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Guest Speaker Stu Rich from Penbay Solutions

This week’s guest speaker was Stu Rich from Penbay Solutions who spoke on Extending GIS into the Built Environment: Emerging Trends and Patterns. View the presentation at

Laura Toma Guest Presentation

A guest presentation was made in the regular department seminar by Laura Toma from the Department of Computer Science at Bowdoin College on Monday 14 March 2011. Laura talked about “An Edge Quadtree for External Memory”. See

Professor Onsrud Honored by UCGIS

From a nationwide call for nominations, Professor Harlan Onsrud of the University of Maine was among six individuals to be honored as a Fellow by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS). UCGIS is a non profit organization of seventy universities and other research institutions dedicated to expanding and strengthening geographic information science.

The award announcement permanently maintained on the UCGIS web site reads as follows:

Harlan J. Onsrud has been a leader in research and education on the legal, ethical, and institutional issues surrounding spatial information since the 1980s. Professor Onsrud was instrumental in the establishment of the UCGIS. He participated in the founding meeting in Boulder, Colorado, and took the lead in drafting the original UCGIS bylaws. Harlan then served as the first Chair of the UCGIS Policy and Legislation Committee and played a key role in the planning of early UCGIS Congressional Breakfast events. He also served as President of the UCGIS. Professor Onsrud convened the second UCGIS Summer Assembly, a very successful meeting held in Bar Harbor, Maine, that focused on UCGIS Education Priorities.

Professor Onsrud is a member of the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering at the University of Maine, where he has taught and conducted research for much of his career. Harlan is a multitalented and transdisciplinary figure, a licensed engineer, land surveyor and attorney as well as an information science professor. Harlan Onsrud earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his Juris Doctor (J. D.) degree, all at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Professor Onsrud’s research focuses on the analysis of legal, ethical, and institutional issues affecting the creation and use of digital databases and the assessment of the social impacts of spatial technologies. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Federal Geographic Data Committee, and the U.S. Department of Education. Professor Onsrud teaches courses in Information Systems Law, Information Ethics, Cadastral and Land Information Systems, and Research Ethics.

Harlan Onsrud’s commitment to data sharing and open intellectual property principles have led him to take on a number of leadership and service roles in national and international organizations. He has served as President and currently serves as Executive Director of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI). He is a former Chair of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) of the National Research Council and former chair of the Socieconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Working Group for CIESIN at Columbia University. He chaired a U.S. National Research Council Study on the Licensing of Spatial Data and has participated in numerous other NAS studies — he is a lifetime National Associate of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences. Selected for the Fulbright Specialists program roster, he most recently received Fulbright funding for an extended visit at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He was also a leading figure in transitioning the Journal of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association to an open electronic and print journal and served as Editor-in-Chief through that transition.

For his contributions to Geographic Information Science, both in general and especially in the context of information policy, and for his tireless service to UCGIS, Harlan J. Onsrud is very deserving of the honor of being appointed as a Fellow of UCGIS.

Others honored at the Spring 2011 meeting and their current or former affiliations include Dr. William J. Craig, University of Minnesota, Dr. Jerome E. Dobson, University of Kansas, Dr. Michael F. Goodchild, University of California Santa Barbara, Dr. Karen K. Kemp, University of Southern California, and Dr. Duane F. Marble, Ohio State University.

Monday Seminar on Visualizing and Exploring Events from Sensor Networks

Title: Visualizing and Exploring Events from Sensor Networks

Speaker: Dr. Kate Beard

SIE/NCGIA Joint Seminar Series
336 Boardman Hall, University of Maine
4:00pm, Monday, January 31, 2011

Abstract: Sensor networks and other new technologies are generating volumes of data with both temporal and spatial components. Analysis and synthesis of these space-time data streams requires tools for discovery of patterns and structure in both time and space.  GIS has served well for discovery and analysis of spatial patterns and time series have been a workhorse for temporal display and analysis. Effective visual and exploratory methods that combine space and time dimensions have been more elusive. This presentation describes an approach for the abstraction of space-time series into events and an exploratory environment for the visualization and exploration of events

Kate Beard is a professor in the Department of Spatial Information Science Engineering at the University of Maine. She has been a research faculty with the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) since its beginning in 1989 and currently serves as the Director for NCGIA-Maine.  She also serves as Project Director for an NSF IGERT Sensor Science, Engineering and Informatics. Her current research interests include spatio-temporal data models, spatial information retrieval, and exploratory analysis and visualization of spatio-temporal

Please join us for this presentation.  Refreshments will be available.

