Category Archives: Conferences

2017 ESRI User Conference and The Cost(s) of Geospatial Open Data

I had the amazing opportunity recently to attend the 2017 ESRI User Conference in San Diego, California. The ESRI ‘UC’ as it’s known is an annual event that showcases what’s new and hot in the ESRI GIS world, and provides a chance for over 16,000 GIS and map nerds to get together, learn from each other, and generally celebrate everything geospatial.

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What’s your super power?

I was attending the UC with the support of the ESRI Canada Centres of Excellence program (of which UW is a participant), and to present a co-authored work for a special issue of Transactions in GIS. The paper I presented, co-authored with Renee Sieber, Teressa Scassa, Monica Stephens, and Pamela Robinson, is titled ‘The Cost(s) of Geospatial Open Data”, and is available open access from the publisher site. The SSHRC Partnership Grant Geothink.ca has a lovely writeup of the paper and some thoughts of mine about our motivations for writing it. I had some supportive and thought-provoking comments during and after the presentation as part of the Frontiers in GIScience session organized by Dr. Michael Gould from ESRI.

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Dark conference room, but sunny outside

I also had the chance to take part in many of the UC events, including the vendor expo, map gallery, Canada night social and other events. One thing I couldn’t help noticing was the shout-out to Roger Tomlinson, the ‘father of GIS’, on this display of the ESRI press 20th anniversary. I had the pleasure a number of years ago to meet Dr. Tomlinson at a reception after his awarding of an honorary degree at McGill, and the naming of Dr. Renee Sieber’s research lab in his honour.

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Roger Tomlinson on ESRI Press 20th anniversary display

Lastly, no trip to California would be complete without some delicious fish tacos beside the water. Here was one particularly notable dinner at the Carnitas Snack Shack on the San Diego harbourfront. Great tacos and great Alpine Duet IPA. And yes, that 99/100 rating on Ratebeer.com is well-earned!

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Volunteered Drone Imagery: Challenges and constraints to the development of an open shared image repository

I recently had the pleasure of working on a new project called “Volunteered Drone Imagery: Challenges and constraints to the development of an open shared image repository”, with Dr. Britta Ricker, University of Washington-Tacoma, and Sara Harrison, a recently-graduated MES student from Waterloo.

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OpenAerialMap Data Browsing Interface

We were inspired by the overall concept of OpenStreetMap, a user-generated map of the world, and wanted to think about how the same concept – volunteered geographic information, could be applied to the explosion of imagery data now being made available through the use of recreational drones. There is an emerging ecosystem of technologies and systems to support not only the creation of micro-level imagery, but to overcome the daunting task of sharing this information. We looked to the OpenAerialMap project as an example of this. Drawing on technology adoption constraints literature, we consider the main challenges to creating this open shared image repository (emphasis on open here – there are a number of private-sector options that do not allow imagery to be shared or re-purposed).

Together, we wrote a peer-reviewed paper that was accepted at the long-running and highly-competitive Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences (HICSS-50) for 2017. Dr. Ricker was happy to present this on our behalf, and this paper will serve as a jumping off point for further research into how volunteered imagery sources can be both contributed and shared more easily. This paper is available open access through the University of Hawaii at Manoa repository.

Group Members at AAG 2016: San Francisco

Looking forward to some sun (or fog) in California! Myself and two group members, Sara Harrison and Qing Lu are off to present at the Association of American Geographers annual conference in San Francisco. I’ve pasted the links to sessions below. Also check out other Geothink.ca presenters as well. Hope to see you there!

The Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers will be in San Francisco, CA from March 29 to April 2.

Sara Harrison

Crowdsourcing in Emergency Management: A comparative analysis of crowdsourcing adoption by governments in the United States and Canada

 

Qing Lu 

Potential and challenges of mobile technologies in the public sector: a case study of 311 requests in Edmonton, Canada

 

Peter Johnson

Reflecting on the Success of Open Data: How Municipal Governments Evaluate Open Data Programs

 

 

The Canadian Water Network conference: “from knowledge to action”

This post is by PhD student Simone Philpot on her recent experience attending the Canadian Water Network Conference 2015.

When it comes to managing water resources, there is no shortage of problems. The consequences impact security, ecological health, environmental justice, and economic development. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Connecting Water Resources conference hosted by the Canadian Water Network. The 2015 theme, ‘from Knowledge to Action’ stressed the need to address a gap between what we know about sustainable and equitable water systems and our capacity to implement solutions.

When it came to implementation, the speakers uniformly put people, communities, cooperation, and governance front and center of the discussion. Former Premiere Bob Rae urged Canadians to critically examine assumptions of water security. More than 100 communities endure boil-water advisories in Canada. These advisories disproportionately impact remote areas, creating a gap between the water security experiences of different communities. Rae tasked Canadians to abandon ‘us and them’ mentalities and to address water security as a national problem. Patricia Mulroy gave a nod to water competition anxieties, opening her talk with “don’t worry, I didn’t come with any straws”. As the former director of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Mulroy was responsible for securing water to support growing communities in a desert regime relying on a contested and stressed water source. Mulroy emphasized that all communities are linked to a common water destiny – or else, she says, “We will all fail together”. Margaret Catley-Carlson illustrated the centrality of water by playing off of the question “Is it a water issue?” Answering “yes of course it is” and -No “when water goes by your house and you can’t drink it, that’s not a water issue, that’s an exclusion issue”. Afternoon activities consisted of smaller group sessions. I attended Blue Cities: moving to the systems we need. A variety of topics relevant to municipal water managers were presented. Some important themes that surfaced were regulatory reform in the water sector, a willingness to look outward for solutions, and the importance of citizen engagement. These perspectives indicate a strong and growing role for the social sciences in water resources management.

