The Commission on GeoVisualization of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) was established in 2007 by Gennady Andrienko (Fraunhofer Institute IAIS) and Jason Dykes (City University London) to continue the work of the highly successful Commission on Visualization and Virtual Environments, which was key in establishing the emergent discipline of ‘Geovisualization’ since 1995.
The main focus for the period 2007-2015 was on the use of interactive maps and cartographic techniques to support interactive visual analysis of complex, voluminous and heterogeneous information involving measurements made in space and time.
In 1995 interactive maps were predominantly used by scientists involved in analysis and hypothesis generation in the private realm. Now interactive maps are being widely used for research, education and information consumption through a range of accessible media and technologies in a variety of disciplines and applications scenarios on all sorts of computers in all sorts of places. In this broad and evolving context there is a clear need for the cartographic community to contribute to and learn from the development and use of interactive maps and cartographic techniques that are designed specifically for visual analysis. These interactive maps are being used as flexible spatial interfaces and are being applied to data sets that were either unavailable in 1995 or that could not be visualized through existing technologies and techniques. They are being applied to data sets that are massive, collected in real time by advanced sensors, and not necessarily spatial. They are used increasingly in GIScience and beyond for knowledge building and theory generation, decision support, disaster management, information communication, education and learning.
WORKSHOPS, SPECIAL ISSUES AND RESEARCH AGENDA
During the eight-year period, the commission has organized workshops on a regular basis as a focus and forum for research activity in which possibilities for geovisualization are explored and knowledge about geovisualization is established. Most of the workshops have been attached to major conferences (e.g. ICC, GIScience, AGILE), whilst several others have been organized as a successful stand-alone conference at HafenCity Universität Hamburg. Jochen Schiewe and his team at the g2Lab have established the GeoViz conference series as an innovative, original and inspiring forum for presenting and discussing new ideas in geovisualization. The workshops have resulted in 11 special issues of established journals:
GeoVisual Analytics: Interactivity, Dynamics, and Scale (CaGIS in preparation)
- GeoViz: interactive maps that help people think (IJGIS 2014)
- Geospatial Visual Analytics: Time to Focus on Time (Information Visualization 2014)
- GeoViz – Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modelling (Cartographica 2011)
- Challenging Problems in Geovisual Analytics (JVLC 2011)
- Geospatial Visual Analytics: Focus on Time (IJGIS 2010)
- Geospatial Visual Analytics: Focus on Time (JLBS 2010)
- GeoVisualization and the Digital City (CEUS 2010)
- GeoSpatial Visual Analytics (CaGIS 2009)
- Geovisualization of Dynamics, Movement and Change (Information Visualization 2008)
- Geovisual Analytics for Spatial Decision Support (IJGIS 2007)
The commission prepared several strategic papers associated with these activities and publications, including:
- Geovisual Analytics for Spatial Decision Support. Setting the Research Agenda. DOI 10.1080/13658810701349011
- Geovisualization of Dynamics, Movement and Change: Key Issues and Developing Approaches in Visualization Research. DOI 10.1057/ivs.2008.23
- Space, Time, and Visual Analytics. DOI 10.1080/13658816.2010.508043
- Challenging Problems of Geospatial Visual Analytics. DOI 10.1016/j.jvlc.2011.04.001
These papers received a large number of citations and have helped shape ongoing research in geovisualization.
CARTOGRAPHY & COMPUTER SCIENCE
An important achievement of the commission is the cross-fertilization of geovisualization research activity in broader disciplines within computer science, including information visualization, data mining, and the important developing area of visual analytics. Commission members aim to contribute cartographic knowledge to these disciplines and learn from and take advantage of the knowledge and techniques that they offer. One particular focus has been the influential IEEE VIS conference series (rated A+ by CORE) and associated journal IEEE Transactions in Visualization and Computer Graphics (A). These high-ranking computer science conferences have seen a wide range of papers and presentations from commission members and cartographers more widely since 2007. Cartographic ideas are informing and influenced by visualization – for instance Dykes el al. (2010) used the cartographic back-catalogue to create prototypes and establish guidelines for legends in visualization, whilst Jenny (2012) developed adaptive composite map projections and an interactive interface through which these can be explored.
