Ryerson Geographers at AAG 2017

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) annual meeting is one of the largest and most inspiring gathering of geographers and affiliated researchers. Faculty and graduate students from the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies will be presenting their innovative applied/applicable research in Boston next week. Here’s what they are up to:

The Cottage Effect: Investigating Spatial Bias in Citizen Science Using a Comparative Analysis

is part of the Paper Session:
Emerging Field Methods for Environmental Perceptions and Behavior

scheduled on Wednesday, 4/5/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Edward Evan Millar, MA* – Ryerson University
Emily Hazell, MSA* – Ryerson University

Strengths and Weaknesses of Index-based Assessments of Sustainable Landscape Function

is part of the Paper Session:
Land Systems and Sustainability Science

scheduled on Wednesday, 4/5/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Richard Ross Shaker, M.Sc., Ph.D.* – Ryerson University

Thriving or merely surviving? The importance of solar radiation access to urban tree vitality

is part of the Paper Session:
Urban Forestry and Arboriculture

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Andrew A Millward, PhD* – Ryerson University, Geography and Environmental Studies
Michael Grosu, BA – Ryerson Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group
Christopher Scarpone, MSc – Ryerson Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group

From invader to occupier: application of dendrochronology and spatial modelling to investigate the spatio-temporal dynamics of Norway maple colonization of an urban park

is part of the Paper Session:
Urban Forestry and Arboriculture

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Vadim Sabetski, MSA* – Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University
Andrew A Millward, PhD – Ryerson University, Geography and Environmental Studies

Talk of the Town: An Equity Focused Analysis of “Blurry” Media Categories to Reveal Expressed and Hidden Perspectives on Neighbourhood Gentrification

is part of the Paper Session:
Justice and equity in the transformation of urban systems 1

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Sara Edge, PhD* – Ryerson University
Emma Beattie – Ryerson University

Poster #072: Scenario analysis: Modelling the impact of urban vegetation on levels of noise annoyance in city of Toronto

is part of the Poster Session:
GIS and Technology Poster Session

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Desislava Stefanova* – Ryerson University
Tor Oiamo, PhD – Ryerson University

Poster #073: Assessing Urban Health Simulation Outcomes Through Concentration Response Functions at the Census Tract Level

is part of the Poster Session:
GIS and Technology Poster Session

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Danielle C.L. Sadakhom* – Ryerson University
Tor Oiamo , P.h.D – Ryerson University

Driving Students to School and the Impact on Local Air Pollution

is part of the Paper Session:
Symposium on Human Dynamics in Smart and Connected Communities: Smart Cities and Urban Computing 6

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 10:00 AM.

Matthew Adams* – Ryerson University
Weeberb Requia Junior – McMaster University

From gut-feel to spatial big data: exploring the boundaries of retail location decision-making

is part of the Paper Session:
Location Intelligence: Business Geography Research and Applications

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 10:00 AM.

Joseph Aversa* – Ryerson University
Tony Hernandez, PhD – Ryerson University

The Corporatization of Small Scale Retail in Canada

is part of the Paper Session:
Location Intelligence: Business Geography Research and Applications

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 10:00 AM.

Tony Hernandez* – Ryerson University
Maurice Yeates – Ryerson University
Christopher Daniel – Ryerson University

Environmental noise and justice in Toronto, Canada: in search of equitable mitigation strategies

is part of the Paper Session:
Justice and equity in the transformation of urban systems 2

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 10:00 AM.

Tor Oiamo, PhD* – Ryerson University

A Local Spatial Market for Upscale Retail in Canada?

is part of the Paper Session:
Retail Geography

scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017 at 13:20 PM.

Stephen J. Swales* – Ryerson University
K. Wayne Forsythe – Ryerson University

Location and Temporal-Spatial Understanding of Canadian Inventions: 1991-2016.

is part of the Paper Session:
Urban Economies and the Ordinary Life C: Cities and Industry

scheduled on Friday, 4/7/2017 at 13:20 PM.

Brian Ceh* – Ryerson University
Matthew Abraham – Ryerson University
David Kosior – Ryerson University

Integration, healthcare and well-being: a case study of Sri Lankan immigrants in Toronto, Canada

is part of the Paper Session:
Urban health and well-being

scheduled on Saturday, 4/8/2017 at 10:00 AM.

Lu Wang* – Ryerson University
Anne Christian – Ryerson University

A Comparative Analysis of Nanjing and Toronto for Their Respective Urban Planning Systems

is part of the Paper Session:
Regional Development and Urban Planning Series II (China)

scheduled on Saturday, 4/8/2017 at 10:00 AM.

Shuguang Wang* – Ryerson University
Shan Yang – Nanjing Normal University

Sanctuary Practices in International Perspective

is part of the Paper Session:
Rescaling Migration, Citizenship, and Rights I: Sanctuary Practices

scheduled on Sunday, 4/9/2017 at 8:00 AM.

Harald Bauder* – Ryerson University

Encouraging urban forest stewardship through digital storytelling

is part of the Paper Session:
Trees in the City 2: Urban Forest Stewardship, Policy and Program Impacts

scheduled on Saturday, 4/8/2017 at 13:20 PM.

Amber Grant, MASc Candidate* – Environmental Applied Science & Management and Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University
Andrew A Millward, PhD – Ryerson University, Geography and Environmental Studies
Sara Edge, PhD – Ryerson University, Geography and Environmental Studies

Conference Web site: http://www.aag.org/annualmeeting

Program search and abstracts: http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/index.cfm?mtgID=63

The above list does not include roles as session organizer, session chair, or panelist, which you will find detailed in the conference program.

