Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Successful PhD defense of Pablo Cabrera-Barona within the Doctoral College "GIScience"

Pablo Cabrera-Barona, PhD researcher at Z_GIS successfully defended his PhD Thesis “A Multidisciplinary Spatial Framework for Health Inequalities Analysis with Emphasis on Deprivation and Healthcare Accessibility”.

In his research, Pablo focused on the analysis of deprivation and healthcare accessibility, understanding them as integral concepts that incorporate objective and subjective measures, the integration of which enables the representation of multidimensional health-related phenomena. Pablo provided a multidisciplinary spatial framework that uses different mixed-methods approaches to understand health inequalities.

The results showed that the created deprivation indices facilitate the identification of social disadvantages and can support the explanation of health outcomes. It was also shown that the combination of objective measures and perceptions can represent inequalities of multidimensional healthcare accessibility and healthcare satisfaction and that these multidimensional measures can be explained by social factors of human health-related behavior. It could also be demonstrated that area-level features of deprivation and spatial accessibility to healthcare influence individual-level healthcare satisfaction.

Around 30 attendees from 14 different nations listened to Pablo’s impressive presentation which was followed by a fruitful discussion between the evaluators, Dr. Alexis Comber from the University of Leeds and Dr. Stefan Lang from Z_GIS. Dr. Thomas Blaschke as the main supervisor acted as the chair.

We wish Pablo all the best for his future endeavors and career!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Z_GIS lädt gemeinsam mit Ärzte ohne Grenzen (MSF) und dem Österreichischen Roten Kreuz  zu einem Mapathon in Salzburg ein.

Mapathons sind eingebettet in das Missing Maps Projekt von MSF, dem Roten Kreuz und dem Humanitären Open Street Map Team (HOT OSM) und bieten engagierten Freiwilligen überall auf der Welt eine Plattform, humanitäre Hilfe mit online mapping in Krisenregionen zu unterstützen. Geografische Details, wie Dörfer, Straßen und Infrastruktur werden basierend auf Satellitenbildaufnahmen interpretiert und kartiert, und bieten somit für die Arbeit von Hilfsorganisationen eine wichtige Informationsgrundlage, damit diese im Krisenfall schneller und gezielter reagieren können. Bei diesem Mapathon, der zum ersten Mal im Rahmen der AGIT in Salzburg stattfindet, wird ein Gebiet bearbeitet, das aktuell von Naturkatastrophen, Krankheiten oder Konflikten betroffen ist und in dem sowohl MSF wie auch das Österreichische Rote Kreuz aktive Hilfe leisten.

Wer kann mitmachen?
Jede/r kann mitmachen, egal ob Anfänger/in oder erfahrene Mapper. Mitzubringen ist lediglich ein eigener Laptop (inkl. Maus).

Wann & wo findet der Mapathon statt?
Dienstag,  4. Juli 2017
17 bis 19 Uhr
im Rahmen der AGIT / GI-FORUM 

Achtung: für die Teilnahme am Mapathon muss keine Konferenzgebühr bezahlt werden! Es genügt eine Registrierung im AGIT Tagungsbüro.

Universität Salzburg, Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Dekanatssaal, 1.Stock
Hellbrunnerstrasse 34
5020 Salzburg

Lorenz Wendt
Barbara Riedler

Project X3D4Pop kicked off: Population estimation in urban areas from experimental 3D remote sensing data

How many people live in a city? This seemingly simple question very often arises in the daily work of MSF (Doctors without Borders) or SOS Children’s Villages. Activities like a vaccination campaign or the preparation for natural disasters require up-to-date population figures. With more and more people moving into cities, the sprawling urban areas move more and more into the focus of aid and relief organisations.

Population numbers can be estimated from the number of buildings mapped in remote sensing data, but in urban areas, 3D data is required to account for the building heights. The research project X3D4Pop, which was kicked off in Salzburg in May, aims at exploring the potential of 3D data derived from satellite image pairs initially not acquired for stereo data production, as dedicated stereo image pairs are often missing. Can image pairs from different satellites, acquired at different times, be used to derive building heights?

X3D4Pop brings together experts in photogrammetry from the German Aerospace Center DLR and dasymetric mapping from the Austrian Institute of Technology AIT and the Swiss UNEP/GRID-Geneva, and is led by Z_GIS to further enlarge the portfolio of remote sensing services for humanitarian organisations. X3D4Pop is funded by the Austrian FFG, the Swiss Space Office SSO, and the DLR.

