2019 Spatial Data Science Symposium

Spatial Data Science Symposium

“Setting the Spatial Data Science Agenda”

December 9–11, 2019


Upham Hotel (https://www.uphamhotel.com/)

Santa Barbara, California


Space and time matter not only for the obvious reason that everything happens somewhere and at some time, but because knowing where and when things happen is critical to understanding why and how they happened or will happen. Spatial data science is concerned with the representation, modeling, and simulation of spatial processes, as well as with the publication, retrieval, reuse, integration, and analysis of spatial data. It generalizes and unifies research from fields such as geographic information science, geoinformatics, geo/spatial statistics, remote sensing, and transportation studies, and fosters the application of methods developed in these fields to outside disciplines ranging from the social to the physical sciences. In doing so, research on spatial data science must  address a variety of new challenges that relate to the diversity of the utilized data and the underlying conceptual models from various domains, the opportunistic reuse of existing data, the scalability of its methods, the support of users not familiar with the language and methods of traditional geographic information systems, the reproducibility of its results that are often generated by complex chains of methods, the uncertainty arising from the use of its methods and data, the visualization of complex spatiotemporal processes and data about them, and, finally, the data collection, analysis, and visualization playing out in near real-time. Spatial data science does not only utilize advanced techniques from fields such as machine learning or big data storage and retrieval, but it also contributes back to them. Recent work, for instance, has shown that spatially-explicit machine learning methods substantially outperform more general data when applied to spatial data even though this spatial component may seem of secondary importance at first glance.

Co-sponsored by Esri, the Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara is hosting a symposium entitled “Setting the Spatial Data Science Agenda.” The meeting will bring together academic and industry representatives from fields such as geographic information science, geoinformatics, geo/spatial statistics, remote sensing, and transportation studies, with interest in setting an interdisciplinary research agenda to advance spatial data science methods and practice, both from scientific and engineering viewpoints. We also invite experts from related fields and those that are producers or users of spatial data in the social and physical sciences.


Instead of being restricted by a historically grown partition into small and overlapping communities that deal with spatial data in one way or the other, the overarching goal of this symposium is to put spatial data science at the forefront of a unified field that explores the current research and application landscape to define an agenda for spatial data science for the next 10 years.


About 35 invited and funded experts from academia and industry will convene to share and develop visions, insights, and best practices. Plenary presentations and intense exchanges in small breakout discussion groups offer opportunities for knowledge transfer.

Call for Applications 

To apply, please submit a one-page, paragraph-style bio with a photograph and a short two-page position paper (in PDF format), discussing your perspective on the subject by August 23, 2019. Participants will be selected by the organizing committee and notified of their acceptance by September 9. Our goal is to achieve a balance of participants from a variety of disciplines and from different career levels. Hence, we especially encourage early-career (including graduate students) participants from both the industry and academia to apply. We will cover the full expense of accommodations and reimburse travel expenses up to $1,200 for international participants and $700 for domestic. 

The meeting will be held at the Upham Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara on Dec. 9–11; suggested travel days are Dec. 8 and the afternoon of Dec. 11.

Please see http://spatial.ucsb.edu for more information. 

Submit your application directly to Karen Doehner <kdoehner@spatial.ucsb.edu>.

Please feel free to contact Krzysztof Janowicz <janowicz@ucsb.edu> if you have questions about the event or the call for applications.

spatial@ucsb.local2019: Posters

spatial@ucsb.local2019 main page

The Future of Island Oaks

The Future of Island Oaks

Laura Wolf, Sofie McComb, Claire Powers, Jazmine Uy, Alyssa Winchell

Bren School of Environmental Management, University of California, Santa Barbara
Island oak (Quercus tomentella) is a rare oak species endemic to six islands in the California Island Archipelago (CAIA). Over a century of farming and grazing on the islands degraded core habitat and reduced island oak seedling recruitment. The species was listed as endangered by the IUCN in 2016. Most historical threats have been removed, though island oak regeneration is still restricted and there is concern that impending climate change poses an additional threat that may ultimately lead to extinction. Spatially-constrained, if the island oak’s range shifts or further deteriorates, alternative options are limited. We used MaxEnt, a species distribution model, to identify island oak’s bioclimatic niche on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Santa Catalina Islands and then predicted where that niche might exist through the end of the century under four climate change scenarios. Model outputs supported three main findings: (1) Island oak’s predicted bioclimatic niche was largely driven by soil moisture availability; (2) Santa Rosa Island had the most predicted suitable habitat under each climate change scenario, while predicted suitable habitat on Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands was minimal; and (3) the bioclimatic habitat occupied by island oak varies substantially between the three islands studied. Improvements in life history information, legacy grazing patterns, and more finely downscaled climate data would substantially increase model validity. Research should focus on identifying mechanisms driving the variation in habitat occupied on each island, while restoration should prioritize habitat augmentation and seedling recruitment, to increase island oak’s resiliency to climate change.
Urbanization and its Effects on the Surrounding Environment
Urbanization poster
Urbanization and its Effects on the Surrounding Environment: Case Study of Beijing and Lanzhou, China

