Home > UWB Innovation Forum > Innovation Forum Recaps: Innovative Approaches to Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Innovation Forum Recaps: Innovative Approaches to Geographic Information Science (GIS)

March 9, 2012

TIC Talk: Innovative Approaches to Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Written by Laura Mansfield

Jin-Kyu Jung
Santiago Lopez

Jung and Lopez are both assistant professors in the UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

When talking about geographic information science, Jung prefers the abbreviation “GISci” to communicate the philosophy that GIS is “not just a tool, but a science.” Jung said GIS “helps us understand the procession of place. We are living in a completely new era. We have unprecedented power to map anything, anytime. What does that mean?”

Jung’s work focuses on qualitative GIS, which he said provides a new way to collect and analyze information. To illustrate the power of GIS, he described a research project he is working on that explores how children perceive their community. Jung and his colleagues interviewed children about the places they visit in their community and then used GIS technology to show the community on a visual basis.

“When you show the community on a visual basis, it provides different truths about that neighborhood. It also makes it possible to visualize barriers and opportunities.” Jung said. As he compared children who live in cities to children who live in suburbs, it became apparent that children in in the city have a smaller “activity space” than those in the suburbs. Jung defined “activity space” by the amount of space children have to move and walk around.

The SENSEable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is using GIS technology in Rome, Italy. To visit that site, go to : http://senseable.mit.edu/realtimerome/.

Santiago Lopez: “GIS – A spatial approach to addressing global environmental change”

Lopez said he uses GIS “to help ask important questions about the space we live in, and to visualize that information.” There is an unprecedented amount of data being created,” he said. “How do we incorporate all the information to create knowledge?” Specifically, he is looking at changes in the landscape and what factors triggered those landscape changes. There is an unprecedented amount of data being created,” he said. “How do we incorporate all the information to create knowledge?”

Lopez described his research project which involves visualizing changes in physical systems in the tropical Andes region. “The human aspect of climate change in tropical Andes is larger than in Antarctica,” he said. “By the end of the 21st century, the region could experience a change in temperature from 4.5 to 5 degrees. The effects include the shifting of grasslands and recession of mountain glaciers.” Glaciers are important to regulate climate and to provide water to human populations, he noted.

Lopez uses thematic mapping to illustrate his data. “With thematic mapping you can start asking questions and visualize changes,” He said. “GIS allows accurate longitudinal characterizations of landscapes. We need to find innovative ways to find linkages between spatial data and human behavior.” Ultimately, he hopes to determine the key factors to environmental change.

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