Monday, May 30, 2011

Bernhard Vockner: EDC Outstanding Student of the Year

As an ESRI Development Center, the University of Salzburg Center for Geoinformatics -Z_GIS- is proud to announce this year's award for 'Outstanding Student of the Year' going to
Bernhard VOCKNER
for his MSc thesis in Applied Geoinformatics titled
Application development for mobile environmental data acquisition – a prototype for Berchtesgaden National Park

In cooperation with Berchtesgaden National Park and the Research Studio iSPACE Bernhard Vockner developed a solution for simple, workflow-centric field data acquisition with mobile devices on ArcGIS Mobile. Decisive for this choice was the enhanced performance of Smartphones and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), facilitating advanced mobile applications for environmental data acquisition. With their multitude of functions, many currently available products are tailored for expert users. However, numerous potential end users are domain experts having little or no prior GIS-knowledge.

Based on the principle that ‘GIS must be simple to use’, a mobile context-sensitive prototype application was developed. Above all, the application features intuitive simplicity of operations adapted to the key requirement of automated recording of specific spatial information by domain experts (e.g. zoologists). Thus, technical functions on the client side focus clearly on users’ key requirements. A requirements analysis demonstrated that in this case, point or line feature collection via GPS, intuitive attribute data input and photographic documentation for each record were most frequently requested by the target group and therefore implemented in the mobile application. To validate the usability of the application, a usability testing procedure was carried out.

For technical realization of the requirements profile, i.e. easy recording or updating of field data, implementation with ArcGIS server and ArcGIS Mobile (terminals with Windows Mobile) was used. A major disadvantage of this choice of technology is that the interaction design (such as operation and optics) of Windows Mobile Terminals barely meets existing requirements. Against this backdrop a user interface was developed specifically to combine the state-of-the-art interaction design of modern mobile phones with the requirements profile of a mobile GI-workplace in a hand-held device.

Additionally, quality assured integration into the Berchtesgaden National Park Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) was ensured through automated client-server-synchronization over GPRS/UMTS in a service oriented environment. As a practical outcome, a mobile prototype application to record features with GPS, enter attribute data and provide photographic documentation which can be handled by users with little or no previous GIS-knowledge was delivered for extended field testing

Bernhard Vockner’s thesis was submitted in 2010 and graded as ‘excellent’.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tempus Geoinformatics: successful Project Management meeting in Almaty

Embedded within a full week of teacher training and the annual GIS-in-Central-Asia conference (GISCA 2011), partners in the Tempus project "Geoinformatics: Managing Energy, Resources, Environment - GEM" met for a key management meeting at the Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi in Almaty.

The seven Central Asian partner universities together with their European counterparts from Hungary, Netherlands and Austria decided on a future international curriculum framework which will for the basis for implementing Master's level study programmes across Central Asia. After national level accreditation it is expected that two universities -KSUCTA in Bishkek and KazNU in Almaty- will launch their programmes already in the fall of 2011, with other institutions following at a later date.

The Kazakh National Tempus Office Coordinator, Ms Shaizada Tasbulatova highlighted during her GISCA opening remarks the importance of technical qualifications and the early adoption of Bologna frameworks in Kazakhstan, as well as the substantial challenges faced by the implementation of new study programmes. All meeting participants returned with a strong sense of success and progress, while acknowledging the need for hard work over the coming months to fully reach the project's objectives.

Monday, May 23, 2011

„Healthy futures“ in Africa - New Research Project

In a new EC FP7 research project the Centre for Geoinformatics will work together with health, environment, socio-economic, and disease modelling experts on a project that will study the impact and concern of climatic and environmental changes on health in Africa.

HEALTHY FUTURES aims to respond to this concern through construction of a disease risk mapping system for three water-related, high-impact vector-borne diseases (malaria, Rift Valley fever and schistosomiasis) in Africa, taking into account environmental/climatic trends and changes in socio-economic conditions to predict future risk.

Z_GIS will be involved in the risk/vulnerability modelling, development of land use and socio-economic scenarios, adaptation tools, stakeholder dialogue and will work together with its partner organisation CIG-NUR in Rwanda.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Editorial board membership

Gilbert Ahamer, senior scientist at ÖAW-GIScience, has been elected as Editorial board member to "Water, Air, & Soil Pollution", an International Journal of Environmental Pollution with an impact factor of 1.66, published by Springer.