Geography – The Secret Sauce of Data Analytics

For GIS Day 2016, the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies joined forces with Environics Analytics, “Canada’s premier marketing and analytical services company”. This year’s Environics Analytics User Conference on November 16 attracted 675 data analysts from 350 organizations and featured 16 client presentations, numerous software demos, and one great party!

eauc2016-alliwitz-secret-sauce eauc2016-alliwitz-tweet-tps-ea-geo

The core role of Geography and location in data analytics was emphasized by many presenters. Environics Analytics founder and president, @statslady Jan Kestle, is quoted with identifying “Geography as the secret sauce” that integrates data for advanced analytics. The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University received shout-outs and accolades for training the next generation of data analysts through its BA in Geographic Analysis and MSA in Spatial Analysis programs.

eauc2016-ryersongeo-maps4 eauc2016-alliwitz-msa-students3

We joined the Environics Analytics User Conference with a GIS Day-themed display of geovisualization projects from the MSA cartography course and with a 15-year reunion to celebrate the 2001 class of MSA graduates, the first-ever group of students receiving a graduate degree from Ryerson University. Since then, over 300 students have obtained the MSA degree and joined the ranks of data analysts, who shape the regional economy, public services, and environment.

A timeline of all conference-related tweets can be found at https://storify.com/ClausRinner/geography-the-secret-sauce-of-data-analytics. Thank you, Allison Urowitz (@alliwitz), for the pertinent tweets reproduced above.

Welcome Home, GIS Professionals – Ryerson Geography at URISA’s 54th Annual Conference

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) held its first conference on “First Annual Conference on Urban Planning Information Systems and Programs” in 1963 at the University of Southern California. Now dubbed “GIS-Pro”, the conference and URISA as an organization are the preeminent destinations for exchange of best-practices among Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals. This year, Canada, the birth place of GIS, welcomed URISA back for its 54th annual conference held at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle hotel from Oct 31-Nov 3, 2016.

The conference drew over 350 participants, with some 200 from Canada (including 150 from Ontario) and most of the remainder from the United States. Representatives from Australia, Barbados, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom rounded out the pre-conference attendee list. URISA is greatly engaged in the professional development of its members, and consequently, over 100 participants held the GISP designation. URISA is a founding member of the GIS Certification Institute, which awards the “GISP” status and was an exhibitor and workshop organizer at the conference. URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet of young geospatial professionals, URISA’s GISCorps of worldwide GIS volunteers, its GIS Management Institute, and its regional chapters were all involved in organizing the conference. In one of the conference highlights, Esri Canada founder and president Alex Miller was inducted to the URISA GIS Hall of Fame. More information about URISA can be found at http://www.urisa.org/main/about-us/.

Title slide - 3D-printed geography

Ryerson’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies attended the conference with three speakers and ten student volunteers. In the unusual format of a luncheon presentation and discussion table (https://gispro2016.sched.org/event/6nuR/hosted-lunch-vendor-spark-lunch-presentations-roundtable-discussions), I presented work with Dr. Claire Oswald on “3D-Printed Geography for Education, Outreach, and More?” This was a summary of one-and-a-half years of 3D-printing of terrain models and cityscapes, focusing on the processing of geospatial data into 3D printer-compliant format, and on the reception of this project among potential users such as conservation authorities. Our slides are available at http://gis.blog.ryerson.ca/files/2016/11/3d-printed-geographies_urisa-gispro2016.pdf. A previous review of the project is available at https://storify.com/ClausRinner/3d-printed-geographies-one-year-in.

My former graduate students Justin Pierre and Richard Wen had signed up for a session on open-source geospatial software (https://gispro2016.sched.org/event/6nv7/free-puppies-and-solutions-open-source-and-commercial-software). Justin presented on his Master of Spatial Analysis (MSA) major research paper “Developing an Argumentation Platform in an Open Source Stack”. His map-based discussion forum on Toronto’s bike lane network runs on Ryerson’s cloud at https://cartoforum.com/bikelanes/, albeit not always as reliably as we wish. Richard outlined his MSA thesis research on “Using Open Source Python Packages for Machine Learning on Vector Geodata”. He applied the “random forest” algorithm to the task of detecting outliers in OpenStreetMap data, with the goal of developing tools for semi-automated data input and quality control in volunteered geographic data. Richard’s code and thesis are available at https://github.com/rrwen/msa-thesis. Both of these student were part of the Geothink SSHRC Parternship Grant, http://geothink.ca/, which supported their conference participation.

RyersonGeo booth with AR-sandbox at GIS-Pro2016

@RyersonGeo also had a booth in the GIS-Pro 2016 exhibit hall. While conference participants were interested in the Department’s programs and research expertise, the main attraction of our booth was an augmented-reality (AR) sandbox. The sandbox was built, set up, and staffed by our collaborators in the GIS team at the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA – http://cloca.ca/). CLOCA staff had attended Dr. Oswald’s GeovisUW workshop (https://storify.com/ClausRinner/geovisuw-workshop-ryersongeo) in June 2016 and were inspired by the visit of Ryerson’s Digital Media Experience Lab, which demo’ed an AR sandbox. In subsequent discussions about public outreach around surface- and groundwater protection, we proceeded with 3D-prining of CLOCA’s watershed geography and terrain, while CLOCA staff endeavoured to build the sandbox. The two displays were used by CLOCA at the 2016 Durham Children’s Groundwater Festival in late September. At the GIS-Pro 2016 conference, some participants were wondering about combining the two technologies, while others were interested in using the sandbox to model real-world terrain and simulating flooding. While accurate modeling of terrain and water flow may prove difficult, we are indeed planning to test the sandbox with semi-realistic scenarios.