Dr. Giudice receives College of Engineering Early Career Research Award

On Friday, Nov. 19, Dr. Nicholas Giudice was honored at the College of Engineering’s 31st Annual Edward T. Bryand Recognition Banquet. Over 150 guests gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the engineers, faculty, students, and staff who have brought distinction to the profession of engineering. Nick was the recipient of the 2010 Early Career Research Award, the college’s highest honor for tenure-track faculty.

Ben Weber successfully defends thesis on Mobile Map Browsers

Benjamin T. Weber successfully defended his thesis on November 22 on the topic of Mobile Map Browsers: Anticipated User Interaction for Data Pre-fetching


When browsing a graphical display of geospatial data on mobile devices, users typically change the displayed maps by panning, zooming in and out, or rotating the device. Limited storage space on mobile devices and slow wireless communications, however, impede the performance of these operations. To overcome the bottleneck that all map data to be displayed on the mobile device need to be downloaded on demand, this thesis investigates how anticipated user interactions affect intelligent pre-fetching so that an on-demand download session is extended incrementally. User interaction is defined as a set of map operations that each have corresponding effects on the spatial dataset required to generate the display. By anticipating user interaction based on past behavior and intuition on when waiting for data is acceptable, it is possible to device a set of strategies to better prepare the device with data for future use.

Users that engage with interactive map displays for a variety of tasks, whether it be navigation, information browsing, or data collection, experience a dynamic display to accomplish their goal. With vehicular navigation, the display might update itself as a result of a GPS data stream reflecting movement through space. This movement is not random, especially as is the case of moving vehicles and, therefore, this thesis suggests that mobile map data could be pre-fetched in order to improve usability. Pre-fetching memory-demanding spatial data can benefit usability in several ways, but in particular it can (1) reduce latency when downloading data over wireless connections and (2) better prepare a device for situations where wireless internet connectivity is weak or intermittent.
This thesis investigates mobile map caching and devises an algorithm for pre-fetching data on behalf of the application user. Two primary models are compared: isotropic (direction-independent) and anisotropic (direction-dependent) pre-fetching. A pre-fetching simulation is parameterized with many trajectories that vary in complexity (a metric of direction change within the trajectory) and it is shown that, although anisotropic pre-fetching typically results in a better pre-fetching accuracy, it is not ideal for all scenarios. This thesis suggests a combination of models to accommodate the significant variation in moving object trajectories. In addition, other methods for pre-fetching spatial data are proposed for future research.

Efficient Data Collection and Event Boundary Detection in Wireless Sensor Networks Using Tiny Models

K. King and S. Nittel, 2010, Efficient Data Collection and Event Boundary Detection in Wireless Sensor Networks Using Tiny Models, International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience), Zurich, Switzerland, Springer LNCS.

Using wireless geosensor networks (WGSN), sensor nodes often monitor a phenomenon that is both continuous in time and space. However, sensor nodes take discrete samples, and an analytical framework inside or outside the WSN is used to analyze the phenomenon.. In both cases, expensive communication is used to stream a large number of data samples to other nodes and to the base station. In this work, we explore a novel alternative that utilizes predictive process knowledge of the observed phenomena to minimize upstream communication. Often, observed phenomena adhere to a process with predictable behavior over time.We present a strategy for developing and running so-called ‘tiny models’ on individual sensor nodes that capture the predictable behavior of the phenomenon; nodes now only communicate when unexpected events are observed. Using multiple simulations, we demonstrate that a significant percentage of messages can be reduced during data collection.

