Home      Log In      Contacts      FAQs      INSTICC Portal

Keynote Lectures

Leveraging User Generated Geoinformation for Humanitarian Aid: Potentials and Challenges
Alexander Zipf, GIScience Research Group, Heidelberg University, Germany

An Innovative Platform for Virtual Underwater Experiences Targeting the Cultural and Tourism Industries
Paraskevi Nomikou, Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Spatial Information Technology: Past, Present, Future
Andrew U. Frank, Vienna University of Technology, Austria


Leveraging User Generated Geoinformation for Humanitarian Aid: Potentials and Challenges

Alexander Zipf
GIScience Research Group, Heidelberg University

Brief Bio
Prof. Dr. Alexander Zipf is chair of GIScience (Geoinformatics) at Heidelberg University (Department of Geography) since late 2009. He is member of the Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR) and founding member of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE). His core research interests include VGI, crowdsouring and analysing of user generated geoinformation for several application domains, especially transportation and humanitarian aid. Currently he is busy establishing the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT)as a non profit organization with the goal of transferring results from basic research into practice ion particular in the three core areas: Smart Mobility, GI for Humanitarian Aid and Big Spatial Data Analytics. Between 2012 -2018 he was speaker of the graduate school “CrowdAnalyser - Spatio-temporal Analysis of User-generated Content“. He is also member of the editorial board of several journals and organized a set of conferences and workshops. 2012-2015 he was regional editor of the ISI Journal Transactions in GIS (Wiley). Currently he is associated editor of the international journal Geo-spatial Information Science (GSIS) by Taylor & Francis (open access). Before coming to Heidelberg he led the Chair of Cartography at Bonn University and earlier was Professor for Applied Computer Science and Geoinformatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany. He has a background in Mathematics and Geography from Heidelberg University and finished his PHD at the European Media Laboratory EML in Heidelberg where he was the first PhD student. There he also conducted further research as a PostDoc for 3 years.

User generated content from the Web has over the last years increasingly become an important data source for humanitarian aid. In that context volunteered geographic information (VGI) is of gaining in relevance for humanitarian aid and disaster response. Especially OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a successful global project adding all kinds of spatial data to an open database that can be used for multiple purposes, e.g. in particular to assist humanitarian aid and support reaching the broader SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Example applications include accessibility analysis & disaster routing for humanitarian aid with, the global climate protection map ( for raising awareness about sustainable living or for data on landuse to name a few. In all of these applications the currentness and general fitness for purpose of the data is of high concern.
But because of the volunteered type of contributions, the quality of the data generated needs always to be investigated. The last years have seen quite some research on the development of intrinsic data quality indicators for OSM in order to supplement conventional extrinsic quality assessment methods. The latter rely on additional authoritative or ground truth data which is often not available, esp. in less developed countries or for very specific information needs in disaster management. But only a few of those intrisic VGI quality analysis measures and methods have been integrated into an open toolbox and framework yet. Current work aims at better assessing the fitness for purpose of the OSM data for specific application domains, esp. for humanitarian aid & disaster response. I wil introduce the OSM History Analytics platform which aims at providing means of analyzing contributions to OSM over time since the beginning of the project in 2004 in an open & reproducible way on a global scale based on big data technologies and cloud infrastructures. Further research tries to develop deep learning methods to automatically improve OSM using remote sensing images in combination with data from mobile humanitarian crowdsourcing apps like This shows also that methods from remote sensing, GIScience and general computer science are more and more converging and are being combined for developing meaningful workflows. In the talk I will discuss the current status, future potential and issues of those developments.



An Innovative Platform for Virtual Underwater Experiences Targeting the Cultural and Tourism Industries

Paraskevi Nomikou
Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Brief Bio
Paraskevi Nomikou is an Assistant Professor at the Dep. of Geology and Geoenvironment of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). She is a marine geologist who studies the morphology of underwater volcanoes with extensive experience in marine volcanic and seafloor extruding processes. She has participated in more than 80 oceanographic cruises that focused on submarine volcanism, mud volcanoes, landslides and slope stability and the exploration of seafloor mineral deposits. More recently, she has played a leading role in the evaluation of the potential hazards associated with renewed volcanic activity at Santorini volcano in Greece. Her studies on underwater volcano areas where new earthquakes and deformations have been taking place are critical to the ongoing evaluation of future eruption scenarios. She has also been involved in the study of economically important seafloor mineral deposits within the crater of the submarine volcano Kolumbo, off the coast of Santorini. In 2013 and 2018 she was involved in expeditions to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, mapping the sea floor of ocean core complexes and in 2015 in the Azores Platea, mapping the offshore volcanoes. In 2018 she was involved in R/V Falkor expedition in the coastal zone of Costa Rica (East Pacific Ocean). She effectively transfers her enthusiasm for sea floor exploration using innovative marine technologies to younger students through her educational lectures at the university creating a high profile role model for young women thinking of pursuing careers in oceanography. She has been participated in numerous International projects focused on seafloor mapping and volcanoes. The total number of citations in international journals is 1076 with h index 19 in 645 Cited Documents (December 2019) according to Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED) ?a? Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). According to Google Scholar the h-index: 24 and i10-index: 52. In addition, having participated in educational documentary films (Discovery Channel, National Geographic, History channel etc) has given her the opportunity to wade into the transmission of scientific knowledge to the citizens.