CLOCA's AR-sandbox at GIS-Pro2016

In conclusion, applied GIS researchers and practicing GIS professionals are a friendly, close-knit group. The conference volunteers from our BA in Geographic Analysis, BA in Environment and Urban Sustainability, and MSA in Spatial Analysis programs were given a lot of free time and thoroughly enjoyed the conference. They were truly impressed by the large number and variation in GIS applications presented, and left the conference with a greater sense for the professional community. For me, the conference confirmed that research and development of GIS should be led by geographers, within Geography departments, as we are best positioned to understand the professional end-user’s needs, yet also have the technical expertise, at least @RyersonGeo, to contribute to GIS R&D.

Leveraging Open Data: International Perspectives Presented at URISA’s GIS-Pro 2016 Conference

Guest post by Sarah Greene (@SarahAGreene), Master of Spatial Analysis (MSA) candidate, Ryerson University

This past week, URISA held its 54th annual GIS-Pro conference in Toronto, bringing together GIS professionals and businesses from around the world. The conference provided many interesting sessions including one focused entirely on open data. This session, titled “Leveraging Open Data” (https://gispro2016.sched.org/event/6nun/leveraging-open-data), included government as well as private sector perspectives.

The session began with a presentation from the Government of North Carolina, discussing the importance of metadata. They are currently collaborating with a number of agencies to create and share a metadata profile to help others open up their data and understand how to implement the standards suggested. They have produced a living document which can be accessed through their webpage http://nconemap.com/DiscoverGetData/Metadata.aspx.

The next speaker at the session represented Pitkin County in Colorado. They represent an open data success story with a number of great resources available for download on their website including high quality aerial imagery. An important aspect to their open data project was their engagement with their local community to understand what data should be opened, and then marketing those datasets which were released.

The Government of Ontario was also present as this session, presenting on the current status of open data for the province. The Ontario Government promotes an Open by Default approach and currently has over 500 datasets from 49 agencies available to download through their portal at https://www.ontario.ca/search/data-catalogue?sort=asc. They are working towards continuing to increase their open datasets available.

A presentation by MapYourProperty (http://mapyourproperty.com/) provided an interesting perspective from the private sector using open data to successfully run their business. They heavily depend on visualizing open data to provide a web-based mapping application for the planning and real estate community to search properties, map zoning information and create a due diligence report based on the information found. This is one example of many that exist in the private sector of open data helping build new companies, or help existing companies thrive.

Lastly, a representative from Esri Canada’s (http://esri.ca/) BC office wrapped up the session reminding us all of the importance of opening data. This included highlighting the seemingly endless benefits to open data, including providing information to help make decisions, supporting innovation, creating smart cities and building connections. Of course, open data is big business for Esri too, with the addition of ArcGIS Open Data as a hosted open data catalog to the ArcGIS Online platform.

This session showcased some great initiatives taking place in Canada and the United States that are proving the importance of opening up data and how this can be done successfully. It is exciting to see what has been taking place locally and internationally and it will be even more exciting to see what happens in the future, as both geospatial and a-spatial data products continue to become more openly available.

In Search of the Mother of GIS?

My thoughts on Panel Session: 1475 Gender & GIScience, at AAG 2016.

Guest post by Dr. Victoria Fast (@vvfast)

Roger Tomlinson has passed, and Mike Goodchild is in (a very active) retirement. So, this panel made me consider: are we searching for a new father of GIS? In fact, do we need a father of GIS? Would a mother of GIS balance the gender scales? It seems all disciplines need leaders, and the powerful panellists in this session—populated with many of my mentors and leaders in the field, including Renee Sieber, Nadine Schuurman, Sarah Elwood, Agnieszka Leszczynski, Britta Ricker, and Matthew Wilson—demonstrates that we indeed have strong leadership in GIScience. This mostly female panel is a reminder that, in fact, there are many influential female scholars. But do we hear these influences? Do we hear them equally? Have we heard them in the past? Based on the discussion in this session, the answer in overwhelmingly ‘no’.

The discussion in this session revolved around the ways in which our science has been heavily masculinized, epitomized by the commonly accepted ‘Father of GIS’ notion. The discipline has been dominated by all-male panels, focused on programming and physical science, subdued critical or theoretical work, and “straight up misogyny in GIScience” (Renee Sieber’s words). Female scholars are less frequently cited, underrepresented as researchers in the field, and almost absent in the representation of the history of the discipline.

This made me think of deep-rooted masculinization I have faced in my GIS journey, as a student and now as an educator. Issues related to working in the ‘old boys club’ aside, masculinization was especially predominant when I taught a second year Cartography course. The textbook “Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization” contains a chapter of the History of Cartography. Without sounding ‘…ist’ myself, the chapter largely recognized the contribution of older, white males. I didn’t feel comfortable teaching my students that narrow history of Cartography, so instead went looking for my own resources to populate a ‘History of Cartography’ lecture.