Contact: Lorenz Wendt

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Z_GIS project MorphoSAT: Automated geomorphological mapping based on satellite data

The MorphoSAT project started at the beginning of May and is funded for a total lifetime of 24 months by the FFG within the ASAP 13 programme.
The main objective of the project team is to implement, test and validate an innovative system for operational production of objective GIS-ready, semantically-rich geomorphological maps/information. Therefore recent (near-)global consistent satellite data and products (WorldDEM, ERS-2/ENVISAT, Sentinel-2, Copernicus land services, etc.) as well as LiDAR data will be exploited and integrated. A maximized integration of experts and potential customers is envisaged in the specification and validation phases of the project.

Contact: Sebastian d’Oleire-Oltmanns

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Land@Slide team received valuable user feedback on web service

A user/validation workshop, organised by the Land@Slide project team, was successfully held at our department on May 24. The workshop aimed to bring together experts from regional and national authorities from Austria and Germany such as the Geological Survey of Austria (GBA), the Austrian Service for Torrent
and Avalanche Control (WLV) or the Bavarian Environment Agency (LfU). The experts require information on landslides for rapid mapping, documentation and monitoring purposes for managing related damages and risks.

A major objective of the workshop was to present, demonstrate and evaluate the pre-operational landslide platform and web mapping service which is developed within the Land@Slide project. The users had the opportunity to test the web service during interactive sessions. Their provided feedback on its functionality, usability and performance is of high value for improving the service. Participants also had a fruitful discussion on the potential of Earth Observation data and methods for landslide mapping. The workshop concluded with an investigation of the opportunities for developing the project outcome into an operational landslide web service.

More information

Contact: Daniel Hölbling

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Copernicus Academy and Copernicus Relays networks: Z_GIS joining launch event and first annual General Assembly

On behalf of Z_GIS, Peter Zeil took part at the official launch ceremony of the Copernicus Relays and Academy networks at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels on June 6.
He talked about Z_GIS´experience as founder and member of the Copernicus Academy and provided insights to the interaction with the Copernicus Relays members. Just a few weeks ago he had been to Namibia to support the Namibian Copernicus Relay in conducting a Copernicus Info Day.

The "Copernicus Goes Local - Implementing the Space Strategy for Europe" event gathered more than 300 Earth Observation actors and industry representatives from across Europe. The Copernicus Relays and Academy networks had been created by the European Commission at the beginning of the year.

The Copernicus Relays are the regional voices of Copernicus in the individual member states, creating a bridge between the EC and end-users of Copernicus. The Copernicus Academy aims to educate and release an increasing amount of Copernicus-savvy people into the workforce.
Peter Zeil emphasised the importance of the Copernicus Academy, whose purpose in his view is three-fold:

  • being a gateway to Copernicus for all who want to know more, engage and contribute
  • to bridge the gap between local authorities, service providers and academia (i.e. public institutions, private sector companies and research) and 
  • to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and collaboration between actors 
After the launch event, all Copernicus Relays and Academy members gathered for the first annual General Assembly of the two networks. As of today, the Network includes 62 Relays and 80 Academy networks. 

Copyright pictures: European Commission & De Ribaucourt Photography

GISMO: Projekt zu gesundheitlichem Nutzen aktiver Mobilität

Ein interdisziplinäres Team aus Geoinformatikern, Medizinern und Mobilitätsforschern untersucht den gesundheitlichen Nutzen aktiver Pendelmobilität. Die aus dem Projekt GISMO (Geographical Information Support for Healthy Mobility) gewonnenen Erkenntnisse werden in eine intuitiv bedienbare Informations-Plattform einfließen, die für Pendler sowie für ein betriebliches Mobiltätsmanagment optimiert werden soll. Gefördert wird das von  Z_GIS geleitete Projekt (2016-2018) von der Österreichischen Fotschungsförderungsgesellschaft (FFG).
Untersuchung der körperlichen Leistungsfähigkeit (Foto: SALK)
Im Rahmen des Projektes wird an den Salzburger Universitätskliniken (SALK) eine Interventionsstudie implementiert, die vom Herzzentrum des Universitätsspitals Zürich maßgeblich konzipiert wurde. Ziel ist es, das Bewusstsein für den gesundheitlichen Effekt aktiver Mobilität bei Pendlern und Unternehmen zu stärken.

Nähere Informationen zum Projekt

Kontakt: Martin Loidl

Thursday, June 8, 2017

GeoS4S International Summer School in Thailand

The consortium of  the GeoServices-4-Sustainability (GeoS4S) project consisting of 10 universities from Europe, China and Thailand conducted its first International Summer School at the Asian Institute of Technology, Pathumthani, Thailand from May 22 to June 2, 2017. 

