Friday, December 6, 2019

PhD on 'remaining white spots' on our maps

Laura Knoth from RSA iSPACE had focussed her doctoral studies on the interfacing of BIM (Building Information Models) and GIS, aiming at extending geospatial analysis capabilities towards the built and specifically indoor environment. Core elements of her research were developed during a semester at the University of Melbourne, contributing to one of her key doctoral publications.

As data documenting structures come in all kinds of formats, she developed a generic data model supporting the mapping of domain ontologies onto a common framework connected to standard multidimensional visualisation and analysis engines. Her results serve as an important contribution to the development of full lifecycle digital workflows for buildings and cities.

Today, on Dec 6 Laura defended her doctoral thesis with perfect grades - congratulations!

Laura Knoth with discussants Barbara Hofer (left) and Gerhard Navratil (right)
and Josef Strobl (supervisor)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

CopHub.AC and EO4Geo at the European Space Week 2019

The General Assembly of the networks Copernicus Academy and Relay was  held this year at the European Space Week 2019, 1-5 Dec 2019, in Helsinki, Finland. The Horizon 2020 project CopHub.AC - with the aim to boost and sustain the Copernicus Academy and supporting the Copernicus Support Office and DG GROW in this respect -  and the Erasmus+ Skills Alliance project EO4GEO - trying to bridge the skills gap between supply and demand of education and training in the EO*GI sector - were prominent parts of the General Assembly. CopHub.AC and the main innovation elements the project suggests to the network, was presented by Z_GIS, Stefan Lang and Barbara Riedler. 

As project coordinators they also served as representatives for the Meet the Expert sessions. A workshop was held together with University of Malaga and Evenflow discussing about strategies to sustain the Copernicus Academy. Its current activities were well represented at this unique European event by CopHub.AC partners being present, including GISIG, University of Basilicata, KU Leuven, Climate-KiC, EARSC and Spatial Services

Contact: Stefan Lang, Barbara Riedler

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

GIS Day 2019

Geographie zum Anfassen: Am 13. November luden der IFFB für Geoinformatik (Z_GIS) und der FB Geographie & Geologie zusammen mit der PLUS SoE Schulklassen dazu ein, im Sationenbetrieb die Welt der digitalen Geographie hautnah zu erleben.

Der GIS- Day ist mittlerweile ein fester Bestandteil im Eventangebot des Fachbereichs Geoinformatik und soll dazu dienen, Schülern das breit gefächerte Spektrum der Geowissenschaften zu präsentieren und eine Vorausschau über Lerninhalte und Möglichkeiten der Spezifikationen für zukünftige Studierende im Fach Geoinformatik zu erläutern.  

Die teilnehmenden Schulklassen konnten dieses Jahr in unterschiedlichsten Modulen wie dem Messen mit GPS- Systemen, der Arbeit mit Open Street Map Daten, der Geo-Analyse von Sozialen Medien oder dem Gebrauch partizipativer Geo-Apps wie CITIZENMORPH einen Einblick in verschiedene Forschungsgebiete der Geoinformatik erlangen. Hierbei konnten die Teilnehmer entsprechend ihren Kenntnissen aus dem Schulunterricht interaktiv die einzelnen Module begleiten und ergänzen. 

Als Auflockerung zwischen den einzelnen Lerneinheiten erhielten die Schüler in einer „Free Play Session“ die Gelegenheit, im interaktiven Forschungslabor (IDEAS:lab) des Fachbereichs Geoinformatik Anwendungen aus dem Bereich der GI-Technologie wie die „Augmented Sandbox“ zum Modellieren topographischer und hydrologischer Prozesse auszuprobieren.

Ebenso großem Interesse erfreute sich auch die Station „Virtual Reality“ bei der die Teilnehmer mittels einer VR-Brille und Google Earth einen virtuellen Rundflug um die Erde erleben konnten. Darüber hinaus konnten sich die Schüler im Zusammenbau von durch 3D- Druck erstellten Höhenmodelle üben, womit eine Verbindung zwischen virtueller und analoger Welt hergestellt wird.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Erasmus+ CBHE: Successful DSinGIS project meeting