Guiyu Li, Yingyi He, Jiaxuan Lyu, Haoyu Shi

Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara

In the past decades, China has experienced massive economic growth and urban development. Changes in urban land cover, vegetation healthiness, and temperature distribution are crucial factors to understand the urbanization effects on the surrounding environment. Beijing and Lanzhou, two distinctive cities in terms of size and geographical location, are selected as our study objects. Using Landsat 5 and 8 images from 1993 to 2017 for the two cities, we train our algorithms to classify land cover types, including urban, vegetation, soil, and water. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is calculated to measure vegetation health. Temperatures are derived using the radiance of the thermal band. Land cover classes are used for NDVI and temperature analysis. Based on the results, both Lanzhou and Beijing experienced urban expansion over the study period. Especially in Beijing, both its scale and urbanization rate are greater compared to those in Lanzhou due to the demographic, topographic, and economic differences. Urbanization influences the total amount of vegetation but does not directly cause a decrease in vegetation healthiness. The temperatures in both cities have increasing trends. The temperatures of urban and soil areas are higher than those of vegetation and water. In Beijing, the urban areas have the highest temperature, and the hot spots correspond with the urban expansion, reflecting a positive urban heat island effect. In contrast, in Lanzhou, the soil areas have higher temperatures than urban areas, which indicates a negative heat island effect. In conclusion, urbanization leads to a positive impact on temperature change but does not decrease vegetation health. Vegetation and water will mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Perspective Taking is Affected by Array, Perspective Shift, and pointing Quadrant
Perspective Taking

Perspective Taking is Affected by Array, Perspective Shift, and pointing Quadrant

Peri Gunalp, Elizabeth Chrastil, Mary Hegarty

University of California, Santa Barbara

Previous research on spatial perspective taking ability has used psychometric tests like the Perspective Taking Test (PTT). The present experiment introduces an experimental task that systematically varies the magnitude of the initial perspective shift and of the pointing response, and examines the effects of the addition of a person in the array. Performance on this computerized PTT indicated that accuracy increased with inclusion of a person in the array compared to a control condition, decreased with increases in initial perspective shift, and was best when pointing to the front in the imaged perspective. These perspective shift and pointing response patterns were consistent regardless of whether a person was included in the task array, suggesting that participants do not modify their strategy when a person is included. Regardless of the size of the initial perspective shift or pointing quadrant, participants seem to be engaging mental transformation and visualization processes.

Academic Discipline's Interactions with Spatial Aptitude
Academic Disciplines and Spatial Aptitude
Academic Discipline’s Interactions with Spatial Aptitude

Emily Cao, Adora Du, Luke Speier, Chuanxiuyue (Carol) He, Mary Hegarty

Hegarty Spatial Cognition Lab, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are academic disciplines that have been associated with spatial aptitude.Visualizing objects, being aware of spatial relationships, having knowledge of movement and speed, in addition to analyzing complicated systems are all important skills for being successful in STEM disciplines. This study tested the spatial aptitudes of participants from different academic disciplines such as engineering, physical sciences, and social sciences in order to see whether or not there was an actual difference in visuospatial performance. The results found that participants in engineering and STEM disciplines had slightly stronger spatial aptitudes.
Analysis of Students' Familiarity with UCSB Campus
Student's Unfamiliarity Poster

Analysis of Students’ Familiarity with UCSB Campus

Shupeng Wang, Zilong Liu, Eddie Nguyen

Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB campus is approximately 989 acres so it can be easy to be unfamiliar with the campus. In this project, we address areas of unfamiliarity within the UCSB campus and explore three possible associations that might influence familiarity on the UCSB campus: Campus Resource Availability, Accessibility, and Activity. The Campus Resource Availability factor highlights how availability of the campus resources, such as computer labs and foods, affect familiarity. The Accessibility factor indicates the influence of accessibility to the campus buildings on familiarity. The Activity factor shows how familiarity is influenced by students’ activity around campus.
The Effects of Drought on Land Fallowing and Crop Health in Agriculture
The Effects of Drought on Land Fallowing and Crop Health in Agriculture