Participants and teachers pausing after the inaugural session

The summer school was designed to enhance geospatial competences of postgraduate students and junior faculty from all partners. It attracted 51 participants from 20 different nationalities studying / working at the partner universities in Europe, China and Thailand. The consortium taught 10 modules during these 2 weeks, with about 10 participants attending each module. 

The teachers from the consortium universities taught the concepts and methods of the modules they had developed and trained the participants in implementing those concepts and methods using geospatial data and GIS software.

The Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics-Z_GIS of the University of Salzburg, Austria serves as project coordinator assisted by co-funding from the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 CBHE (Capacity Building in Higher Education) from October 2015 to October 2018.

The consortium will organise two more international summer schools, one in China and one in Germany, during the next year.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Global Migration": Z_GIS at the Estoril Conference

The prestigious Estoril Conference (May 29-31, Estoril Congress Centre, Cascais, Portugal), with its general ambition to “Change the World”, this year focused on the overall topic “Global Migration”. The Estoril Conferences initiative, which has become a dialogue cluster for leaders, thinkers and opinion leaders from around the world, aims at responding to issues related to globalisation.

In a side event to the track “Migration With(out) Boundaries”, which investigated migratory flows as multi-faceted challenges to states and policies, Stefan Lang presented his initiative to support humanitarian NGOs by satellite remote sensing products. He showcased the various information products dedicated to humanitarian assistance and discussed his experience from the long-term cooperation between Z_GIS and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) with the audience, including representatives from the YouthSummit. The talk opened various paths to engage with other organisations in the humanitarian and health sector, who are likewise in urgent need for updated figures on the population in need, as well as mapping products to make their operations more efficient and targeted.

Contact: Stefan Lang

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chunzhu Wei's successful PhD defense

Chunzhu Wei, PhD researcher at Z_GIS successfully defended her PhD Thesis “Multi-scale spatial analysis methods from neighborhood to megacity”.

In her Thesis, Chunzhu focused on applying multi-scale methods to combine different geographical units with physical, social and other contextual characteristics in urban geographic analyses. Chunzhu used in her research project two common geographical units – zoning units and grid-based units in order to investigate the influence of scale in urban geographic analyses from micro-scale to macro-scale. Zoning units were aggregated from census blocks and were mainly used when considering the micro-scale characteristics, while grid-based units were aggregated from remote sensing imagery and were preferred when analyses were carried out at macro-scale.

The results of the dissertation showed that the conceptualized prototypes of zoning-based and grid-based semantic urban forms can serve as “prerequisites” to provide insights into complex human-environment interactions.
Around 30 attendees listened to Chunzhu’s impressive presentation which was followed by a fruitful discussion between the evaluators, Dr. João Porto de Albuquerque from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies of the University of Warwick and Dr. Dirk Tiede from Z_GIS. Dr. Thomas Blaschke as the main supervisor acted as the chair. 

Chunzhu will start her PostDoc career at DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt). She will  work on the development of novel evaluation methods and information products based on SAR and multispectral satellite data (Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, Landsat) within the framework of the BMBF project on environmental processes in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta

We wish her all the best for her future endeavours!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

High-tech day at the iDEAS:lab and the Science City Itzling

Friday, May 12 was high-tech day at the Science City Itzling in Salzburg.

In the morning, school classes were invited to the research and education institutes.

At the iDEAS:lab, pupils experienced geospatial technologies, showing: How can earth imagery support humanitarian action by analysing refugee camps? How are drone-based camera images used to construct 3D models? And how do user-centered routing applications work?

In an 'open lab' session in the afternoon, families, students and the public at large joined the researchers to see what they are working on and to check out by themselves.

Contact: Bernd Resch

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Winners of 'Young Researcher Award' in GIScience announced!

The Austrian Academy of SciencesCommission for GIScience annually selects the winner of a 'Young Researcher' competition, based on an outstanding publication submitted by applicants. This year's review-and-selection process turned into a tight race, with two entries tied for first place.