SIE Team wraps up Maine National Guard-funded project “Situational Awareness in Emergency Management”

Today, a SIE team consisting of Drs. Beard, Nittel and Worboys and Dr Abedi (ECE) with students Jake Emerson, Ben Maynard, JC Whittier, Lisa Walton and Fred Schwaner wrapped up the Maine National Guard funded project “Situational Awareness in Emergency Management”, and presenting the results and a system demo to LTC Darveau, who represented the Maine National Guard.

The goal of the SenseME project has been to improve situational awareness — what is happening in an emergency, and where, when and how the state is responding. The effort addresses disasters indoors and out, including those with swift devastation, such as tornadoes or floods, or with evolving impact, such as pandemics. Using sensor  and wireless sensor network technology, spatial database management systems, OCG interoperability standards, and Google map based user interfaces, the researchers have developed a prototype system of an integrated common operating picture built with real-time information to better equip civil and military emergency management responders.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins helped secure $1.9 million in funding for the Maine National Guard. The allocation funds development of a rapid data management system by Global Relief Technology (GRT), which specializes in mobile computing technology using real-time data for use in emergency management, military operations, and relief and reconstruction efforts worldwide. SenseME is a component of that rapid data management system. “The research being conducted by (the University of Maine and) Global Relief Technologies and the deployment of the Rapid Data Management System will improve the ability of our nation’s soldiers and first responders to respond in times of crisis,” says Collins. “As we have unfortunately seen from past disasters, a breakdown in communication will hamper the ability of first responders and emergency management officials to take action.”

For more information on the project, see the article in Umaine Today.

Max Egenhofer awarded $500,000 NSF grant

Dr. Max Egenhofer has recently received an IIS NSF award for his proposal “A Theory of Topological Relations for Compound Spatial Objects“.

Proposal Abstract:
Spatial data collections with an incomplete coverage yield regions with holes and separations that often cannot be filled by interpolation. Geosensor networks typically generate such configurations, and with the proliferation of sensor colonies, there is now an urgent need to provide users with better information technologies of cognitively plausible methods to search for or compare available spatial data sets that may be incomplete. The objective of the investigations is to advance knowledge about qualitative spatial relations for spatial regions with holes and/or separations.

The core activity is the study of the interplay between topological spatial relations with holed regions and topological spatial relations with separated regions to address the potentially complex configurations that feature both holes and separations. Three characteristics of such a set of topological relations are addressed: the formalization of a sound set of relations at a granularity that allows for the distinction of the salient features of holed and separated regions, while offering the opportunity to generalize to coarser relations in a meaningful and consistent way; the relaxation of such relations so that the determination of the most similar relations follows immediately from the applied methodology; and the qualitative inference of new information from the composition of such relations to identify inconsistencies and to drawn information that is not immediately available from individual relations.

The hypothesis is that combining the relation formalization with sound similarity and composition reasoning yields critical insights for a sufficiently expressive, common approach to modeling topological relations for holed regions and regions with separations. The resulting theory of topological spatial relations highlights a parallelism between relations with holed regions and regions with separations, which is most apparent when these regions are embedded on the surface of the sphere, while some parts of these regularities are often hidden in the usual planar embedding.

Since topological relations are qualitative spatial descriptions, they come close to people’s own reasoning, so that a better understanding of the relations for compound spatial objects will have ramifications for qualitative spatial reasoning, without a need for drawing graphical depictions to make inferences. It also lays the foundation for linguistic constructs to communicate in natural language spatial configurations, ultimately leading to talking maps.

4th Conference on Geosensor Networks, Melbourne, Australia, 2011

The 4th International Conference on Geosensor Networks will take place in July 2011 in Melbourne, Australia and is organized by Matt Duckham.

GSN 2011 is the fourth in a series of international conferences on advances in geosensor networks, to be held in Melbourne, Australia in July 2011. GSN 2011 will showcase the latest research and applications in computing with geosensor networks, and computing with the dynamic, fine granularity spatio-temporal data generated by geosensor networks. This page will be regularly updated with all the information about the conference, from call for papers, submissions, travel, accommodation, and programs.

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Spatial Information Science and Engineering
5711 Boardman Hall, Room 348
Orono, Maine 04469-5711
Phone: (207) 581-2188 | Fax: (207) 581-2206
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469