GIS and transport modeling – strengthening the spatial perspective

ijgi-screenshotI’m pleased to announce that our paper “GIS and Transport Modeling – Strengthening the Spatial Perspective” has been published in the International Journal of Geo-Information (Open Access internet). This paper is the result of a very fruitful collaboration between researchers from four different institutions: Gudrun, Eva and myself from the Department of Geoinformatics, Z_GIS internet (University of Salzburg), Rita from the Institute of Transport Research internet (German Aerospace Center, DLR), Anita from the Mobility Department internet (Austrian Institute of Technology, AIT) and Johannes from the Institute of Geodesy internet (Graz University of Technology).

The initial idea for this review and outlook paper stems from last year’s GI-Forum internet conference, where we gathered to discuss the implications of space for transport models. This paper is the attempt to structure and summarize the discussion and to embed it into the current body of literature. Although we touch other dimensions – such as time or human behavior – in this paper as well, the focus clearly lies on the role of space and the effect of a more explicit consideration in transport models. Consequently we regard GIS as integrated platform for all stages of transport modeling:

Abstract: The movement and transport of people and goods is spatial by its very nature. Thus, geospatial fundamentals of transport systems need to be adequately considered in transport models. Until recently, this was not always the case. Instead, transport research and geography evolved widely independently in domain silos. However, driven by recent conceptual, methodological and technical developments, the need for an integrated approach is obvious. This paper attempts to outline the potential of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for transport modeling. We identify three fields of transport modeling where the spatial perspective can significantly contribute to a more efficient modeling process and more reliable model results, namely, geospatial data, disaggregated transport models and the role of geo-visualization. For these three fields, available findings from various domains are compiled, before open aspects are formulated as research directions, with exemplary research questions. The overall aim of this paper is to strengthen the spatial perspective in transport modeling and to call for a further integration of GIS in the domain of transport modeling.
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Capabilities of a GIS as integrated environment for transport modeling

Capabilities of a GIS as integrated environment for transport modeling

The paper itself is the last step of a very creative and iterative writing process. Different to previous publications, this was the first time for me to write a joint paper with so many co-authors, each with a different background and a specific perspective. However, I think the result shows that the effort for finding a common language and for the coordination of all inputs and ideas was worth it. Here are the lessons I’ve learned in these respects:

  • Multi-disciplinary collaboration and paper writing means more work but better results. The reason for this is simple: in the process of finding a common language everyone needs to shape his or her argument more precisely. Additional multiple perspectives on one and the same topic enrich the common picture.
  • The spatial dimension has a strong integrative power. It allows overlaying and relating various domain-specific approaches and thus, not only serves as common denominator in the literal, geographical sense, but also in the “domain-space”.
  • Good communication is the starting point of any collaboration and an absolute necessity throughout the paper writing process. We all came together, more or less by chance, at a conference where we had the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss future research paths. This “real-world communication” has been subsequently transferred to the virtual space, using various collaboration and communication tools.
  • Shared enthusiasm fuels and accelerates  a fruitful collaboration. This paper was entirely written outside any project context. It’s the result of unpaid work of dedicated (young) researchers. However it was a stimulating experience to (better) get to know each other and by the way, it is an excellent starting point for further – hopefully funded – joint research activities.
  • It is fun to work with fellow researchers who are all dedicated to a common goal: strengthening the spatial perspective.
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