Research Labs and Research Areas


Research Laboratories

Organized research laboratories and groups within the area of spatial informatics include:

SCIS is also home to the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA)

Illustrative Research Areas

Graduate students and faculty are engaged in far ranging yet complementary research programs. Many of the projects involve multi-investigator and cross-disciplinary efforts. For specific project descriptions, consult the NCGIA site or some of the example research abstracts. The following are illustrative of general areas within which specific topics are being pursued.

  • Spatio-Temporal Models:  growing amount of data and information have important spatial and temporal dimensions. We need methods to manage, query, and access both dimensions.
    Research areas:

    • Databases for moving objects
    • Location based services
    • Event based models
    • Generic and domain-specific spatial ontologies
  • Geosensor Networks: Networks of small-form sensors with computing platforms and wireless communication streaming live data are deployed in massive numbers in geographical space. Geosensor networks are the next generation environmental platforms that deliver a microscopic view of geographic space. We need advanced methods for building robust, intelligent systems integrate sensing in space and time with understanding events in space and time.
    Research areas:

    • In-network data aggregation and spatial query execution
    • Qualitative and quantitative in-network algorithms to detect and incrementally track events
    • Mobile geosensor networks
    • Field-based foundations and algorithms for sensor data streams
  • User Interfaces and Interactions: As devices get smaller and we need to use them in different environments. New interaction paradigms are needed under the differing conditions.
    Research areas:

    • Sketch interaction
    • Egocentric pointing devices
    • Space-time visualization environments
  • Mixed Reality (Virtual and Augmented Reality): Despite being a relatively new technology, Mixed Reality is one of the fastest growing markets across the globe. It already disrupts a broad-cross section of industries including education, medicine, retail, as well as entertainment and social lives. However, there are numerous areas to improve.
    Research areas:

    • Multisensory technologies (including touch, smell, and taste)
    • Immersion, Presence, and Interaction in VR
    • Human sensory perception and multimodal interaction
    • Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
  • Information Extraction: Surveillance and monitoring systems generate huge volumes of information. From such data streams we want to identify objects and/or behaviors.
    Research areas:

    • Automated feature extraction from satellite and aerial imagery
    • Detection and tracking of moving objects from imagery
    • Event detection and activity monitoring from time series and space-time series sensing
  • Information Integration: Growing heterogeneous collections of information (maps, images, text, video, time series) need to be integrated and searched for patterns
    Research areas:

    • Semantic similarity models
    • Event data models
    • Metadata models
    • Uncertainty models
    • Logical approaches to semantic integration
  • Information Policy: Access, Security, Privacy, Intellectual Property Rights: As technologies and their interaction with society become more complex, neither technological nor legal solutions uninformed by the other are sufficient.
    Research areas:

    • Ethics driven information systems design
    • Interoperability of legal rights in the use of data
    • Models for internalizing external societal costs in systems design and development
    • Societal needs driven metadata, data provenance and recommender systems.
    • Protecting privacy in pervasive surveillance environments

Faculty Research Specialties

Among the key knowledge advancement interests of the faculty include the following:

Dr. Kate Beard: geographic information systems, digital libraries, uncertainty in spatial data, information visualization, spatial and temporal analysis

Dr. Max Egenhofer: geographic database systems, spatial reasoning, formalizations of spatial relations; user interface design, spatial query languages

Dr. Nicholas Giudice: perception, cognitive neuroscience, human factors engineering, neurocognitive engineering, multimodal interaction and spatial cognition

Dr. Torsten Hahmann: spatial informatics, knowledge representation, artificial intelligence, logic, ontologies of space and time, modular and hierarchical ontologies

Dr. Silvia Nittel: spatial database systems, geosensor networks, data streaming, decentralized spatial computing

Dr. Harlan Onsrud: information system legal and ethical issues, combined technological and legal approaches in addressing access, security, privacy, and intellectual property issues, STEM + Computing education research

Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe: multisensory interactive media, augmented reality, and human-computer Interaction

See detailed information about the research interests of each of these faculty members at the links above or at Faculty and Staff