Information search has become an enabler across the spectrum of human activity. Search engines process billions of queries each day and influence the visibility and accessibility of online content. Scientists search for meaningful patterns in massive data sets, while consumers search for products and services in a growing pool of options.
Operating at two levels, there is a spatial component at the core of search. On one hand, search technologies rely on a spatial metaphor: We talk about going to our favorite web sites to help search for fragments in an overwhelmingly large space of documents, images, and videos. On the other hand, geographic space will index information and refine search strategies, relying on the geo-location of entities to assess their relevance. While the spatial dimension of search is pervasive and foundational to many disciplines, it has not been adequately analyzed.
The overarching goal of this specialist meeting were to discuss spatial search along three complementary strands:
Computational strand: What are the current computing challenges in spatial search? What are the limits of spatial indexing? Where are the bottlenecks? What techniques and algorithms have substantially changed the way we design search functionality in large information systems? Are reference systems and meta-data helpful? What is the future of spatial search models?
Geospatial strand: What kinds of spatial search are utilized in the geo-spatial domain? What search functionality is missing in current Geographic Information Systems? How can Geographic Information Science interact with other domains to promote spatial thinking and education in the context of spatial search?
Cognitive strand: What do we know about how humans conceptualize and perform information searches and how space helps? How do search technologies impact human cognition of geographic and information spaces? How do humans search memory and visual or aural stimuli? Can hypotheses and insights from the cognitive and neurosciences inform computational and geospatial search techniques?
Intense and focused discussion among specialist meeting participants helped illuminate these matters and contributed toward the development of an interdisciplinary research agenda to advance spatial search from scientific as well as engineering viewpoints.
Application submissions were closed on September 20.
Location and time
This specialist meeting took place at the Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, CA on December 8–9, 2014.
- Stuart Card, Department of Computer Science, Stanford University
- Miguel Eckstein, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Vanessa Murdock, Microsoft
- Ross Purves, Department of Geography, University of Zurich