In the framework of the DSinGIS project, which aims to support Uzbekistan in sustainable development by geoinformation sciences (GISc), the 2nd review meeting took place in Tashkent in mid of October. This meeting was organized by the Uzbek partners at Tashkent Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering (TIAC) .
As one of the objectives of this project is to enhance the scientific level of academic and research staff at UZ partner universities, the project meeting started with a full-day training workshop on “Research methodologies and scientific writing”. Highly engaged and motivated researchers from different partner universities in Uzbekistan participated in this training and gained a lot of new insights how to improve their writing techniques and which possibilities they can use for publishing their scientific results in various open access journals.
Inspired by this workshop, Ilhom Abdurahmanov, one of the project coordinators, organized an additional presentation about “Research methodologies and scientific writing” which was held by Erika Blaschke, one of the representatives of PLUS, at Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers (TIIAME). More than 30 participants, consisting of faculty members, as well as of senior scientists and young researchers, followed this presentation, which ended up in a lively discussion on different aspects on scientific publishing and scientific collaboration possibilities cross-boarders.

Z_GIS contact: Sabine Hennig

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

International Real-Scenario Assessment of the HUMAN+ Demonstrator

Real-world Exercise with International Humanitarian Experts to Evaluate the HUMAN+ Project Developments

The HUMAN+ project team gathered at the THW training center in Neuhausen, Germany for an in-depth project demonstration and hands-on sessions with experts in the field of disaster management, representing different institutions like the Red Cross, THW, Johanniter, and the police. The HUMAN+ demonstrator supports the detection and management of refugee movements in order to coordinate humanitarian aid. The demonstrator includes various innovative geospatial layers that visualise refugee-related activities at different administrative levels. Half of the layers are based on social media data such as a hotspot layer that shows geospatial clusters of refugee-related activities, or the origin/destination layers that quantify how many people are leaving a region and where they are heading to.

During the demonstration, the experts worked on real international and national scenarios and assessed the situations based on the geospatial layers provided by the demonstrator. Following a critical discussion the experts highly acknowledged the current state of the demonstrator but provided valuable domain-specific feedback to tailor the demonstrator to the needs for effective disaster management. This input was directly used in the follow-up discussion of the technical development partners, during which the future implementation steps were agreed upon.

The final project results will be available around mid 2020. More information can be found at

HUMAN+ is funded by the Austrian security research programme KIRAS of the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Netzwerk Itzling visit in the iDEAS:lab

Members of the Netzwerk Itzling, a representative interest group for the residents and different actors in the district, visited the iDEAS:lab for an exchange of thoughts and ideas. Visitors got an impression about media technology, methodology and different applications referring Geoinformatics. Technologies like GPS, Virtual Reality, Object Based Image Analysis and several Digital-Earth- Applications required the attention of the visitors.  

The overall aim is to establish a consistent exchange between scienctists from different faculties like the Center for Human- Computer Interaction, the faculty of chemistry and physics as well as the ideas:lab which belongs to the interfaculty department of Geoinformatics. Furthermore citizens and business representatives should have the possibility to get an impression about the different research areas which are located in the Science City Itzling.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

ASEA Uninet Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!

The Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS implemented a week-long Interdisciplinary Faculty Development Workshop on 'Integrated Spatial Management with GIScience' at University of Transport and Communications, Ho Chi Minh City campus (UTC-HCMC), Vietnam. The workshop was organised jointly by Z_GIS and UTC-HCMC from 23rd to 27th September, 2019 and it was co-funded by ASEA Uninet Austria.

Prof. Josef Strobl (Head of Z_GIS) had been guiding the design and implementation of various types of activities for enhancing geospatial capabilities at the cooperating Universities in Southeast Asia (i.e. Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) over the last one and half decades. This was the 15th GIScience capacity building workshop Z_GIS has conducted in the region and altogether trained about 500 university level young teachers and students.

Dr. Tran Xuan Hoa, Deputy Head of Science, Technology and International Cooperation Department, UTC-HCMC chaired the inaugural session of this workshop. The session opened with a welcome address delivered by Dr. Le Van Phuc, Vice Dean of Faculty of Civil Engineering and it was followed by introduction of the workshop and the the participants.

Dr. Shahnawaz from Z_GIS taught the concepts of GIScience and spatial analyses to the participants as well as trained them in generating and processing a range of data sets required for integrated spatial management using ArcGIS Pro software. Having background in civil engineering, 16 young teachers and students participated in the workshop and worked on group projects focusing on applications of GIScience in Building Information Management, Highway & Long Bridge Construction as well as their monitoring and Management during floods.

