National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA)

National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) is an independent research consortium dedicated to basic research and education in geographic information science and its related technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS). The three member institutions are the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University at Buffalo; and the University of Maine. The consortium was formed in 1988 in response to a competition for funding from the National Science Foundation, and continues to receive much of its funding from that source. Today, NCGIA stands as an international focus for basic research, especially in areas such as accuracy and uncertainty in spatial data, spatial cognition, and GIS modeling and representation. Its three sites attract short- and long-term visitors from around the world, and its educational programs address the needs of students at all levels.

Prior NCGIA research projects:

Project Battuta (2000-2004)

Principal Investigators:

  • Sarah Nusser (Iowa State University)
  • Les Miller (Iowa State University)
  • Michael F. Goodchild (UCSB)
  • Keith C. Clarke (UCSB)

Project Battuta was an interdisciplinary research initiative to investigate the potential of emerging technologies and geospatial information resources to bring new functionalities to mobile field data collection. Research projects were undertaken in four main areas:

  • Infrastructure designs to support use of geospatial information in heterogeneous mobile field computing environments
  • Scientific software tools for sampling and conflation in limited field computing environments
  • Wearable computing environments and interface designs
  • Methodological approaches to using and collecting geospatial data in federal statistical surveys

Research was prototyped and explored using a testbed environment. A variety of geospatial data sources were assembled for a small area in Iowa undergoing urban development and experiencing a reduction in wetlands and prime farmland.

The concepts created under Project Battuta were developed with environmental and demographic applications in mind. The infrastructure design readily extends to less structured information gathering settings such as crisis management and law enforcement.

Project VITAL (1997-2004)

Principal Investigators:

  • Michael F. Goodchild
  • Val Noronha

The Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation Analysis Laboratory (VITAL), the transportation wing of NCGIA, engaged in research projects on transportation applications of geospatial information technologies until 2004.

Projects covering transportation problems such as infrastructure management (from construction to maintenance and renewal), operations and traffic, transit planning, transportation security and Intelligent Transportation Systems were undertaken. Geospatial techniques applied to these problems include remote sensing, GPS, spatial data architecture, traffic microsimulation, and spatial optimization modeling.

Projects were funded by the Federal and State governments and private firms. It now exists within the infrastructure of the National Consortium on Remote Sensing in Transportation (NCRST) Infrastructure Management.

Project Varenius (1997-1999)

Principal Investigators:

  • Michael F. Goodchild (UCSB)
  • Karen K. Kemp (UCSB)
  • David M. Mark (SUNY, Buffalo)
  • Max J. Egenhofer (University of Maine, Orono)

Motivated by scientific, technical, and societal concerns, the objective of NCGIA's Project Varenius was to advance geographic information science through basic research, education, and outreach. The research was aimed to:

  • Serve science and scientists in two ways, focusing on areas in which our knowledge of formalizable geographic concepts is currently incomplete, and contributing to the development and refinement of tools and methods that scientists can use to study geographically distributed phenomena;
  • Provide basic understanding of geographic concepts, which is required for the production of new technologies;
  • Examines the impacts that these technologies have on individuals, organizations, and society, and that other digital technologies have in the context provided by geographic space.
Project Gigalopolis (1994-2002)

Principal Investigator:

  • Keith C. Clarke (UCSB)

Gigalopolis is the growing urban structure containing billions of people worldwide. Urban settlements and their connectivity will be the dominant driver of global change during the twenty-first century. Intensely impacting land, atmospheric, and hydrologic resources, urban dynamics has now surpassed the regional scale of megalopolis and is now considered a continental and global-scale phenomenon.

Developed by Keith C. Clarke, Project Gigalopolis extended and refined the Clarke urban growth model, enabling predictions at regional, continental and eventually global scales. This work began through sponsorship from the United States Geological Survey's Urban Dynamics program, and continued under the NSF-funded Urban Research Initiative.

An eScholarship repository under the custodianship of the Center for Spatial Studies holds reports, publications, and curriculum resources completed through initiatives of the NCGIA consortium.