I was delightfully surprised that there are so many resources available that show multi-faceted sides of cartography (and GISci more broadly). These perspectives and resources are often shared via disparate sources in journal articles, blogs, and discussion forums. For example, Monica Stephens has a great publication on Gender and the Geoweb in Geojournal [2013, 78(6)]. City Labs also has a great series on the Hidden Histories of Maps Made by Women (thanks for sharing Alan McConchie): http://www.citylab.com/design/2016/03/women-in-cartography-early-north-america/471609/. Unfortunately, they refer to it as the “little seen contributions to cartography”, but panels like this help address that while they’re little seen, they are highly impactful contributions. Over time, these blog posts, journal articles, and conference panels will (hopefully) amass and make their way to more formalized forms of textbook knowledge. (There was a great deal of interest by those attending this session in a published version of these compiled resources. Given the overwhelming response, I’m considering compiling a manuscript… stay tuned.)

I recognize that it is impossible to undo the deep-rooted masculinization that has persisted in GIScience. However, we can change how we address it moving forward. Let’s recognize that we don’t need a father (or mother) of GIS; we need leaders, visionaries, and mentors of all shapes, sizes, colours, backgrounds, and genders. I challenge all those who are GI Professionals in training to look for the untold story, the hidden history of GIS, and the little-seen influences on the discipline. I challenge those who teach GIS to go beyond the ‘truth’ presented in the textbooks. And lastly, I want to conclude by saying thank you to the powerful female mentors on this panel and ones not represented here; mentors who transcend the need for a ‘Mother of GIS’.

Ryerson Geographers at AAG 2016

Another year has passed, and another annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) is about to start in San Francisco this week. The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson is sending its usual strong complement to AAG 2016, although the writer of these lines is sadly staying behind in a cold and rainy Toronto.

Contributions from @RyersonGeo have a traditional focus in Business Geography, with additional abstracts in the areas of urban forest, population health, migration & settlement, local food, renewable energy, and sustainability science. In approximate chronological order of presentation:

In addition to these contributions, Dr. Hernandez also serves as chair, introducer, organizer, and/or panelist of sessions on

  • BGSG Career Achievement Award: A Conversation with Ken Smith
  • Connecting Practitioners and Students – Advice on Career Development in the Field of Location Intelligence
  • Location Intelligence Trends in the Contemporary Omni-channel Retail Marketplace
  • Retail and Business Geography I & II

Dr. Millward also serves as chair of the session on “Arboriculture and Urban Forestry” and Dr. Steenberg is a panelist in the session entitled “Disrupt Geo 1: new ideas from the front lines of maps, mobile, and big data”.

We wish our colleagues and all participants a productive and enjoyable AAG 2016!

GIS Day 2015 at Ryerson – A Showcase of Geographic Information System Research and Applications

Ryerson students, faculty, staff, and the local community are invited to explore and celebrate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) research and applications. Keynote presentations will outline the pervasive use of geospatial data analysis and mapping in business, municipal government, and environmental applications. Research posters, software demos, and course projects will further illustrate the benefits of GIS across all sectors of society.

Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Time: 1:00pm-5:00pm
Location: Library Building, 4th Floor, LIB-489 (enter at 350 Victoria Street, proceed to 2nd floor, and take elevators inside the library to 4th floor)

Tentative schedule:

  • 1:00 Soft kick-off, posters & demos
  • 1:25 Welcome
  • 1:30-2:00 Dr. Namrata Shrestha, Senior Landscape Ecologist, Toronto & Region Conservation Authority
  • 2:00-2:30 posters & demos
  • 2:30-3:00 Andrew Lyszkiewicz, Program Manager, Information & Technology Division, City of Toronto
  • 3:00-3:30 posters & demos
  • 3:30-4:00 Matthew Cole, Manager, Business Geomatics, and William Davis, Cartographer and Data Analyst, The Toronto Star
  • 4:00 GIS Day cake!
  • 5:00 End

GIS Day is a global event under the motto “Discovering the World through GIS”. It takes place during National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week, which in 2015 is themed “Explore! The Power of Maps”, and aligns with the United Nations-supported International Map Year 2015-2016.

Event co-hosted by the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies and the Geospatial Map & Data Centre. Coffee/tea and snacks provided throughout the afternoon. Contact: Dr. Claus Rinner

The @RyersonGeo Team at CAG 2015

Blog post by K.W.Forsythe and C.Rinner

The Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) 2015 Annual Meeting is held at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver Campus) from June 1-5. A good number of faculty and students from Ryerson’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies are taking part. The papers and sessions (in chronological order) are as follows, with the first one already running at the time of posting this list:

1) Tuesday June 2, 8:30 – Soil and Sediment Analysis (Harbour Centre 2050, Alan and Margaret Eyre Boardroom) Chair: Terence Day

Christine J. Valancius, K. Wayne Forsythe, Ryerson University; Chris H. Marvin, Environment Canada; James P. Watt*, CH2M
Using Geovisualization and Bathymetry to Assess Lead Sediment Contamination in Lake St. Clair

2) Tuesday June 2, 1:30 (Until 5.00 pm) – Poster Session 1 – The Arctic, Tourism, Conservation (Wosk Centre for Dialogue 320 Strategy Room)

Alexis Robinson, David Atkinson, Ryerson University
Spatially explicit hydrological model evaluation for a High Arctic watershed

3) Wednesday June 3, 8:30 – Vegetation Monitoring (Harbour Centre 2050, Alan and Margaret Eyre Board Room) Chair: Zhaoqin Li

Vadim Sabetski, Andrew A. Millward, Ryerson University
Virtual Daylighting: Enhancing Arboriculture Consulting Practices Through Tree Root Location with Ground‐Penetrating Radar

4) Friday June 5, 10:30 – Geographies of Crime 2 (Wosk Centre for Dialogue 420, Strategy Room) Special Session Organizers: Martin Andresen and Katherine Wuschke, Simon Fraser University, Chair: Martin Andresen

