A very brief AGIT & GI-Forum 2015 review

Last week the twin conferences AGIT internet and GI-Forum internet took place in Salzburg, Austria. Once again it was a very intensive but stimulating event with great conversations, new contacts, nice social events and of course the everlasting struggle to choose the right session from an extensive offer of attractive parallel tracks. Whereas the general tenor of the keynotes was the increasingly tight relation between GIS and IT, my personal conference focus lay on spatial modelling and analysis in the context of transportation.

Searching the web you’ll find lots of personal reviews (this one internet by Anita is a great example!) and social media snippets (#AGIT2015 internet #GIForum2015 internet). Nevertheless here is a list of links you might find useful:

My conference week was dominated by the impressions from two keynotes I could attend (unfortunately I missed the other ones due to overlaps in the program) and my involvement in a double-session on transportation modelling (have a look at my recent post internet), the OpenStreetMap special forum internet and the track on Austria’s harmonized road graph, GIP internet.

simonisIn Tuesday’s keynote Ingo Simonis internet from OGC talked about the role of standards in the context of smart cities. His motivation to argue for establishing geospatial intelligence (… and with this standards) in enormously fast growing urban agglomerations is the correlation between size and opportunities/challenges: “The bigger a city, the more of everything is there.” A geospatial framework of connected devices is thereby regarded as part of sustainable solutions that turn these vibrant, urban hot spots into smart cities. As in nearly every presentation on smart cities Songdo in South-Korea served as role model and poster child of Ingo’s argumentation (a reference I personally find not that convincing – but this would be an entirely different discussion on liveable vs. smart cities).
What I found really intriguing was Ingo’s elaborations on the “social” aspect of standards. Until recently standards were more a bone dry threat than anything else to me. But Ingo made a very important notion on that: he illustrated how standards are, as he put it, the distilled wisdom of people with expertise in their respective field. In other words, standards don’t necessarily define in advance how things have to be done, but are recommendations or a framework for activities that are already established … Standards are about a common understanding and language of domain knowledge and practise.

privacy_twitter_strobl The second keynote on Wednesday morning came right from the opposite spectrum of the handling of large data amounts, or better data stream. Manfred Hauswirth internet gave an inspiring overview of what is currently going on in the field of linked data and what’s the role of GIS in the never-ending stream of data, semantic relations and interdependencies. He spoke of the internet of everything where the most relevant thing (above all in terms of business models) is to extract useful information from data; something Manfred called a rather untapped resource. Four take home messages made it into my notepad:

  1. Linking is the new (Is it really new? Actually this is how our human brains have worked for millennia) paradigm in the handling of data sets/streams.
  2. Data are increasingly dynamic. This is why the whole processing needs to be designed adaptable.
  3. As geonames are central to the semantic web, geospatial data and knowhow are of great importance.
  4. Privacy is gone. The latter point was of course not revolutionary or new. But it was the first time I heard this statement explicitly and without any dilution in a keynote on a GI conference (probably because the keynote speaker has a background in computer science) – normally we hear bloomy mantras such as: “GIS helps to make the earth a better place.” blablabla. Maybe the organizers of next year’s GI-Forum could invite a philosopher as keynote speaker, talking about the responsibility we have in science and IT!

As the years before, a highlight of the German-speaking conference, the AGIT, was the OpenStreetMap special forum, organized by TraffiCon internet. This year I had the chance to contribute actively; it was a great honor to got invited for a presentation on the suitability of OSM and OGD data for network modelling and analysis. Here are the slides of my presentation (sorry, German language), which I think are self-explanatory and don’t need any further comments:

 

gipday2015Speaking at the OSM special forum the day before, it was a somehow exotic experience to give another presentation in a session dedicated to authoritative road data on Thursday morning. Since 6 years (with several more years with preparatory projects) all administrative bodies in Austria edit and manage their road-related data in the so called Graphenintegrationsplattform, GIP (engl. harmonized road graph). This standard allows for nationwide applications and prevents from cost-intensive data redundancies within administrations.
We’ve been working for quite a while with GIP data in the context of bicycle routing. Currently the web application http://www.radlkarte.info internet is based on authoritative road data. Over the last two years the quality of the GIP data has been significantly increased. But still, there are some critical issues that become evident when the data are used in an operative environment. This is why we have developed several quality control routines considering above all topology and attributes. The latter is important for (spatial) modelling approaches with which the data are interpreted and fitted into the specific application context. With this parallel approach – quality testing plus modelling – the reliability and robustness of the data could have been significantly increased, as I demonstrated in my presentation:

 

Any comments and questions? I’m looking forward to read and learn from you!

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