Citations of cartographic work in the visualization literature are increasing as the cartographic literature influences visualization. Several cartographers are now on the programme committees of VIS and IEEE TVCG and many cartographers review regularly to transfer knowledge of geovisualization to this broader community. Andrienko is now Associate Editor of IEEE TVCG and papers chair of the IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technologies conference (VAST) at VIS – a role previously held by MacEachren. Dykes has twice been papers chair of IEEE Information Visualization (InfoVis) and is now a member of the conference steering committee – the first member of the cartographic community to hold such a position at a major visualization conference. And this works both ways. Senior members of the visualization community are publishing innovative work in cartographic fora (e.g. Isenberg 2013, van Wijk 2008) and developing interesting and informed cartographic techniques in the visualization conferences and journals.
Core research produced by commission members has involved new methods of representation (e.g. Tominski et al. 2012; Wood et al., 2012; Kinkeldey et al., 2014; Beecham & Wood, 2014), knowledge about representation techniques (MacEachren et al., 2012) and models of interaction (e.g. Roth, 2013) and for design (e.g. Lloyd & Dykes, 2011; Goodwin et al., 2013).
EU RESEARCH PROJECTS
Commission members have participated in several EU-funded projects that helped with this activity, including VisMaster: Visual Analytics - Mastering the Information Age (2008-2010), MODAP: Mobility, Data Mining and Privacy (2009-2012), MOVE: Knowledge Discovery for Moving Objects (2009-2013), Energic: Exploring Research into Geospatial Information Crowdsourcing: software and methodologies for harnessing geographic information from the crowd (2013-2017), VALCRI: Visual Analytics for Sense-Making in Criminal Intelligence Analysis (2014-2017). The commission has thus helped to promote the role of geovisualization through these projects and in these disciplines.
COMMISSION ON VISUAL ANALYTICS
In 2015 the commission will change focus and leadership after the ICA elections in Rio. Anthony Robinson (Penn State University) and Urška Demšar (University of St Andrews) will direct the next term of activity. As GIScience enters the big data era, new visual and analytical methods to extract knowledge and value from massive spatio-temporal data sets are in greater demand than ever, and we aim to bring the commission closer to the established and influential field of Visual Analytics. To reflect this focus, we propose clarifying the focus of the commission’s work on visual analytics for spatio-temporal data and to change its title to “Commission on Visual Analytics”. We will promote and support research that will address the challenges associated with new visual analysis of massive spatio-temporal data sources. To help users solve real world problems, we need new and improved approaches that facilitate analytical reasoning through interactive visual interfaces. As it has done for many years already in its previous incarnations, the commission will foster interdisciplinary and international collaborations between potential users of map-oriented visual analytics and researchers, as well as between allied research communities in other disciplines and other ICA Commissions. It will build upon the relationships that have been established with Computer Science.
We plan to do this through three different pathways: events, dissemination and web presence.
Firstly, we will continue to organise annual meetings, workshops and related events, either on our own or via linkages to related ICA commissions and/or organisations from allied fields. We plan to develop the new research agenda for the spatio-temporal visual analytics through organisation of specialised expert workshops. We will co-locate some of these events with international conferences (for example, GIScience, Geocomputation, IEEE VIS, AGILE, and other series), to expand our reach beyond traditional cartographic audiences. As an example, our first two events under the umbrella of the new commission will be the following (organised in collaboration with the Commissions on Cognitive Visualisation, Use and User Issues, and Map Design):
- ICC 2015 Pre-Conference Workshop: Envisioning the Future of Cartographic Research (21 Aug 2015, Curitiba, Brazil)
- The workshop “GeoVIS 2015: Rendering and Cognition with Images and Hybrid Visualizations”, co-located with the ISPRS Geospatial Week 2015 (28 Sept - 2 Oct 2015, La Grande Motte, France).
Secondly, we will promote dissemination of technical and methodological advances in spatio-temporal visual analytics by providing appropriate publication opportunities, such as special issues of journals on topics related to spatio-temporal visual analytics.
For the third pathway, we will maintain a dedicated web presence for the commission in order to reach audiences beyond attendance at in-person meetings. We plan to increase our engagement with members all over the world through social media, and will introduce new forms of distance participation in commission activities, including online seminar series and regular twitter chats.
We encourage those with an interest in understanding, developing and applying interactive analytical cartography to participate in commission activities as cartography contributes to visual analytics.