Shuguang Wang, Jarrett Moore*, Ryerson University
A GIS‐assisted analysis of journey‐to‐crime and activity space of offenders

Shannon Strelioff, Lu Wang, Ryerson University
Assessing the Predictive Power of Risk Terrain Modeling with respect to Street Level Robbery in the Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario

5) Friday June 5. 10:30 – Sustainability and Land Classification Issues (Wosk Centre for Dialogue 470, Hamber Foundation Board Room) Chair: Scott Slocombe

Kaylin Chin, Richard R. Shaker, Ryerson University
Evaluating patterns of sustainability across the contiguous United States: Application of the United Nation’s Indicators of Sustainable Development Report

6) Friday June 5, 10:30 – Volunteered Geographical Information and the City: Sensing urban wellness with user‐generated data (Harbour Centre 2200, RBC Dominion Securities Meeting Room) Organizers: Colin Robertson, Wilfrid Laurier University, Rob Feick, University of Waterloo, Chairs: Colin Robertson and Rob Feick

Victoria Fast, Claus Rinner, Ryerson University
Putting place back into food: Durham’s local food VGI system

7) Friday June 5, 1:30 – “Bringing Housing Back In”: Immigrant Housing and Settlement Experiences in Canadian Cities (Wosk Centre for Dialogue 470, Hamber Foundation Board Room) Sponsorship: Diversity, Migration, Ethnicity and Race Study Group, Organizers of Special Session: Sutama Ghosh, Ryerson University; Carlos Texeira, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Chair: Sutama Ghosh

Sutama Ghosh, Ryerson University
Home as a Paradoxical Space: Experiences of Professional South Asian Mothers in Toronto

* denotes alumni co-authors

These presentations represent ongoing research in Geography, Environmental Studies, and GIScience, and involve students and alumni from our Geographic Analysis and Master of Spatial Analysis (MSA) programs in addition to a student in the PhD in Environmental Applied Science and Management. See you all in Vancouver!


My takeaways from AAG 2015

The 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Chicago is long gone – time for a summary of key lessons and notable ideas taken home from three high-energy conference days.

Choosing which sessions to attend, was the first major challenge, as there were over ninety (90!) parallel sessions scheduled in many time slots. I put my program together based on presentations by Ryerson colleagues and students (https://gis.blog.ryerson.ca/2015/04/17/ryerson-geographers-at-aag-2015/) and those given by colleagues and students of the Geothink project (http://geothink.ca/american-associaton-of-geographers-aag-2015-annual-meeting-geothink-program-guide/), as well as by looking through the presenter list and finding sessions sponsored by select AAG specialty groups (notably GIScience and Cartography). Abstracts for the presentations mentioned in this blog can be found via the “preliminary” conference program at http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/index.cfm?mtgID=60.

Upon arrival, I was impressed by the size and wealth of the industrial and transportation infrastructure in Chicago as well as the volume of the central business district, as seen from the airport train and when walking around in the downtown core.

aag-photo1 aag-photo3

My conference started on Wednesday, 22 April 2015, with Session 2186 “Cartography in and out of the Classroom: Current Educational Practices“. In a diverse set of presentations, Pontus Hennerdal from Stockholm University presented an experiment with a golf-like computer game played on a Mercator-projected world map to help children understand map projections. Pontus also referred to the issue of “world map continuity” using an animated film that is available on his homepage at http://www.su.se/profiles/poer5337-1.188256. In the second presentation, Jeff Howarth from Middlebury College assessed the relationship between spatial thinking skills of students and their ability to learn GIS. This research was motivated by an anonymous student comment about a perceived split of GIS classes into those students who “get it” vs. those who don’t. Jeff notes that spatial thinking along with skills in orientation, visualization, and a sense of direction sets students up for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses, including GIS. Next was Cindy Brewer, Head of the Department of Geography at Penn State University, with an overview of additions and changes to the 2nd edition of her Esri Press book “Designing Better Maps”. The fourth presentation was given by David Fairbairn of Newcastle, Chair of the Commission on Education and Training of the International Cartographic Association. David examined the accreditation of cartography-related programs of study globally, and somewhat surprisingly, reported his conclusion that cartography may not be considered a profession and accreditation would bring more disadvantages (incl. management, liability, barriers to progress) than benefits to the discipline. Finally, Kenneth Field of Esri took the stage to discuss perceptions and misconceptions of cartography and the cartographer. These include the rejection of the “map police” when trained cartographers dare to criticize the “exploratory playful” maps created by some of today’s map-makers (see my post at http://gis.blog.ryerson.ca/2015/04/04/about-quick-service-mapping-and-lines-in-the-sand/).

A large part of the remainder of Wednesday was spent in a series of sessions on “Looking Backwards and Forwards in Participatory GIS“. Of particular note the presentations by Renee Sieber, professor of many things at McGill and leader of the Geothink SSHRC Partnership Grant (http://www.geothink.ca), and Mike McCall, senior researcher at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Renee spoke thought-provokingly, as usual, about “frictionless civic participation”. She observes how ever easier-to-use crowdsourcing tools are reducing government-citizen interactions to customer relationships, and participation is becoming a product being delivered efficiently, rather than a democratic process that engages citizens in a meaningful way. Mike spoke about the development of Participatory GIS (PGIS) in times of volunteered geographic information (VGI) and crowdsourcing, arguing to operationalize VGI within PGIS. The session also included a brief discussion among members of the audience and presenters about the need for base maps or imagery as a backdrop for PGIS – an interesting question, as my students and I are arguing that “seed contents” will help generate meaningful discussion, thus going even beyond including just a base map. Finally, two thoughts brought forward by Muki Haklay of University College London: Given the “GIS chauffeurs” of early-day PGIS projects, he asked whether we continue to need such facilitators in times of Renee Sieber’s frictionless participation? And, he observed that the power of a printed map brought to a community development meeting is still uncontestable. Muki’s extensive raw notes from the AAG conference can be found on his blog at https://povesham.wordpress.com/.

