Tag Archives: opportunities

Measuring the Value and Impact of Open Data: Recruiting Doctoral Students

I’ve recently been successful with obtaining five years of funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation’s Early Researcher Award (ERA). This generous funding will allow me to measure the value and impact of open data initiatives, assessing how open data is accessed, used, and exploited. This research will directly impact how governments provide open data and how stakeholders such as private developers, other governments, non-profits, and citizens build applications and businesses models that rely on open data.

As part of this award, I am now currently recruiting for graduate students (PhD students in particular) that are interested in working with me on open data topics, with a focus on government provision, measuring value, and the development of metrics. If you are interested in these topics, please take a look at my comments for prospective students and the Faculty of Environment Dean’s Doctoral Initiative page for funding opportunities.

This work will build on my current open data work as a part of the SSHRC-funded Partnership Grant geothink.ca, led by Dr. Renee Sieber at McGill University.

Geopatial Mobility Lab – Launched with support from CFI and ORF

I’ve recently been awarded funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund. I’d like to thank both of these government funding agencies  for their support of a new research and training initiative that I call the ‘Geospatial Mobility Lab’. This effort is also co-sponsored through direct contributions of equipment and services from Esri Canada and Dell Computer.

I am actively recruiting students at the Masters and PhD levels to participate in research using this infrastructure. If you are interested, please read this and get in touch with me.

The Geospatial Mobility Lab in brief:

The widespread adoption of Internet-connected mobile devices has signaled a shift in the way that geographic information is both delivered and gathered. No longer tethered to desks, terminals, and Wi-Fi networks, location-based applications are now a key part of the mobile computing experience, providing a conduit for communication with space and place as a permanent backdrop. This project will develop a first-of-its kind testbed, the Geospatial Mobility Lab, an integrated system of mobile devices and analytic infrastructure, for the systematic evaluation of geospatial information and mobile technology. The Geospatial Mobility Lab will generate benefits for Canada and Canadians in three areas: the generation of direct economic benefits through software and use case developments conducted in partnership with private companies; training benefits through creating employees with marketable skills in software design, deployment, and evaluation; and generate social benefits in understanding the affordances and constraints of mobile device use on individual interactions, communications, and spatial behaviour. Considering the widespread adoption of mobile devices within society and the continued growth of this area of the information technology sector, research findings will impact many of the millions of Canadian citizens who use mobile devices on a daily basis.

See the official funding announcement here.

Graduate Student Opportunities

I am currently recruiting graduate students to start in September 2014. I place a priority on graduate student supervision and try to support all my students as best I can, through providing timely feedback on written work, facilitating networking within academia and industry, and supporting student travel to conferences when possible. The position outlines and instructions are listed below. Please contact me for more details.

1. Modeling the sustainability of the Ontario ski industry (Masters)

Project Description: The tourism sector is considered to be one of the least prepared for climate change. With its highly visible impacts from weather variability, the multi-billion dollar ski industry has been repeatedly identified as vulnerable to ongoing and future climate change. Media in Europe, the US, Canada, and elsewhere have declared that climate change could ‘wipe out’ large portions of the ski industry, with severe economic impacts for many rural economies, vacation property real-estate value, sports participation, and regional cultural loss. The research will build on existing collaborations with the tourism sector to develop a new integrated systems model of the Ontario ski marketplace, called SkiSim3, that is capable of assessing the simultaneous impact of climate change on ski operators and skier responses to changes in ski conditions and the seasonal availability of ski areas. This research will assist ski businesses to understand their relative climate risk, and develop proactive adaptation strategies.

This project is funded through a SSHRC research grant to Dr. Daniel Scott and Dr. Peter Johnson (both Geography and Environmental Management).

Qualifications: Prospective candidates should have an honours undergraduate degree in Geography, Geomatics, or strongly related discipline, with a background in climate change adaptation and strong quantitative skills, for example, experience with GIS or statistical modeling. Exposure to and interest in computational approaches, such as agent-based modeling, is highly desired. Preference is given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Start Date: September 2014

Contact: Please email Dr. Peter Johnson (peter.johnson@uwaterloo.ca), with a current CV, unofficial transcript, and a statement of interest.