We are glad to extend our congratulations to:

Song Gao (University of California Santa Barbara, Department of Geography), for his paper on "Spatio-Temporal Analytics for Exploring Human Mobility Patterns and Urban Dynamics in the Mobile Age" published in Spatial Cognition & Computation, 15:86–114, 2015. DOI:10.1080/13875868.2014.984300

and as co-winner:

Xingjian Liu (The University of Hongkong, Department of Urban Planning and Design) for the paper co-authored with Ying Long (Tsinghua University and Beijing Institute of City Planning) on "Automated identification and characterization of parcels with OpenStreetMap and points of interest" published in Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 2016, Vol. 43(2) 341–360.

Congratulations again - and of course we will soon announce details for the 2018 'Young Researcher Award in GIScience'!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Experience Geospatial Technologies at iDEAS:lab on May 12

Z_GIS' iDEAS:lab again opens its doors to the general public on May 12 from 3-8pm. Throughout the month of May (labelled "Wissensmonat Mai" by Salzburg City) education and research institutes in Salzburg offer various knowledge-related activities for children and adults.

Friday May 12, is high-tech day at Science City Itzling! We are looking forward to meeting you accompanied by friends and family in our iDEAS:lab ready to explore a range of Digital Earth technologies.

Visitors experience how geo-technologies support daily lives by:
finding the safest way for bicycle rides
preparing earth imagery for humanitarian action, etc.

The iDEAS:lab (“Integrated Digital Earth Applications and Science Lab”) serves as a multipurpose open geospatial technologies and media lab, connecting education, research, the geo-tech industry and the public.

When: Friday, May 12, 3-8 pm
Where: iDEAS:lab
Schillerstraße 30
Techno-Z Bauteil XV, ground floor
5020 Salzburg

Contact: Bernd Resch

Friday, April 28, 2017

Panorama:Uni: Stefan Lang on providing EO-based services for dynamic information needs in humanitarian action

About 100 visitors attended Prof. Stefan Lang´s talk on his work for aid organizations at the Panorama:Uni event in Salzburg on April 24.

Outlining the development within the last ten years, he looked back on the first contact between Z_GIS and  Doctors without Borders (MSF) in 2008. In 2010, Z_GIS started its cooperation with MSF, which has been mainly financed by the Karl Kahane Stiftung since 2012.
Z_GIS´ information products on population density and dynamics, water availability and environmental resources support MSF in organizing and maintaining camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPS). Large numbers of new arrivals can mutate small villages into city-like settlements, raising challenges in terms of resources (water, medical health) and safety.

Within the EO4HumEn+ project, Z_GIS is currently closely cooperating with a wide range of NGOs and humanitarian actors including MSF, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Austrian Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages, and Groundwater Relief.

More information/video

Contact: Stefan Lang

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Nachwuchsförderpreis GI" to Jan Kinne for his master thesis

Jan Kinne is the winner of the 2017 „Nachwuchsförderpreis Geoinformatik” (category ‘master thesis’) which is awarded annually by the “Runder Tisch GIS” to honour outstanding research in Geoinformatics.

Ass.Prof. Bernd Resch, Z_GIS, supervised the thesis on “The Geographic Dispersal of the German Software Industry – Geospatial Analysis and Location Pattern Modeling”.

The objective of the thesis carried out at Heidelberg University was to analyse the geographic dispersal of software companies in Germany. Jan Kinne identified location determinants and developed a model predicting the local occurrence of software companies within each square kilometer of Germany. He showed that the relationship between the number of software companies and the predicting location factors can be adequately estimated.

More information

Abstract (German)

Contact: Bernd Resch

Monday, April 3, 2017

Emergency Management: New Austro-Polish Project on Cross-border Cooperation in Logistical Support after Natural Disasters

© CC: BY – Harald Weber
Cross-border emergency management are of utmost importance in the case of natural disasters. The project „Cross-border Cooperation in Logistical Support in Crisis Situations” aims to enhance collaboration and information exchange in the field of logistical support for rescue operations after natural disasters. The logistical support provides necessary services to support the affected population and to improve rescue services or preventive measures.
The project is funded by the German-Polish Science Foundation (DPWS) and carried out by researchers of University of Szczecin, Poland and University of Salzburg, Austria. The project team will evaluate the current state of the governmental cooperation in crisis situations and identify improvable procedures. The results will be presented at a conference in December 2017 at University of Szczecin and in a book published by Springer.

Contact: Bernd Resch 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Martin Loidl awarded PhD degree

Yesterday, Martin Loidl, member of the Z_GIS team, successfully defended his PhD Thesis  „Spatial Information and Bicycling Safety". In his thesis Martin investigated the potential contribution of spatial information towards a better understanding of bicycling safety and to the mitigation of bicycling safety risk. 