In the afternoon, I dropped in to Session 2478, which celebrated David Huff’s contribution to applied geography and business. My colleague Tony Hernandez chaired and co-organized the session, in which Tony Lea, Senior VP Research of Toronto-based Environics Analytics and instructor in our Master of Spatial Analysis (MSA) program, and other business geographers paid tribute to the Huff model for predicting consumers’ spatial behaviour (such as the probability of patronizing specific store locations). Members of the Huff family were also present to remember the man behind the model, who passed away in Summer 2014. A written tribute by Tony Lea can be found at http://www.environicsanalytics.ca/footer/news/2014/09/04/a-tribute-to-david-huff-the-man-and-the-model.

Also on my agenda was a trip to the AAG vendor expo, where I was pleased to see my book – “Multicriteria Decision Analysis in Geographic Information Science” – in the Springer booth!


Thursday, 23 April 2015, began with an 8am session on “Spatial Big Data and Everyday Life“. In a mixed bag of presentations, Till Straube of Goethe University in Frankfurt asked “Where is Big Data?”; Birmingham’s Agnieszka Leszczynski argued that online users are more concerned with controlling their personal location data than with how they are ultimately used; Kentucky’s Matt Wilson showed select examples from half a century of animated maps that span the boundary between data visualization and art; Monica Stephens of the University at Buffalo discussed the rural exclusions of crowdsourced big data and characterized Wikipedia articles about rural towns in the US as Mad Libs based on Census information; and finally, Edinburgh’s Chris Speed conducted an IoT self test, in which he examined the impact of an Internet-connected toilet paper holder on family dynamics…

The remainder of Thursday was devoted to CyberGIS and new directions in mapping. The panel on “Frontiers in CyberGIS Education” was very interesting in that many of the challenges reported in teaching CyberGIS really are persistent challenges in teaching plain-old GIS. For example, panelists Tim Nyerges, Wenwen Li, Patricia Carbajalas, Dan Goldberg, and Britta Ricker noted the difficulty of getting undergraduate students to take more than one or two consecutive GIS courses; the challenge of teaching advanced GIS concepts such as enterprise GIS and CyberGIS (which I understand to mean GIS-as-a-service); and the nature of Geography as a “discovery major”, i.e. a program that attracts advanced students who are struggling in their original subjects. One of the concluding comments from the CyberGIS panel was a call to develop interdisciplinary, data-centred program – ASU’s GIScience program was named as an example.

Next, I caught the first of two panels on “New Directions in Mapping“, organized by Stamen’s Alan McConchie, Britta Ricker of U Washington at Tacoma, and Kentucky’s Matt Zook. A panel consisting of representative of what I call the “quick-service mapping” industry (Google, Mapbox, MapZen, Stamen) talked about job qualifications and their firms’ relation to academic teaching and research. We heard that “Geography” has an antiquated connotation and sounds old-fashioned, that the firms use “geo” to avoid the complexities of “geography”, and that geography is considered a “niche” field. My hunch is that geography is perhaps rather too broad (and “geo” even broader), but along with Peter Johnson’s (U Waterloo) comment from the audience, I must also admit that you don’t need to be a geographer to make maps, just like you don’t have to be a mathematician to do some calculations. Tips for students interested in working for the quick-service mapping industry included to develop a portfolio, practice their problem-solving and other soft skills, and know how to use platforms such as GitHub (before learning to program). A telltale tweet summarizing the panel discussion:

Thursday evening provided an opportunity to practice some burger cartography. It was time for the “Iron Sheep” hackathon organized by the FloatingSheep collective of academic geographers. Teams of five were given a wild dataset of geolocated tweets and a short 90-or-so minute time frame to produce some cool & funny map(s) and win a trophy for the best or worst or inbetween product. It was interesting to see how a group of strangers new to the competition and with no clue about how to get started, would end up producing a wonderful map such as this :-)


My last day at AAG 2015, Friday, April 24, took off with a half-day technical workshop on “Let’s Talk About Your Geostack”. The four active participants got a tremendous amount of attention from instructor-consultant @EricTheise. Basically, I went from zero to 100 in terms of having PostgreSQL, PostGIS, Python, NodeJS, and TileMill installed and running on my laptop – catching up within four hours with the tools that some of my students have been talking about, and using, in the last couple of years!