2. Tools and methods for facilitating citizen input to government spatial data (Masters)

Project Description: As mobile devices become ubiquitous, there are many resulting opportunities for the creative engagement of individuals as contributors of location-based information. The generation of volunteered geographic information (VGI) has been widely explored in a number of contexts, yet many questions remain as to how VGI can be integrated into formal governance and decision-making channels. This research project asks questions about how mobile device technology can be used to allow citizens to contribute to update and edit official digital maps of their jurisdictions of residence and how the asserted information can be incorporated into an authoritative and current map product.

This project is funded through a SSHRC research grant to Dr. Peter Johnson and Dr. Rob Feick (School of Planning). The successful candidate will join a Canada-wide team of researchers and industry partners (geothink.ca), with resulting opportunities for networking, collaboration, and additional funding for conferences, workshops, and travel.

Qualifications: Prospective candidates should have an honours undergraduate degree in Geography, Geomatics, or strongly related discipline. Experience in programming (Java, Python, Javascript) and familiarity with developing for mobile devices is highly desired. Preference is given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Start Date: September 2014

Contact: Please email Dr. Peter Johnson (peter.johnson@uwaterloo.ca), with a current CV, unofficial transcript, and a statement of interest.

3. Mobile citizenship (PhD, Postdoc)

Project Description: As mobile devices take an increasingly central role in our daily activities, they become mediators of our interactions with each other, the environment, businesses, and institutions. This research area investigates the rapidly emerging development of a location-enabled society, from technical, social, and political perspectives. Multiple directions are possible within this broad area, including (but not limited to):

–    citizen/government interactions mediated by mobile devices
–    the impact of tracking technologies on individual or group use of space
–    integration of crowdsourced/volunteered data into decision-making
–    critical inquiry into mobile device use and impact on society both broadly and in specific areas (health, privacy, security, activism…).

This project description is intentionally left open-ended. If you have a suitable background and are interested in this area of research, I am eager to co-develop ideas with you.

This project is funded through a SSHRC research grant to Dr. Peter Johnson (Geography and Environmental Management). The successful candidate will join a Canada-wide team of researchers and industry partners (geothink.ca), with resulting opportunities for networking, collaboration, and additional funding for conferences, workshops, and travel.

Qualifications: Prospective candidates should have an appropriate academic qualification for the given level (phd, postdoc). Creativity and originality are strongly valued. Preference is given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Start Date: September 2014

Contact: Please email Dr. Peter Johnson (peter.johnson@uwaterloo.ca), with a current CV, unofficial transcript, and a detailed statement of interest.

4. Open Data as a contributor to Open Government (Masters or PhD)

Project Description: Governments across Canada are taking measures to improve transparency and efficiency in their activities and services. A key component of this trend are new data distribution protocols, often called “open data” initiatives. Generally, open data must be downloadable by users free of charge, contain contents that can be viewed, edited and combined with other data (mashable), and be provided under a non-restrictive license. A research gap exists in understanding the value and impact of these open data initiatives. Current perspectives on the value of open data are often anecdotal, or reflect only the potential commercialization of software applications developed that use open data. The objectives of this research are to; 1) measure the value of open data as reported by diverse user communities (government, non-profit, community organizations, private developers); and 2) develop a set of quantitative metrics to guide the evaluation of open data strategies at all levels of government.

This project is funded through a SSHRC research grant to Dr. Peter Johnson (Geography and Environmental Management). The successful candidate will join a Canada-wide team of researchers and industry partners (geothink.ca), with resulting opportunities for networking, collaboration, and additional funding for conferences, workshops, and travel.

Qualifications: Prospective candidates should have an appropriate degree (bachelors or masters) in Geography, Geomatics, or strongly related discipline. Experience in qualitative research (interviews, focus groups) and familiarity with open data and Canadian municipal government structure is highly desired. Preference is given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Start Date: September 2014

Contact: Please email Dr. Peter Johnson (peter.johnson@uwaterloo.ca), with a current CV, unofficial transcript, and a statement of interest.