On the one hand spatial models are developed and conceptually described to assess the network’s quality in terms of bicycling safety level and to estimate traffic flows. On the other hand spatial and temporal analyses aim to gain insights in patterns and dynamics of bicycle crash occurrences. Finally, both approaches are used in conjunction in order to estimate the bicycle crash risk on the local scale level, while spatial implications, such as spatial heterogeneity and the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP), are made explicit. 

Around 30 attendees listened to Martin’s impressive and challenging presentation which was followed by a fruitful discussion between Martin and the evaluators, Dr. Thomas Blaschke from Z_GIS and Dr. Andreas Koch from the Department of Geography at the University of Salzburg. Dr. Josef Strobl as the main supervisor acted as the chair. 

In addition to his work in the UNIGIS distance learning programme, Martin is currently involved into two projects. The interdisciplinary project GISMO, led by Z_GIS,  aims to support healthy mobility in the application context of corporate mobility management initiatives: https://gismoproject.com/ .
 The target of the project FamoS is to establish a sound data basis for user-group specific traffic models and planning tools, with a focus on active mobility: http://www.zgis.at/index.php/de/research/research-projects/14-ffg-asap/215-famos-2016-2018
More information about Martin’s work can be found here: https://gicycle.wordpress.com

We wish Martin all the best for his future career! 

Urban Emotions II: Identifying Emotion Hot-Spots in the City

Based on the scientific findings of the highly successful first phase of the Urban Emotions project, its second phase, funded by DFG and FWF, is just being kicked off.

The promising transdisciplinary approach bridging the fields of Urban Planning and Geoinformatics will be developed further to address new scientific goals.

In close cooperation with emotion psychologists, the project aims to leverage wearable sensors to support the extraction of emotion information in the urban context. Urban Emotions will analyse diverse spatial and temporal data from calibrated technical sensors, as well as subjective human observations and social media to identify and classify emotion hot-spots in the city.

Therefore, a comprehensive "Privacy by Design" guideline will be established to account for ethnic, legal and social implications.
Several field studies (Boston, Sao Paolo, Salzburg) aim to reveal hidden insights into urban processes by coupling tests in real-world cities with virtual reality environments.

The project is led by Ass.-Prof. Dr. Bernd Resch (University of Salzburg, Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS) and Dr. Peter Zeile (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Planning), and carried out in cooperation with the Centre for Geographic Analysis – CGA (Harvard University).

Contact: Bernd Resch 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interpreting digital information is one key to information society

Digital skills are one of the keys to cope with chances and risks of our digital world. Prof. Thomas Blaschke, Z_GIS, discussed the impacts of digitisation on society with participants of the “Montagsrunde” at the "Robert-Jungk-Bibliothek für Zukunftsfragen" in Salzburg.

The ability of understanding and interpreting digital information is essential. This also applies to digital geographic information, which is increasing: more than 250 Google location-based service apps were identified which are penetrating our daily life based on geographic information – public transport, routing and car-sharing to name just a few. Above all, new technologies allow the user to participate. Civic involvement increasingly makes the user a ‘prosumer’ of information.

Nevertheless questions of data security and privacy make us feel uncomfortable, which was also obvious in the discussion. Another issue: Whilst companies like Google offering Internet services, are prospering, the benefit for the user is sometimes doubtful. Whereas consumers benefit from the sharing economy, the situation of employees sometimes deteriorates: Badly-paid drivers of companies offering delivery services feel increasing pressure by being monitored whenever they are on their way. Last but not least the risk of a digital divide within our society requires counteraction.

The participants agreed that overall society benefits in many ways from this technological development. And there are ways to influence what is about to come: the next few years will provide chances to actively steer this process. What is needed is education in ‘citizenship’ beyond commercial usage of technology but on how digital connectivity for everyone to everything, anywhere and at anytime can be used constructively within and for society.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Prof Thomas 'Tom' Poiker awarded 2017 Waldo-Tobler GIScience Prize

The Austrian Academy of Sciences through its Commission for GIScience is awarding the GIScience Prize named after Prof Waldo Tobler to a scientist having demonstrated outstanding and sustained contributions to the discipline worthy of inspiring young scientists in Geoinformatics or Geographic Information Science, and having accomplished significant advances in research and education.

The received nominations were reviewed and assessed by an external panel of peers, who unanimously (!) recommended to award the 2017 prize to Prof Thomas Poiker (SFU professor emeritus).