Although, the underwater environment is of great scientific interest regarding all fields of marine research, it has not been exploited broadly yet for cultural and tourism purposes. At the same time, technology in the fields of virtual and augmented reality has undergone considerable development by providing technical solutions for environments that their modelling has been problematic or non-operational for a variety of spatial scales. To this end, we report on our recent progress in developing an integrated interactive framework for exploring natural (augmented reality) and virtual (virtual reality) environments in regions of touristic and environmental interest (eg. Submerged cities, shipwrecks, sunken harbors and diving parks, marine parks etc.) in order to enrich travel experience and promote specific and diverse forms of tourism. In particular, the designed solution combines high-resolution data acquired and processed with state-of-the-art technologies (swath mapping systems, underwater vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles) so as to create a synthetic topographic relief basemap and to analyze all its particular geomorphological and ecological structures as well as anthropogenic interventions. Moreover, through a set of special designed tools for multimedia content management, it is possible to write narrative scenarios and produce interactive experiences in virtual reality. In this way, users are able to assimilate to real (or even imaginary) environments through different media (e.g., tablets, virtual reality glasses, etc.). The integration of research knowledge into interactive narrative systems will furthermore result into the development of innovative research and teaching products to promote the complex, challenging, magnificent underwater environment and also to attract tourists of general or special interest. The developed digital platform, named VIRTUALDIVER, will enable users to navigate virtually in environments accessible only by underwater vehicles and in cost-intensive, research and scientific missions and make known the underwater cultural heritage.



Spatial Information Technology: Past, Present, Future

Andrew U. Frank
Vienna University of Technology

Brief Bio
Andrew U. Frank received 1978 a diploma in engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland and a Dr. sc.techn. (the equivalent of a Ph.D. at ETH) from the same institute in 1982. After his doctoral studies, Dr. Frank became professor of Land Information Studies in the Department of Surveying Engineering at the University of Maine. He was co-founder and later head of the Maine branch of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA), a research center funded by the National Science Foundation. In this period, he adviced a number of Ph.D.s (e.g. Max Egenhofer, Yvan Bedard). In 1991 Prof. Frank joined the Technical University of Vienna as Professor for Geoinformation, where he build an active research group from which many successful GIS researchers emerged (e.g. Werner Kuhn, Martin Raubal, Sabine Timpf, Stephan Winter). He taught courses in spatial information systems, representation of geometric data, design of Geographic Information Systems for administration and business, and economic and administrative strategies for the introduction of GIS. Since 1980 Dr. Frank has published widely on database management systems for GIS, in particular on spatial access methods and spatial query languages. In 1990, he published a book on ‘Cognitive and Linguistic Aspects of Geographic Space’ with David Mark and in 1996 ‘Geographic Objects with Indeterminate Boundaries’ with Peter Burrough. He edited ‘Life and Motion of Socio-Economic Units’ together with Jonathan Raper and Jean-Paul Cheylan (published 1991). He organized the Conference on Spatial Theory (COSIT) in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1997, with proceedings published by Springer-Verlag in the Series Lecture Notes in Computer Science. His research group focused later on problems of spatial cognition, user interfaces for GIS, and the economic and organizational aspects of the collection, management and use of geographic information, work which was supported by industry and research foundations. He was involved in several research projects of the European Commission. 1995 he completed a project for the organization of an international post-graduate course in GIS. His homepage lists over 360 publications and Google scholar counts over than 11,000 references to his publications. He is member of the Austrian Geodetic Commission and a Corresponding Member of the German Geodetic Commission. In 2004 he was awarded the "Grosses Silbernes Ehrenzeichen" (Commander´s Cross II-nd class) by the President of the Republic Austria for his contribution. He received in 2011 a honorary doctorate from University of Debrecen (Hungary). Dr. Andrew U. Frank is now emeritus professor from Technical University Vienna and Prof. Ioannis Giannopoulos has become his successor.

Since the end of 1977, when I have been asked to write my dissertation on the then emergent spatial information technology, I have followed the most astonishing technical development of Geographic Information Systems and the inclusion of spatial information technology in nearly all forms of IT: spatial database technology, GPS, the web, mobile smart phones, ... In summary: ubiquitous computing and connectivity.
Roughly every 10 years, I have published on trends in GIS technologies and wondered often what makes a technology to become a smashing commercial successes: Google maps perhaps the most spectacular, but by far not the only one.
The talk will discuss briefly the technology advances accumulated the past 40 years responsible for the current commercial successes and when and why they became successes. I will mention a few instructive failures and generalize the social, economical and technical preconditions for commercial success.
My experience leads me to believe that success is possible as a combination of three points:
- firstly, a fundamental human need is at the core - e.g. people need to navigate in the world and must avoid to get lost;
- secondly, a cost-effective technical mean to satisfy this need is available and,
- thirdly, a business-opportunity is identified.
For example, computer mapping was available since early 1990, but became dominant only when the technical solution combining GPS with smartphones were widely available and "payment" by clients accepting advertisement a sufficient form of compensation for the service.
The conclusion describes a few technologies which I assume could be ready for the commercial limelight, and review critically the extrapolations in the experience of the disruption of the economic situation by the corona-virus epidemic which demonstrates some of the drawbacks of monopoly solutions.