GeoWorld December 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 12 of 32

The Coming Age of Spatial Computing THE ���G��� IN GIS A s a representative of the national mapping science committee, I attended a two-day envisioning workshop, ���From GPS and Virtual Globes to Spatial Computing���2020,��� held at the National Academies��� Keck Center in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10-11, 2012. This is an ambitious workshop organized by the Computing Community Consortium, and its goal was to develop a uni���ed agenda for spatial computing research and development across U.S. government (primarily federal) agencies, industries and universities. The workshop participants represented diverse organizations (e.g., BY DANIEL SUI government, industry and academia), disciplines (e.g., computer science, cognitive science, environmental science, health science, GIScience, geography, etc.) and research topics (e.g., science, service, system and cross-cutting). The workshop, in general, and the topics discussed during the workshop, in particular, deserve attention from the entire geospatial community. The workshop���s most important take-home message, perhaps more than any technical details discussed, is that an interdisciplinary group of experts have reached a consensus for the coming age of spatial computing, which will potentially transform everything we do in the geospatial community. More details about the workshop (including all the position papers) can be found at In this column, I���d like to highlight some of the workshop���s key research agenda items and discuss the implications of spatial computing for GIScience and geography. Spatial Computing Defined Daniel Sui is distinguished professor and chair of geography at The Ohio State University; e-mail: 12 According to the workshop proposal, spatial computing is de���ned as ���a set of ideas and technologies that will transform our lives by understanding the physical world, knowing and communicating our relation to places in that world, and navigating through those places.��� The key idea behind spatial computing is that as we���re marching into the second decade of the 21st century, and the physical world is increasingly computable and linked to an ever-expanding digital world with an explicit spatial and temporal footprint. G E O W O R L D / D E C E M B E R 2 O 1 2 Different from two decades ago, during the late 20th century, humanity is dealing with more spatial and temporal data, qualitatively different from the previous era in terms of ���3 Vs���: Volume (big data), Variety (text, image, video, map, simulations, etc.) and Velocity (real-time data stream/higher temporal resolution). (For more information, visit As a result, spatial computing has to tackle analyses and syntheses across scales (from genetic to global) and domains (from human to the physical world). For our interactions with the physical world, we now have better technologies for indoor and outdoor, on-land and underwater, and physical and virtual data collections. Research Themes Against this broader context, workshop participants outlined multiple themes of research in anticipation of the spatial computing age���s arrival. According to my notes (and fading memory), research challenges in spatial computing can be grouped into the following four categories: 1. Science-driven research questions: 1.1). Develop robust methods for data integration, fusion and synthesis; 1.2). Develop better methods to handle qualitative spatial-temporal data; 1.3). Develop more accurate and effective ways of predicting behaviors of natural and human systems. 2. System-driven research questions: 2.1). Develop effective computational systems that perform in-situ analysis and minimize data movement; 2.2). Recon���gure computing infrastructure that���s capable of handling big spatial-temporal data; 2.3). Develop systems that can better handle spatially augmented reality. 3. Service-driven research questions: 3.1). Focus on human-centered spatial computing; 3.2). Develop context-sensitive spatial computing; 3.3). Develop better human interfaces and spatial cognitive assistance. 4. Cross-cutting research themes: 4.1). Integrate spatial computing with ubiquitous computing; 4.2). Develop trustworthy sensing and monitoring systems for health, environment and transportation systems; 4.3). Develop better approaches and systems for dealing with privacy. Roles to Play Due to space limits, I can���t get into the details of the ambitious research agenda coming out of this workshop, but I hope I���ve provided a glimpse of the

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of GeoWorld - GeoWorld December 2012