In the afternoon, attention turned to OpenStreetMap (OSM), with a series of sessions organized by Muki Haklay, who argues that OSM warrants its own branch of research, OpenStreetMap Studies. I caught the second session which started with Salzburg’s Martin Loidl showing an approach in development to detect and correct attribute (tag) inconsistencies in OSM based on information contained in the OSM data set (intrinsic approach). Geothink co-investigator Peter Johnson of UWaterloo presented preliminary results of his study of OSM adoption (or lack thereof) by municipal government staff. In eight interviews with Canadian city staff, Peter did not find a single official use of OSM. Extensive discussions followed the set of four presentations, making for a highly informative session. One of the fundamental questions raised was whether OSM is distinct enough from other VGI and citizen science projects that it merits its own research approach. While typically considered one of the largest crowdmapping projects, it was noted that participation is “shallow” (Muki Haklay) with only 10k active users among 2 million registered users. Martin Loidl had noted that OSM is focused on geometry data, yet with a flat structure and no standards other than those agreed-upon via the OSM wiki. Alan McConchie added the caution that OSM contributions only make it onto the map if they are included in the “style” files used to render OSM data. Other issues raised by Alan included the privacy of contributors and questions about authority. For example, contributors should be aware of the visualization and statistics tools developed by Pascal Neis at http://neis-one.org/! We were reminded that Muki Haklay has developed a code of engagement for researchers studying OSM (read the documentation, experience actively contributing, explore the data, talk to the OSM community, publish open access, commit to knowledge transfer). Muki summarized the debate by suggesting that academics should act as “critical friends” vis-à-vis the OSM community and project. To reconcile “OSM Studies” with VGI, citizen science, and the participatory Geoweb, I’d refer to the typology of user contributions developed by Rinner & Fast (2014). In that paper, we do in fact single out OSM (along with Wikimapia) as a “crowd-mapping” application, yet within a continuum of related Geoweb applications.

Ryerson Geographers at AAG 2015

The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies is sending a sizable delegation of researchers down south (or should that be west?) to Chicago, to spread the word about our awesome research in applied and other geographies! The annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) also is the premier venue to pick up research trends and network with colleagues representing the full breadth of the discipline.

Here is the “Ryerson program” in detail, with an update to the “Retail and Business Geography I” session. In all, there are about 14 faculty members and 7 students presenting (not including co-authors), and we are involved in 29 sessions (including organizer, chair, panelist, etc.)!


Paper Session: Trees in the City 1: Biophysical Conditions
Tuesday, 4/21/2015 at 8:00 AM

Abstract Title: The Effectiveness of Tillage Radish® to Improve the Growing Medium for Urban Trees
Shawn Mayhew-Hammond, MASc* – Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University
Andrew A Millward, Ph.D. – Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University

Abstract Title: Virtual Daylighting: Enhancing Arboriculture Consulting Practices Through Tree Root Location with Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR)
*Vadim Sabetski – Ryerson University
Andrew Millward, Dr. – Ryerson University

Abstract Title: Influence of Organic Mulch on Soil Characteristics in a Forested Urban Park
*Andrew A Millward, Ph.D. – Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University
Todd Irvine, MFC, ISA Certified Arborist – Bruce Tree Expert Company Ltd.

Paper Session: Trees in the City 2: Mapping and Measurement
Tuesday, 4/21/2015 at 10:00 AM
Abstract Title: Enabling Environmental Agents: Can Citytrees Help our Cities Grow?
Nikesh N. Bhagat* – Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University
Andrew A Millward, Ph.D. – Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University

Paper Session: 1457 Geographies of Media III: Multicultural media, international migration, and transnationalism
Tuesday, 4/21/2015, from 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM
Discussant(s): Sutama Ghosh – Ryerson University

Paper Session: Trees in the City 4: Human- Forest Relationships
Tuesday, 4/21/2015 at 14:40 PM.
Abstract Title: Assessing Urban Forest Ecosystem Change and the Vulnerability of Ecosystem Service Supply in a Residential Neighborhood
James Steenberg* – Ryerson University
Andrew Millward, PhD – Ryerson University


Paper Session: 2178 Retail and Business Geography I
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Murray Rice – University of North Texas
Chair(s): Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University

Abstract Title: The Mixed Use Challenge: Turning Tides of Retail Development
Christopher Daniel* – Ryerson University – CSCA
Tony Hernandez, Ph.D. – Ryerson University – CSCA

Abstract Title: The Polarizing Canadian Market: High-end Retail Change
*Stephen Swales – Ryerson University
Wayne Forsythe – Ryerson University

Paper Session: 2184 Biofuels, Bioenergy, and the Emerging Bio-Economy I: Visions
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM
Peter Kedron – Ryerson University
Jennifer Baka – London School of Economics
Kirby Calvert

Paper Session: 2284 Biofuels, Bioenergy, and the Emerging Bio-Economy II: Landscapes
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM
Peter Kedron – Ryerson University
Jennifer Baka – London School of Economics
Kean Birch – York University

Paper Session: Geographies of Activism and Protest II
Wednesday, 4/22/2015 at 10:00 AM
Abstract Title: Indigenous Armed Resistance as Activism
Author(s): Valentina Capurri* – Ryerson University

Panel Session: 2278 The Huff Model: from origins to modeling legacy
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Anthony Lea
Daniel A. Griffith – U. of Texas at Dallas
Chair(s): Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University

Panel Session: 2478 Dr. David Huff: a tribute to his contribution to applied geographical and business research
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
John Frazier – Binghamton University
Chair(s): Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University

Paper Session: 2484 Biofuels, Bioenergy, and the Emerging Bio-Economy III: Transitions I
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM
Peter Kedron – Ryerson University
Kean Birch – York University
Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen – SUNY-Buffalo
Chair(s): Peter Kedron – Ryerson University

Paper Session: 2584 Biofuels, Bioenergy, and the Emerging Bio-Economy IV: Transitions II
Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
Peter Kedron – Ryerson University
Kirby Calvert
Jennifer Baka – London School of Economics

Abstract Title: Geographies of bioenergy from corn to high-tech biofuels
Author(s): Peter Kedron* – Ryerson University

Paper Session: Land Use Change and Ecosystem Services
Wednesday, 4/22/2015 at 17:20 PM.
Abstract Title: Spatiotemporal patterns and landscape metrics on First Nation reserves: The case of southern Ontario
Author(s): Eric Vaz* – Ryerson University