Thomas Poiker received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Economic Geography in 1966 from Heidelberg, and then joined Simon Fraser University’s Geography department in 1967. He quickly became interested in the emerging fields of computer cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and became one of the pioneers in GIS research. He has published widely on GIS methods, and held a joint appointment with Computer Science. In addition to GIS, 'Tom' also taught economic and quantitative geography and cartography.

Quoting from the evaluators letters of appreciation: "Thomas Poiker has contributed very significant foundational concepts to the field of GIScience since its very early days ... one of the most widely adopted algorithms for generalizing lines. The TIN structure similarly has become a foundational digital representation for digital surfaces at different granularities ... He has made significant contributions to core GIScience research and to GIScience education...". And, "Pioneering, and serving as a beacon in the early days of what was to become Geographic Information Science ... significantly influencing many generations of researchers, and highly regarded as an academic teacher".

Thomas Poiker also had played an important role in educational innovation: already in the 1990ies he joined the UNIGIS distance learning network of universities as its first North American partner, where he is remembered for introducing 'collaborative assignments' fostering teamwork long before the days of the MOOC, and for his dedication to individually advising students.

In the words of Jeff Thurston: "Tom Poiker was instrumental in the success of the UNIGIS program in Canada. As one of the MSc graduates originating from that program, I consider Tom to be the 'spatial spark' that caused my interest and intrigue about spatial science and GIS to begin and grow. Tom Poiker is not just passionate about GIS and computer science, but he is also one of the best professors I have interacted with - knowing "when to cause students to scratch their heads, to ponder their thoughts and to question outcomes." He nudged us toward finding answers on our own, and did so sometimes rather directly in disagreement, at others in humour and yet at other times with a return query. I can say that I turned toward GIS because of Tom. I was lucky to have him as a professor and we shared in a book we later wrote."

Congratulations to this recognition of a lifetime of leadership and excellence!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Z_GIS participation at JURSE 2017

The 2017 Joint Urban Remote Sensing Event (JURSE 2017) was organized along with the GIS and Remote Sensing Annual Scientific Forum (GRASF 2017) in Dubai from March 6-8. JURSE elucidates innovative methodologies and technological resources employed to investigate the manifold aspects of the urban environment through satellite and airborne remote sensing.

Professor Thomas Blaschke, vice-president of the Society of Geoinformatics, GeoIT and Navigation, held a key note presentation at GRASF on “Big Earth data”. He gave an engaging and fast-paced keynote address, arguing that while the amount of readily accessible remote sensing information is mounting, it is flat-lining when it comes to thirty years old concepts of downloading and processing image by image. He recommended more efforts be devoted to more intelligent, context-based image analysis and he introduced a concept developed at the University of Salzburg in a joint effort between the Departments of Geoinformatics and Computer Science based on data-cubes.

Professor Blaschke also conducted a special session on “Integrated analysis and monitoring approaches for livable cities at JURSE which investigated how spatial technologies can help urban planning to measure, monitor and ultimately improve liveability of cities and within cities. Among other speakers, PhD Candidate Pablo Cabrera-Barona presented an epistemological GIScience framework based on new economic approaches. In his talk “From the ´Good Living´ to the ´Common Good´: What is the role of the GIScience?” he discussed spatial indicators that can be linked to indicators used within these new economic approaches, with a focus on urban quality of life. His presentation was so well received by the expert audience that Pablo received invitations for further talks. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Winner of 2017 EDC 'Best Student Award': Azmat Arif

Azmat Arif
As an ESRI Development Center, Z_GIS every year has the opportunity to nominate one top student based on his or her software development competence. This year this special honour is awarded to Azmat Arif for work leading to her University of Salzburg "Applied Geoinformatics" MSc Thesis "Deriving Hospital Catchment Areas from Mobile Phone Data" supervised by Dr Bernd Resch.

A brief abstract describing Azmat's work: delineating catchment areas of medical facilities is essential for estimating the quality of a health-care system and to maximise the efficiency of health service provision. One critical shortcoming of previous approaches is manifested in comprehensive assumptions about a hospital’s patients by using census data or gravity models. In contrast, this approach uses anonymised mobile and landline phone data to derive hospital catchment areas. The overall goal is not to assess the quality of the health care system, but to identify the geographic areas from which people actually communicate with, and thus likely use a hospital. Thus, results from this research reveal new insights into the de facto catchment areas of hospitals by minimising assumptions about demographic factors. 