Brody Brand, Jessica Martinez, McKenzie Sime

Departments of Geography and EEMB, University of California, Santa Barbara
In this project, we aimed to discern the effects of both drought severity and water source on agriculture. Looking at three counties in April of 2011, 2014, and 2018, we assessed the percentage of cropland that had been fallowed and the health of crops using an NDVI and an NDWI. We found that Linn County, Oregon, which has no shortage of water, had the least fallowed land and the healthiest crops. In Merced County and Imperial County, California, we found that there was some variation in the percentage of fallowed land with drought severity and no variation in crop health with drought. Water source did not seem to have an effect for the 2014 drought.
Effects of Human Land Use on Invasive Species Density in Hawaii
Hawaii's Invasive Species

Effects of Human Land Use on Invasive Species Density in Hawaii

Juli Ann Lingenberg, Noelle Pruett, McKenzie Sime

Departments of EEMB and Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara
In this project, we aimed to discover which land use type had invasive species observations in the highest density in Hawaii. Using a land use map from the Hawaii State Land Use Commission (LUC) and species observations for 15 invasive species from iNaturalist, we found the density of observations in each of our four land use types (urban, rural, agriculture, and conservation). Urban areas had the highest density (8x the average). We then looked at buffers around the urban areas of differing distances and found that the further a buffer went out from an urban area, the lower the density of observations became.
The City of Thousand Oaks Community Energy Action Plan
Thousand Oaks Energy Plan

The City of Thousand Oaks Community Energy Action Plan: Residential Energy Consumption

Carrie Simmons, GIS Aide

City of Thousand Oaks Public Works Department

This analysis is a guiding component to the City of Thousand Oaks Community Energy Action Plan (CEAP). The main goals of this plan are to reduce fossil fueled based energy usage and increase energy efficiency and resilience in The City of Thousand Oaks. This data and analysis will be able to inform City staff on what areas or demographics should be targeted and how to strategically implement programs and outline steps to lower overall energy consumption. Staff plan to use this energy consumption data over a variety of parameters such as building age, solar panel usage, income, population density, home ownership versus renters, and much more. Over time this analysis may become part of the Cities Climate Action Plan which has a goal of addressing activities to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). This analysis is an initial step to seeing how we can use this data to create programs and policies to meet our climate goals.

Communities of Interest at Different Scales
Communities of Interest at Different Scales

Communities of Interest at Different Scales

Daniel W. Phillips

Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara
When drawing boundaries of electoral districts, officials commonly rely on four criteria besides equal population: contiguity, compactness, respect for administrative regions, and respect for communities of interest (COIs). That last criterion is not as easily defined, as what exactly constitutes a COI is open to interpretation. This research evaluates the merits of one potential method for identifying and defining COIs, by surveying residents and asking them to draw the boundaries of their COI on a map. Those areas covered by many respondents’ drawings would thus constitute the core of people’s cognitive COI. A study conducted in Santa Barbara County, California demonstrates that this method results in clearly-defined and coherent COIs that somewhat correspond to the existing electoral districts. The study also reveals that survey participants, despite the fact that all of them live in the same district at three different levels of government, conceive of separate urban and rural COIs. Furthermore, the extent of the map given to participants has a large effect on the size of the COI that they draw. These results indicate the importance of the urban-rural dichotomy and the effects of scale in defining what a COI really is.
2018 Posters
spatial@ucsb.local2018 poster

spatial@ucsb.local2019: Poster and Plenary Session



Thursday, June 6, 2018

Corwin Pavilion

Invitation & Agenda Speakers Posters

The annual spatial@ucsb.local2019 Poster and Plenary Session was held on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at Corwin Pavilion.

This year’s theme for the event was Spatial Data for Smarter Cities. Keynotes were delivered by Mahnoosh Alizadeh (Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC Santa Barbara), Konstadinos (Kostas) Goulias (Dept. of Geography, UC Santa Barbara), and Kurt Shellhause (Water Resources Engineer, Kasraie Consulting). Representatives from the private sector and industry and campus-wide academics in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and engineering programs had the opportunity to showcase how spatial thinking facilitates research and creativity. A total of 38 posters were submitted for viewing. Some of these have been posted to this website.

Save the Date: Spatial Data Science Symposium

Save the Date!
The Center of Spatial Studies at UCSB will be hosting the first international Spatial Data Science Symposium December 9-12, 2019 to bring together leading experts from a wide range of relevant domains to set the 5-year agenda for Spatial Data Science. The symposium will focus on intense discussions, breakout groups, hands-on workshops, agenda-setting, and so forth and not on the presentation of research papers.

