October 31, 2018

On the Way to Platial Analysis: Can Geosocial Media Provide the Necessary Impetus? - Proceedings of the First Workshop on Platial Analysis (PLATIAL’18)

workshop PLATIAL

The proceedings of the PLATIAL’18 workshop (organized by R Westerholt, F-B Mocnik, and A Zipf) have been published:


The concept of “place” is about to become one of the major research themes in the discipline of geographical information science (GIScience), as well as in adjoining fields. Briefly put, while locations provide objective references (e.g., point coordinates), places are the units utilized by humans to approach the geographic world. The PLATIAL’18 workshop makes a significant contribution towards establishing a notion of place and is meant to be the starting point for a series of future events. What sets this workshop apart from others dealing with the concept of place is that the focus is decisively on its quantitative investigation and conceptual formalization.

The workshop accommodates a wide range of aspects all of which in one or another way are related to the two outlined core foci. This is well reflected by the various topical sessions into which the workshop has been organized. These include “Conceptual Anatomy of Place”, “Disclosing Places from Human Discourse”, “Bridging Space and Place”, and “Exploratory and Visual Analytics of Place”. The content sessions were concomitantly inspired by two keynote talks by Alexis Comber (University of Leeds) and Clare Davies (University of Winchester).

August 24, 2018

The Dimension of a Space Can Be Inferred From the Abstract Network Structure

network structure space Scientific Reports

Study shows that spatial reference can be structurally identified in a number of datasets

press release by Heidelberg University

Networks describe relations between objects. They show how objects relate to one another and which ones are mutually influential. In this context, how does space impact structure? Geoinformatics scientist Dr Franz-Benjamin Mocnik was particularly interested in answering this question. In his study, the Heidelberg University researcher demonstrated that the spatial reference can be identified in a number of datasets of different thematic networks. Thereby, the dimension of the space – that is, the spatial expanse in different directions – can be derived from the abstract structure of a network alone.

A brain network (left) and the bus network of Manhattan (right) share a common structure due to their relatedness to space, which is despite their very different appearance. Picture: Franz-Benjamin Mocnik (Brain network provided by M.P. van den Heuvel, bus network provided by the Metropolitan Transport Authority.)

August 16, 2018

Retrieving information about the contributors – An update of OSMPythonTools

OpenStreetMap python

The Python package OSMPythonTools has been updated for retrieving information about the contributors in OSM. OpenStreetMap (OSM) data is useful for many purposes, and different services to access the data exist. The Overpass API, Nominatim, and the OSM API are amongst them. The Python package OSMPythonTools provides easy access to these services, and allows, in addition, to send batch queries to these services, as well as an interface to mine and visualize the resulting data.

June 11, 2018

AGILE 2018

conference AGILE

The AGILE Conference 2018 takes place May 9-12. I presented some work:

Enjoy reading!

Agent-based simulation: Dissemination of folk music tunes

March 3, 2018

An implementation of the ISEA3H Discrete Global Grid System, published on GitHub

Leaflet ISEA3H Discrete Global Grid System OpenStreetMap data quality

Spatial information is often aggregated by grid systems before being displayed. The ISEA Aperture 3 Hexagon Discrete Global Grid System (ISEA3H DGGS) is such a grid that is very common among many researchers and practicioners. The grid partitions the surface of the Earth into hexagons. To be more precise, the surface of the Earth is mapped to an icosahedron, which is itself tesselated by a large number of hexagons and twelve pentagons. My article with a novel identifier scheme for the ISEA3H DGGS has been accepted by the journal Cartography and Geographic Information science. In addition, I have published a reference implementation for these identifiers, which also implements the ISEA3H DGGS, and a Leaflet library to visualize data aggregated by the grid.

February 1, 2018

VGI-ALIVE: AnaLysis, Integration, Vision, Engagement – workshop and special issue

VGI OpenStreetMap workshop special issue

The steady rise of data volume shared on already established and new Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and social media platforms calls for advanced analysis methods of user contribution patterns, leads to continued challenges in data fusion, and provides also new opportunities for rapid data analysis for event detection and VGI data quality assessment. Questions regarding the future of VGI and social media platforms include the prospect of continued user growth, engagement of new user groups, further expansion of VGI to educational activities, or closing data gaps in geographically underrepresented areas.