Finally, there were the conversations that occurred in between events. I had the opportunity to hear about initiatives that aim to couple research and action in innovative ways. Of particular interest are the Ryerson Urban Water1 multidisciplinary collective in Toronto, Canada, and the Environmental CrossRoads Initiative2, in the City University of New York (CUNY), US. I have provided links below if you wish to learn more about these groups. At CWR-2015 lively discussions occurred across disciplinary and professional boundaries, without any sign of struggle. It can be done. I look forward to picking up on many of the conversations that started at the conference, and I look forward to the next Canadian Water Network event.

*The speakers are too numerous to discuss in this post, and although I identified a few themes and speakers, I have left out many excellent participants. For more information on the speakers and the conference, see the Canadian Water Network website3, listed below.

1Ryerson Urban Water http://ryerson.ca/water/

2Environmenta Crossroads Initiative http://rose.ccny.cuny.edu/~darlene/CrossRoads/about.html

Group Members at the 2015 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Chicago – April 20-25th

The AAG is always a great event, an opportunity to see the leading edge of geographic research, reconnect with colleagues, and of course, to meet new people while enjoying some great American cities. This year, the AAG returns to Chicago at the end of April – hopefully with some warm spring weather (we were spoiled by the AAG in Tampa last year). For this 2015 edition, myself and Andrea Minano will be presenting. Here are the sessions:

Peter Johnson

3115 Civic technology: governance, equity and inclusion considerations
is scheduled on Thursday, 4/23/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Columbus EF, Hyatt, East Tower, Gold Level

4544 Challenges and Constraints to Municipal Government Adoption of OpenStreetMap
is part of the Paper Session:
OpenStreetMap Studies 2
scheduled on Friday, 4/24/2015 at 15:20 PM.

Andrea Minano

3253 Geoweb Tools for Climate Change Adaptation: A Case Study in Nova Scotia’s South Shore
is part of the Paper Session:
Citizen Science and Geoweb
scheduled on Thursday, 4/23/2015 at 10:00 AM.

You can also check out all the University of Waterloo attendees by searching by affiliation here. See you in Chicago!

Chicago's Millennium Park
Chicago’s Millennium Park

Escape the winter blahs in sunny Tampa: Looking forwards to the AAG meeting

Yes indeed, after one of the longest, snowiest winters in recent memory, I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming Association of American Geographers meeting in sunny Tampa, Florida. I’m going to be presenting in two venues, first the alt.conference on Big Data where I will be discussing (quickly – like lightning) different models of government adoption of crowdsourced data. Second, I’m doing a more conventional presentation on the challenges of jurisdictionality in government adoption of the Geoweb. See a trend here? As governments catch up to an increasingly plugged-in population, we need to collectively investigate how and if government can interact with citizens through digital methods. Lots of interest here, but it certainly remains to be seen how government can both capitalize and will be affected by digital communications.

One other session that I can’t wait for is the return of the ‘tribes’ discussion (sounds like a sequel, indeed!). I missed the original session a few years back, so I’m eager to see where we are at now – are there really distinct ‘tribes’, and if so, what does this mean for research, teaching, industry, and especially how our students identify with whatever we are teaching them (GIScience, cartography, geomatics, ?). Should be interesting!

See you in Tampa,

Volunteered Geographic Information special session at CAG 2012

For anyone heading to the 2012 Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Waterloo (May 28 – June 2), I am co-hosting (with Dr. Rob Feick) two sessions on VGI and GIScience 2.0. The session are called “TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE AND CITIZENS: GIScience 2.0 and the role of volunteered geographic information”. The first session is from 1:30-3:00 on Wednesday May 30th, and the second is from 3:30 – 5:00 on the same day. Both sessions are being held in the Peters building, room 1013, on Laurier University campus. Here is a list of abstracts being presented:

Session One

Wednesday 1:30 to 3:00, Peters 1013

1. Shayne Wright, University of British Columbia Okanagan, “Access, Engagement and Change: Characteristics for Indentifying Community Participation on the Geospatial Web.”

2. Michael G. Leahy, ESRi Canada, “The influence of Participation Format on VGI Creation and Collaboration in a PPGIS.”

3. Jonathan Cinnamon, Simon Fraser University, “Volunteered Geographic Information and the data- divide.”

4. Michael Martin, University of British Columbia, “Online Volunteerism, Geographers and the Global South: Recognizing Opportunity and Reality with Mapping across Borders.”

Session Two

5. Samantha Brennan, University of British Columbia Okanagan, “Igniting Interest in Online Participatory Mapping: VGI and Forest Fire Impacts.”

6. Richard Kelly, University of Waterloo, “The Snowtweets Project: crowdsourcing snow information using social media.”

7. Peter A. Johnson, McGill University, “How Sustainable is the Geoweb?”

Hope to see you there!