(participants displaying workshop completion certificates)

Prof. Dr. Nguyan Van Hung, Vice Rector (UTC-HCMC), congratulated the participants for having benefitted from this pioneering GIScience workshop in the campus. He also conveyed his gratitude to Z_GIS as well as to ASEA Uninet and extended invitation to Z_GIS faculty for strengthening and expanding institutional collaboration for longterm mutual benefits.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Erasmus+ EMJMD successfully launched

The new Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) programme funded under the Erasmus+ scheme has been successfully launched today at the University of Salzburg, Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS. The programme has been kicked-off with an 'Orientation Project' where students receive in-depth guidance regarding structure of entire curriculum and student life at Copernicus Master in Digital Earth - CDE partner universities. The highly diversified orientation includes scientific presentations, a conference keynote participation, several interactive sessions, as well as socialising in and around Salzburg.

Admission to EM CDE has been offered to twelve outstanding applicants after a qualification based selection process. A GeoData Science – Specialization Track @ University of South Brittany, Département Informatique and a Geovisualisation & Geocommunication – Specialization Track @ Palacky University Olomouc, Faculty of Science, Department of Geoinformatics offer candidates a pathway towards excellence in advanced Earth Obsveration / Geoinformatics addressing the Copernicus and Digital Earth missions and objectives. The first two semesters students study Earth Observation and Geoinformatics at the University of Salzburg, Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS.

Project and Joint Programme Co-ordinator:
Josef Strobl, University of Salzburg, Z_GIS
Programme Office:
Website: Sentinel-2 Semantic Data Cube Austria

On 9 September 2019, the consortium of the FFG-ASAP project held a user requirements meeting at ZAMG premises in Vienna and presented the first prototype of an operational Sentinel-2 semantic Earth observation (EO) data cube Austria.

During the meeting, the academic partner (University of Salzburg, Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS) and the university spin-off Spatial Services GmbH presented the newly developed prototype to the project partners AMA (Agrarmarkt Austria) and ZAMG (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik). In the afternoon session, the meeting was open to a wider audience and other interested users.

The presented prototype is the worldwide first semantic EO data cube for Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission data. It provides new and innovative features, including semantic content-based image retrieval and image analysis of all captured Sentinel-2 data through space and time in user-selected areas of interest (AOI) and user selected time intervals.
A semantic EO data cube was defined as a spatio-temporal data cube containing EO data, where for each observation at least one nominal (i.e., categorical) interpretation is available and can be queried in the same instance (see Augustin et al, 2019).

This approach allows human users to query and analyse EO data on a higher semantic level (i.e. based on at least basic land cover units and encoded ontologies) directly in the data cube. A unique Web-interface allows interactive human-like queries based on spatio-temporal and semantic relationships. The requirements of different target user groups are met by explicitly specifying spatio-temporal models as semantic queries and storing & sharing them in a knowledge base. The semantic queries are translated by an inference engine into data cube queries and executed on-the-fly on the server-side against the data cube, where the new information is inferred. Results depend on the semantic query and include (1) analysis maps for online use or as download option for integration in any GIS, (2) time series curves for aggregated results per AOI, or (3) the selection Sentinel-2 data sets that match user-defined criteria for downloading and further analysis

The semantic EO data cube is generic, meaning it is useful for multiple thematic domains. Its potential is demonstrated in the project by developing different services in a proof-of-concept environment for Austria.

Already implemented services include:
*Semantic content-based image retrieval, e.g. for cloud-free image retrieval based on user-defined AOIs instead of image wide statistics, which is not possible in any other Sentinel-2 image database worldwide. 

*Spatio-temporal analysis through time analysing the semantic categories through time for any user-defined AOI and/or time span.               
In the second half of the project more services are developed. They will allow the generation of cloud-free mosaics for user-specified time intervals and the development of a mobile App for location-based queries through time. The prototype will be scaled up to the entire country of Austria, covering all available Sentinel-2 images since the launch of Sentinel-2A in 2015. The semantic EO data cube is implemented at EODC infrastructure; since July 2019, Z_GIS is also an associated partner of the EODC.

The Web-interface prototype serves as graphical inference engine and allows interactive human-like queries based on spatio-temporal and semantic relationships. Requirements of different user groups can be met by explicitly specifying and sharing spatio-temporal models in a knowledge base (here: analysis of water occurrence through time)

Semantic content-based image retrieval in user defined areas and user defined time intervals covering all available Sentinel-2 data within Austria, here: cloud-free image retrieval for a user selected AOI for July 2018 (image IDs of cloud free images are returned and a statistic of the cloud cover of the AOI for all analysed images).  

Contact:  Dirk Tiede, Martin Sudmanns