Catchment Areas: (a) Port of Spain General Hospital,
(b) San Fernando General Hospital,
(c) Caura Chest Hospital, and
(d) Sangre Grande General Hospital.
The approach proposed in this research uses anonymised mobile and landline phone data to delineate hospital catchment areas. The aim is to identify the geographic areas, in which people use a hospital instead of assessing the quality of the health care system per se. Therefore, we analyse calls to and from hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago. This goes beyond just using patient records in that we are able to draw conclusions from a wider range of communication with a hospital (enquiries, arrangement of appointments, follow-up care, visitors, etc.), beyond patients’ hospital stays.

In performing this research, a number of limitations are identified. First, not all calls made or received within a hospital are necessarily related to the hospital’s “business”, which induces an un-known bias. Moreover, it is not accounted for the mobile cells’ spatial density in this analysis. Thus, the current method does not consider the probability of a cell phone connected to a particular antenna decreaseing if many cells’ coverage areas overlap. Furthermore, the use of grid cells in the calculation of the catchment areas may lead to a modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP). This could potentially be mitigated by intersecting all ellipse segments, which was too computationally intensive given our extensive dataset. Finally, evaluation and validation of our results are difficult as no data for ground-truthing or comparable studies exist.

Congratulations to this distinction, and to continuing a tradition of excellence established by previous recipients of this award like Laura Knoth in 2016!

Earth observation for humanitarian action presented at Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2017

Under the headline “Humanity on the run” representatives of several humanitarian aid organizations gathered at the 4th Humanitarian Congress Vienna on 3rd March 2017, to create awareness for the multiple humanitarian crises the world is facing today, and to discuss political and ethical as well as organizational answers to these challenges. The Humanitarian Congress was organized by Doctors Without Borders, Caritas Austria, the Austrian Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages, and the Austrian Platform for Development and Humanitarian Aid – Global Responsibility and in collaboration with: CARE, Diakonie, Hilfswerk, HOPE´87, Jugend Eine Welt, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, and World Vision, and took place at the University of Vienna.

We used this opportunity together with Doctors Without Borders and the Austrian Red Cross to showcase our satellite-based mapping services to a wider audience of humanitarian aid experts. The various services include analyses of camps of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to estimate population numbers, support of groundwater exploration, and land cover (change) mapping. We provide these services operationally to Doctors Without Borders, and further develop and adapt them to the needs of other aid organizations such as the Austrian Red Cross and SOS Children’s Villages within various joint research projects.

Contact: Stefan Lang, Lorenz Wendt

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Einladung: Open Data Workshop - Stadt Salzburg

'Open Data' sind nicht nur wichtige Grundlage einer offenen und 'partizipativen' Gesellschaft, sondern dienen auch als Basis zahlreicher innovativer Anwendungen, hilfreicher Apps und neuer Perspektiven.

Österreich liegt im Bereich der Öffnung des Zugangs zu Datenbeständen im vorderen Feld (> https://www.data.gv.at), die Stadt Salzburg hat diese Initiative aktiv aufgegriffen. Als Fachbereich für Geoinformatik interessieren uns vorrangig georeferenzierte, dh verortete Daten und Dienste zu unterschiedlichen Thematiken, wir sprechen daher von OGGD - Open Geo|Government Data.

Wir laden zu diesem Workshop ein, um 'open data' der Forschungs-Community vorzustellen, deren Anwendung in der Lehre wie insbesondere auch Wirtschaft zu fördern und insgesamt das reichhaltige aktuelle Angebot vorzustellen.

Gleichzeitig streben wir eine Intensivierung des Dialogs mit den zuständigen Stellen in der Stadtverwaltung an. Welche Datensätze werden aktuell genutzt? Welche würden sich Anwender noch wünschen? Welche Zugangspfade werden bevorzugt? Welche Daten werden auf welcher administrativen Ebene bereitgestellt? Welche konkreten Lizenzmodelle stehen im Vordergrund?

Wo? iDEAS:lab der Universität Salzburg - Schillerstraße 30, Techno-Z XV, Erdgeschoß

Wann? Montag, 27.3. ab 14:30


  • 14:30 Kurze Statements zu OGGD - Open Geo|Government Data 
  • 14:45 Ein subjektiver Blick auf OGGD von Stadt und Land Salzburg sowie Österreich - J.Strobl 
  • 15:15 Bildung thematischer Arbeitsgruppen (zB: Datensätze, Datenqualität, Datenformate, ...) 
  • 15:30 Arbeitsgruppen zu den gewählten Themen 
  • 16:30 Vorstellung der erarbeiteten Ergebnisse 
  • 17:00ff Freie Diskussion, individuelle Vorstellung von Produkten etc 

Bitte um Anmeldung online!