Organizers the workshop and editors of the special issue:

  • Peter Mooney
  • Alexander Zipf
  • Franz-Benjamin Mocnik
  • Jamal Jokar Arsanjani
  • Hartwig H Hochmair
  • Kiran Zahra

September 18, 2017

The OpenStreetMap folksonomy and its evolution

OpenStreetMap Volunteered Geographic Information folksonomy

Novel forms of geographical data collections have emerged in the last years, among them Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). Efforts to collaboratively create and maintain data has led to diverse and heterogeneous datasets, whose content can only be understood by the complex interactions that generated the data. Most important, the common scheme of data structures is understood in very diverse ways. Among the factors that influence the understanding of such common schemes are the cultural background, the context in which the environment is mapped, the purpose and the motivation behind the contribution, etc. Accordingly, fixed ontologies and taxonomies have turned into folksonomies, which are created by their use. A thorough understanding of folksonomies has, however, not been developed in literature, and the interpretation of VGI stays often unclear. In the article ‘The OpenStreetMap folksonomy and its evolution’, we examine at the example of OpenStreetMap how well the documentation of the folksonomy reflects the actual use of the folksonomy in the data, and how the folksonomy has evolved in the past. We even extrapolate and predict the future development of the folksonomy. The results render a more detailed and more extensive examination of the folksonomy possible, because they clarify in how far the examination of the documentation can replace the actual analysis of the much harder to grasp folksonomy.

September 7, 2017

COSIT 2017

conference COSIT

The COSIT 2017 (Conference on Spatial Information Theory) takes place in l’Aquila in Italy on September 4-8. The conference has been great, with a lot of personal discussion. I liked the following talks most:

Enjoy reading the papers!

July 5, 2017

OSMVis – New visualization

OpenStreetMap visualization

The project OSMvis aims at visualizing information related to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project. One of the key questions related to the data set is how elements have changed over time. Answers to this question may provide insights into the mapping behaviour of the users, possibly influenced by the community, as well as changes in the environment, changes and broadening of the focus of OSM, etc. This is why we have introduced a new visualization that let’s you examine changes of the spatial extent of single elements. We have, for the moment, chosen some interesting examples of elements, but it may become possible to even analyse arbitrary elements in the future.

Please feel free to examine the new visualization ‘History of an element’ as well as the entire OSMvis project.

May 11, 2017

AGILE 2017

conference AGILE

The AGILE Conference 2017 takes place May 9-12. I liked the following talks most:

In addition, I presented some work:

Enjoy reading!

April 10, 2017

Maps Telling Stories?

map story story focus

Telling stories has been important since many thousand years. Stories pass experience and knowledge over to next generations, they render traditions, stories even entertain, and they can even raise a smile. While maps are very efficient in conveying spatial knowledge, they usually do not entertain nor do they raise a smile. Together with David Fairbairn, I explore the possibilities of modifying the structure of a conventional map in order to make it more text alike, hoping for a more efficient way to render a story by maps. The presented paradigm of such modifications is called story focus. [link to publication]

February 7, 2017

How to retrieve OpenStreetMap data using Python? – Introducing OSMPythonTools

OpenStreetMap python

OpenStreetMap (OSM) data is useful for many purposes, and different services to access the data exist. The Overpass API, Nominatim, and the OSM API are amongst them. My recently released Python package OSMPythonTools provides easy access to these services, and allows, in addition, to send batch queries to these services, as well as an interface to mine and visualize the resulting data.

February 2, 2017

Information visualization and OpenStreetMap – Introducing OSMvis

OpenStreetMap visualization

The creation of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is often a community effort, without any central instance that would coordinate the creation of the data. A comprehension of this community effort of data creation and maintenance facilitates the understanding of VGI and its data quality, and such a comprehension is therefore of broad interest.

OSMvis is a collection of visualizations related to OpenStreetMap (OSM) – one of the most prominent examples of VGI. Please feel free to check out!