Globally engaged digital research
Co-developing ethical guidelines and envisioning new practices
Globally, the steady increase in use of digital tools is resulting in new forms of geographic data which frequently emerges in patterns aligned with existing inequalities within societies and between countries. This raises concerns about uneven visibility and invisibility. Another concern is that for those included in digital data traces, the technical feasibility of data gathering is outpacing the existing legal and ethical frameworks. There is a need to develop new ethical guidelines for research, at speed, across disciplines and including stakeholders from both within and beyond academia. This talk reflects on the lessons learned from the process, undertaken recently by researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Information and Communication for Development (ICT4D)/Digital Development, to collaboratively agree updated guidelines for digital research. This included how to collect, manage, analyse and share small and big digital data in and across different cultural contexts. The participatory #ICTDEthics process aimed to build awareness of the issues and joint ownership of the outcome. GIScience research can greatly contribute to addressing global challenges including disaster response, humanitarian aid, global health, crime reduction, improved food security and environmental protection. Such challenge-led interdisciplinary collaborations will require co-developing ethical guidelines and sustainable partnerships across cultures.
Dorothea Kleine is Professorial Research Fellow at the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, and leads the Digital Technologies, Data and Innovation Research Theme at the Sheffield Institute for International Development. She is the Chair of the Digital Geographies Working Group of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers. She holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and before joining Sheffield, she worked at Cambridge, Bonn and Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research investigates sustainable human development, global justice, and the role of digital technologies in making progress towards these aims. Dorothea Kleine has published widely on both the potential and the ethical challenges of the use of ICTs in human development in both the global South and North, focusing in particular on the perspective, agency and creativity of the more marginalised, including rural micro-entrepreneurs, women, and youth from favelas (“slums”). She is also well-known internationally for her theoretical work, proposing the choice framework to apply the capabilities approach to digital development, as laid out in ‘Technologies of Choice’ (MIT Press). Much of her work is participatory and co-produced with community organisations and other non-academic stakeholders.
Why Open Data are not Enough
Open data have provided the geographic data scientist with an array of new opportunities to study the form and function of cities in a transparent and reproducible manner. Although the benefits to open science are well rehearsed, there are some significant constraints that relate to the permanence of existing open data licenses, and within the context of appropriate disclosure control or commercial sensitivity, the scope and scale of what data can be released. This talk will provide an overview of some of these issues, and present progress made within the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre towards infrastructure that aims to mitigate such constraints. The talk is illustrated through research outputs of the Geographic Data Science lab at the University of Liverpool.
Alex Singleton is Professor of Geographic Information Science at the University of Liverpool, where he entered as a lecturer in 2010. He holds a BSc (Hons) Geography from the University of Manchester and a PhD from University College London. To date, his research income totals around £15m, with two career highlights including the ESRC funded Consumer Data Research Centre and the recently awarded ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training in New Forms of Data. Alex’s research is embedded within the Geographic Data Science Lab and concerns various aspects of urban analytics. In particular, his work has extended a tradition of area classification within Geography where he has developed an empirically informed critique of the ways in which geodemographic methods can be refined for effective yet ethical use in public resource allocation applications. He recently co-authored the book ‘Urban Analytics’ (Sage).
Rethink GIS Research
Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoes
From the very beginning, GIS (or GIScience) research has been able to leverage exciting advances and opportunities in other fields. On the one hand, GIS research addresses distinct characteristics of spatial data and how spatiality may influence the entire process of geographic knowledge production. On the other hand, GIS research may appear modish with titles that amend geo, spatial, or geospatial to whatever buzzword of the day. When considering both the uniqueness and trendiness of GIS research, one would ask whether the uniqueness remains prominent in the rapid shifts of fashionable GIS topics, or whether the trendy shifts lead to shallow, inconsequential findings. The premise here is that the time-honored British rhyme: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoes, provides a good guideline to develop healthy GIS research: maintain continuity to the established knowledge, offer new ideas and methods, leverage concepts and innovations from other disciplines, advance the core GIS knowledge, and a wish for broad impacts from our research. In this talk, we will discuss the old, the new, the borrowed, the blue, and the grand wishes in GIS research and the promises of GIS research in the coming new era.
May Yuan received all her degrees in Geography: B.S. 1987 from National Taiwan University and M.S. 1992 and PhD 1994 from State University of New York at Buffalo. She is Ashbel Smith Professor of Geospatial Information Sciences and GIS PhD director in the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. Before she joined UT-Dallas in August 2014, she was Brandt Professor and Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor and Director of Center for Spatial Analysis at the University of Oklahoma (1994-2014). Currently, she is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Geographical Information Science and Vice President of US Cartography and Geographic Information Society. In addition, she serves on the US NOAA Environmental Information Services Working Group and US National Geospatial Advisory Committee. Her research interest expands upon space-time representation and analytics to understanding geographic dynamics. Over the years, she has been working to develop new approaches to represent geographic processes and events in GIS databases to support space-time query, analytics, and knowledge discovery. Her research has been supported by NSF, NASA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, National Institute of Standards and Technology and state government agencies in the U.S.A. She recently founded the Geospatial Analytics and Innovative Applications (GAIA) Lab at UT-Dallas. She and her students are exploring ways to capture and apply the concepts of place for space-time representation and analysis.
Operationalising Volunteered Geographic Information
From Analytics to Improvement and Application
Much research has been conducted to better understand the issues with VGI datasets that have now been available for several years as a relatively new kind of spatial data set.For example topics included quality, fitness for purpose, bias or usability among others. A range of methods has been developed to deal with the special characteristics of data produced by volunteers in a little formalised way when analysing it. Many empirical studies have shed some light on the status and the development of those data sources in specific times and regions. Still many questions remain. Because of the high dynamics of the data the half-life of empirical insights is relatively short and because of the heterogeneity very regional studies often are of limited meaningfulness for another context. Influences like culture, language or other geographic aspects need to be examined in more detail and a question that continues to being asked by many practitioners and researchers is: can I use this data for application A or B in region X or Y? We develop an analytics services framework that shall help to answer such kind of questions. In the talk I will present some examples of such analytics of VGI data sets like OSM and social media and some first attempts to develop methods to improve those where possible. This shall finally allow to couple these analytics with real world applications.
Alexander Zipf is chair of GIScience (Geoinformatics) at Heidelberg University (Department of Geography) since late 2009. He is member of the Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR), the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage and founding member of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE). From 2012-2014 he was Managing Director of the Department of Geography, Heidelberg University. In 2011-2012 he acted as Vice Dean of the Faculty for Chemistry and Geosciences, Heidelberg University. Since 2012 he is speaker of the graduate school CrowdAnalyser – Spatio-temporal Analysis of User-generated Content. He is also member of the editorial board of several further journals and organized a set of conferences and workshops. 2012-2015 he was regional editor of the ISI Journal Transactions in GIS (Wiley). Since 2017 he is Associate Editor of the Open Access Journal Geo-Spatial Information Science (GSIS) published by Taylor & Francis. Before coming to Heidelberg he led the Chair of Cartography at Bonn University and earlier was Professor for Applied Computer Science and Geoinformatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany. He has a background in Mathematics and Geography from Heidelberg University and finished his PhD at the European Media Laboratory EML in Heidelberg where he was the first PhD student. There he also conducted further research as a PostDoc for 3 years.