proceeding Series; Vol. 321 – Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Hybrid Information Technology

Randy S. Tolentino, Kijeong Lee, Yoon-Su Jeong, Yong-Tae Kim, Sang-Ho Lee, and Gil-Cheol Park

“This paper designs wireless remote sensing device for a rapid warning and cut in the expenses of sensing and increase of sensing efficiency by detecting sensing data like a wood fire, gas, electricity, earthquake etc more easily. The wireless remote sensing condition of this paper consists of multiple sensors with ZigBee communication module, multiple relay routers, and data coordinator. The composition of wireless sensor network is multiple WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Networks) composed by cell-unit. WPAN transfers sensing data to sensor web server using SMSC (Short Message Service Center) method through more than one base station or remote network like internet. Therefore, this paper shows the appropriateness of the application which connects wireless sensor network with sensor web service. Also, this paper shows the possibility of expend on sensor network which is based on WPAN, and the capability and reliance of the proposed system as usable sensor network.”

Sensitivity of River Discharge to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 37, 2010

Philip J. Ward, Wisse Beets, Laurens M. Bouwer, Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts, and Hans Renssen

“El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has significant impacts on streamflows around the world. While many studies have assessed correlations, an assessment of the magnitude of this impact is lacking, and little is known of ENSO’s impact on extreme discharges. We use a daily discharge dataset to provide a global assessment of the sensitivity of annual mean and flood discharges to ENSO, and a gridded climate dataset to assess the global impact of ENSO on precipitation and temperature. We find that, on average, for the stations studied ENSO has a greater impact on annual high-flow events than on mean annual discharge, especially in the extra-tropics. The quantification of ENSO impacts provides relevant information for water-management, allowing the identification of problem areas and providing a basis for risk assessments.”

Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Extreme Midwestern Blizzard Storm Tracks and Subsequent Federal Disaster Declarations

Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Kansas, 26 April 2010

Christopher John Atkinson

“Using the NOAA Central Library United States Daily Weather Maps Project, the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) online weather charts, Storm Data records from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and the Academic OneFile from the University of Kansas, this study identified 145 extreme Midwestern blizzards, defined as storms with minimum central pressures at or below 992 mb, occurring between September 1, 1966, and May 31, 2008. This 42–year time period was split into two 21–year segments for comparative analyses of any changes in the spatial and temporal character of these storms: 1) September 1, 1966–May 31, 1987 (Time Period I: 79 blizzards); and, 2) September 1, 1987–May 31, 2008 (Time Period II: 66 blizzards). Changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme Midwestern blizzards proved to be statistically insignificant. All 145 blizzards in Time Periods I and II were mapped using ArcGIS 9.3 with data from the GISS Atlas of Extratropical Storm Tracks and the HPC weather maps and charts online resource. A 50–km buffer flanked each storm track and helped account for any uncharted errors in the original re–analysis procedures done by the GIS. Additionally, the 50–km buffer provided a construct for identifying the trajectory for each snowstorm within the 12–state study region, defined as North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. This study indicated a statistically insignificant southward shift of the median storm track in Time Period II. Of the 79 blizzards in Time Period I and the 66 blizzards in Time Period II, only 23 storms (6 in Time Period I and 17 in Time Period II) resulted in federal emergency and disaster declarations (FEDD). Logistic regression analyses of seven independent variables utilizing the Forward LR model failed to accurately predict when federal declarations occurred. In contrast, the total number of counties declared as FEDDs increased from 378 (Time Period I) to 973 (Time Period II), a statistically significant difference. The spatial distribution of declaration hazards (snow and ice) contributing to FEDDs changed between the two time periods, indicating a pattern not necessarily connected to the expected climatology of extreme Midwestern blizzards.”