Paper Session: Immigrants, ethnicity, gender, race and health disparities in North American Cities
Thursday, 4/23/2015 at 8:00 AM.
Abstract Title: Composition and locational strategies of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in Canada
Lu Wang* – Ryerson University
Jacob Levy – Ryerson University

Panel Session: 3132 Immigration and Law, Migrant Activism, ‘Citizenship after Orientalism’
Thursday, 4/23/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM
Leif Johnson
Harald Bauder – Ryerson University
Pierpaolo Mudu – University of Washington – Tacoma
Sutapa Chattopadhyay – UNU-Merit & Maastricht University

Panel Session: 3178 Faculty Opportunities for Research and Teaching in Location Intelligence
Thursday, 4/23/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM
Murray Rice – University of North Texas
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Panelist(s): Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Simona Epasto – University of Macerata
William Graves – UNC-Charlotte

Paper Session: 3276 2nd Special Session Retail aspects in Urban Geography and Urban Planning IV: Spatial impact of key supply and demand trends in retailing
Thursday, 4/23/2015, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM
Discussant(s): Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University

Paper Session: Weather, Climate, and Health IV: Interventions and Solutions
Thursday, 4/23/2015 at 15:20 PM
Abstract Title: An analysis of the influence of multi-scalar characteristics of city trees on microclimatic variation within Toronto’s urban forest: a hierarchical approach
Christopher Greene* – Ryerson University
Peter J. Kedron, PhD – Ryerson University


Paper Session: 4102 Retail and Business Geography II
Friday, 4/24/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Murray Rice – University of North Texas
Chair(s): Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University

Abstract Title: Location Strategies of Foreign Retailers in Canada
Joseph Aversa* – Ryerson University
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University

Abstract Title: Reconstructing Target’s Location Strategy in Canada
*Peter Pavlakidis, MSA – Environics Analytics
Shuguang Wang, Dr. – Co-Presenter

Abstract Title: Rethinking Retail Geography
Author(s): Tony Hernandez* – Ryerson University

Panel Session: 4202 Rethinking Ethnic Entrepreneurship
Friday, 4/24/2015, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM
Antonie Schmiz – Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt a.M.
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Shuguang Wang – Ryerson University
Zhixi Zhuang – Ryerson University
Felicitas Barbara Hillmann – Free University Berlin
Veronique Schutjens – University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Linda Szabó – Central European University
Charlotte Rauchle – Humboldt-University Berlin, Geography Department

Paper Session: Food Networks and Politics I: Urban Scenarios
Friday, 4/24/2015 at 10:00 AM.
Abstract Title: Food Consumption and the Retail Food Environment: Examining Toronto’s Food Scapes
Daniel Liadsky* – Ryerson University
Brian Ceh – Ryerson University

Poster Session: Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T) Poster Session
Friday, 4/24/2015 at 10:00 AM

Abstract Title: Conceptualizing Volunteered Geographic Information and the Participatory Geoweb
Victoria Fast* – Ryerson University
Claus Rinner – Ryerson University
Blake Byron Walker – Simon Fraser University

Abstract Title: The Role of Maps and Composite Indices in Place-Based Decision-Making
Claus Rinner* – Ryerson University, Geography
Heather Hart – Ryerson University, Geography
Meghan McHenry – Ryerson University, Geography
Carmen Huber – Ryerson University, Geography
Duncan MacLellan – Ryerson University, Politics

Panel Session: 4437 The Housing and Economic Experiences of Immigrants in U.S. and Canadian Cities
Friday, 4/24/2015, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM
Margaret W. Walton-Roberts – Wilfrid Laurier University
Wan Yu – Arizona State University
Sutama Ghosh – Ryerson University
John Frazier – Binghamton University
John Miron – University of Toronto

Paper Session: Restore Urban River’s Water Quality to Swimmable/Fishable
Friday, 4/24/2015 at 13:20 PM
Abstract Title: Using Geospatial Techniques for Water Research: Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water in Ontario, Canada
Brian Ceh* – Ryerson University
Mary Grunstra – Ryerson University
Eric Vaz – Ryerson University

Panel Session: 4513 Student Opportunities for Study and Career Development in Location Intelligence
Friday, 4/24/2015, from 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
Murray Rice – University of North Texas
Tony Hernandez – Ryerson University
Simona Epasto – University of Macerata


Paper Session: Mental Health Geographies
Saturday, 4/25/2015 at 8:00 AM
Abstract Title: Crowd mapping mental health promotion through the Thought Spot project
Heather A Hart* – Ryerson University
Victoria Fast – Ryerson University

Paper Session: Dialectics in Geography: Opportunities and Limitations
Saturday, 4/25/2015 at 14:00 PM
Abstract Title: Reflections on Dialectics as Theory and/or Method
Author(s): Harald Bauder* – Ryerson University

Panel Session: 5531 Radical teaching
Saturday, 4/25/2015, from 4:00 PM – 5:40 PM in Columbian, Hyatt, West Tower, Bronze Level
Harald Bauder – Ryerson University
Sutapa Chattopadhyay – UNU-Merit & Maastricht University
Pierpaolo Mudu – University of Washington – Tacoma

Paper Session: The Role of Geography in Shaping Sustainability Agendas in the Higher Education – session 2
Saturday, 4/25/2015 at 16:00 PM.
Abstract Title: Examining Patterns of Sustainability Across Europe: A Multivariate and Spatial Assessment of 25 Composite Indices
Author(s): Richard Ross Shaker, Ph.D.* – Ryerson University