Zur Vorbereitung des Workshop bieten wir an, einige Notizen zu ihren Interessen, Anliegen und Vorschlägen einzubringen ...

Wir freuen uns auf ein spannendes Treffen am 27.3.!
Josef Strobl

Smart Cities - A new Z_GIS project assesses green urban spaces in Salzburg

The FFG project grünOase (German title: Integrierte Analyse und Bewertung von grünen Stadtoasen) aims to develop a concept - including a practical guideline - that integrates quantitative and qualitative information on urban green structures. It supports the communication and information based smart design of green and open spaces with an integrative analysis and assessment of green city oases. Urban green spaces and recreational areas are essential contributors to the quality of urban life by supporting human well-being. 

The grünOase project employs quantitative remote sensing image classifications and enhances them with qualitative surveys of users of green and open spaces. The concept will be developed for two parks and their respective city quarters in Salzburg in order to test its usefulness in planning and design projects. The concept and the methods to be developed will be adaptable to green city oasis at national and international levels. Starting in April 2017, the Z_GIS project team, will implement grünOase together with their partner allee42 landschaftsarchitekten. grünOase is a one-year feasibility study funded by the the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund’s initiative on Smart Cities

Contact: Florian Albrecht, Antonia Osberger, Daniel Hölbling and Gyula Kothencz

Friday, March 3, 2017

Erasmus+ GeoS4S Workshop in Wuhan, China

The consortium of  the 'GeoServices-4-Sustainabiliy (GeoS4S)' project conducted a week-long international faculty development workshop from February 20-24, 2017 at the Department of Geoinformation Science, School of Resource and Environmental Science, Wuhan University, China.

The workshop entitled 'International Summer Schools - Structure and Content Design' focused on enhancing the planning, organisational and managerial capabilities of the participants in conducting international academic events like summer schools, intensive workshops etc. The objective was achieved by actually planning the start-to-end process of the 1st international summer school to be organsed by the GeoS4S consortium in Thailand during May-June, 2017.

(Workshop participants from Europe, China and Thailand)
This workshop, being the last in the series of three international faculty development workshops, marks a significant milestone in implementing the activities of GeoS4S project which is co-funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ programme.

One of the four major objectives of the 'GeoS4S' project is to conduct international summer schools at partner institutions in Europe, China and Thailand, with the first one scheduled from May 22 to June 2, 2017 at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Pathumthan, Thailand. The workshop boosted commitment of all partners and enhanced their motivation to implement the 'GeoS4S' activities with even greater enthusiasm and vigour!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Uni 55-Plus: Mapping and Presenting Art in Salzburg

Participants of the lecture on “Mapping and presenting art in Salzburg”, which was held by Z_GIS representatives Sabine Hennig and Robert Vogler in the winter term, prepared ArcGIS online story maps. The lecture was part of the Uni 55-PLUS programme at the University of Salzburg. For the story maps the students used data available in OpenStreetMap (including data added to OpenStreetMap). The data was preprocessed in QGIS.

Enjoy the student´s art trail, watch out for the best photo spots in the city and visit Mirabell Palace and Gardens

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Winter school "Managing big Data, Quality and Uncertainty in GIScience"

The Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS of the University of Salzburg organized a winter school “Managing big Data, Quality and Uncertainty in GIScience”at lake St. Wolfgang at the beginning of February.

About 40 participants, mainly from the Doctoral College “GIScience” and the PhD study programme “Applied Geoinformatics”, discussed new research trends, instruments, data and analytic tools for spatial information. Renowned experts from Computer Science, Cartography and information engineering were invited to contribute and to challenge the participants, organized in working groups. The process to crystallize group findings was purposely zigzagged: facilitators induced the thematic groups with their specific aspects, particularly in regard to managing Big Data, and handling spatial data quality and uncertainty.

Keynote speakers from Salzburg, Italy, Australia and United States challenged the audience with specific aspects of data quality to be taken into account when managing big Data.

One afternoon the whole crew headed up into the mountains to ride bobsleds. This activity completed the programme perfectly and bound the group together.

One of the results of the workshop was that the transition from small data to big data requires not only more computing power or scaling up of whatever methods and tools. Rather, changes and workflows and sophisticated statistical and geostatistical methods are needed, particularly when dealing with twitter data, mobile positioning and location based services. A special flavor of the Salzburg group turned out to be the “Big earth” approach where large amounts of multi-temporal satellite data are being processed to investigate environmental processes.