Limes – Who? What? When? Where? Why? A ThinkSpatial Recap

The Spatial Center was glad to invite Grant McKenzie, one of Geography’s own graduates, back from the chill of Montreal for a visit and talk on March 5. Formerly from the STKO lab, Grant is interested in how geographic information has a role to play in the study of the the intersection of information technology and society and what we can understand about human behavior.

At the Center, he presented some early exploration he and his group were doing on scooters as a form of public transportation. Here, he asked the audience if anyone frequently used Lime to get around (just one?!):

Engaging participants across disciplines -- Public Scooters
Engaging participants across disciplines — Public Scooters

This analysis led to a discussion about Lime’s function for users as a replacement for or adjacent to bike sharing and other form of shared economy transport means.

Introducing the Subject - Grant McKenzie
Introducing the Subject – Grant McKenzie

One of the takeaways? It looks like (in DC) bikes are used for commute (such as to and from work), whereas scooters are used for quick, short trips (average duration of just 5 minutes!).



Save the Date: Spatial Hangouts 2

Dear all,
After a successful first Spatial Data Science Hangout, we would like to run a follow-up on Monday March 18, 2019 from 12-1pm. We got a lot of positive feedback form many of you but even more importantly several useful suggestions on how to change the formula for the hangout and we will implement them for next week. We will also have a light lunch available for you. Finally, you can also join our slack channel if you plan to regularly participate in the hangout series: https://sds-hangout.slack.com/.

ThinkSpatial: Linda Adler-Kassner

thinkspatial_logo On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Spatial Thinking as a Heuristic:

Shaping Learning about Teaching

Linda Adler-Kassner

University of California Santa Barbara

Director, Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education
University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, 2019 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)


Teaching is a complex activity, especially for faculty members who are experts in their disciplines. Faculty members need to take into account a number of complex concepts associated with contexts for teaching and learning, disciplinary identities, representational practices, and students and their identities in order to make learning accessible. At the same time, the ways in which these ideas need to be considered are themselves areas of learning. Adler-Kassner will discuss how spatial thinking can serve as a visual metaphor for facilitating faculty members’ thinking about learning. As a faculty member whose research is bound up with contributing to a research-based teaching culture in our research university, she will describe the evolution of a spatial model intended to facilitate others’ thinking about epistemologically inclusive teaching. Since attendees are “also” teaching, feedback and discussion about the idea of spatial thinking as a heuristic will also be encouraged.

Bio: Linda Adler-Kassner is Professor of Writing Studies; Director of the Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning; and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education in the College of Letters and Science. Her research focuses broadly on how literacy is defined, taught, and assessed in disciplinary contexts, and on implications of those definitions for students, for teaching, and for public policy. Adler-Kassner is author, co-author, or co-editor of 11 books and more than 50 articles and book chapters and worked with faculty across the country on issues associated with teaching and learning. She has served as President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and board member of the National Council of Teachers of English. The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts. Please contact Werner Kuhn (kuhn@ucsb.edu) to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking. Follow spatial@ucsb on Twitter | Google+ | Google Calendar

New Spatial Visitor: Carlos Carbonell Carrera

The Center for Spatial Studies is happy to announce the arrival of a visitor to the center, Carlos Carbonell Carrera (March-June, 2019)Carbonell is an Associate Professor of Surveying, Mapping, Geographic Information Systems and Land Information Technologies in the Department of Techniques and Projects in Engineering and Architecture (Area of knowledge of Cartographic, Geodetic and Photogrammetric Engineering) at the La Laguna University, Spain. He earned an M.Sc. degree in Surveying Engineering in 1992 from Madrid Polytechnic University, Master in Geographic Information Systems in 2005 from Girona University and a Ph.D. in Engineering in 2011 from La Laguna University.

Carbonell has previously held two international research stays at the University of Life Sciences and Environment (Iasi, Romania in 2016) and Temple University (Philadelphia, 2018), conducting studies on geospatial thinking with 3D technologies. He has also performed short research stays within the Erasmus + program of the European Commission in Italy, Romania, Poland, Belgium, and Finland.

Sponsored by a grant from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities of Spain within the mobility stays program for professors and researchers in foreign centers of higher education and research, Carbonell is visiting the Center for Spatial Studies at UCSB during the months March, April, and May 2019.  His research interests focus on the improvement of spatial orientation skill and the study of new media and Geographic Information Technologies for the development of innovative teaching methodologies in the field of Surveying, GIS, and Mapping.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Carbonell to campus! He will be working at 3512 Phelps Hall during his stay–please feel free to contact him — ccarbone@ull.edu.es — if your research interests intersect with his.