Werner Kuhn

Werner Kuhn
University of California, Santa Barbara | UCSB · Department of Geography

Dr. sc. techn.

About

201
Publications
50,357
Reads
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4,753
Citations
Introduction
Interests: information, usability, space and time, economics. Born and raised in Switzerland, PhD from ETH Zurich. Lived in Switzerland, Maine, Austria, Germany, California, Australia, and Portugal. Co-founder of the Vespucci Initiative (http://vespucci.org)
Additional affiliations
November 2013 - present
University of California, Santa Barbara
Position
  • Jack and Laura Dangermond Chair in Geographic Information Science
November 2013 - June 2020
University of California, Santa Barbara
Position
  • Professor
September 1996 - December 2013
University of Münster
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Education
August 1991 - June 1995
TU Vienna (Vienna University of Technology)
Field of study
  • Semantics of Geographic Information
October 1985 - May 1989
ETH Zurich
Field of study
  • Human-Computer Interaction, GIS
October 1976 - May 1982
ETH Zurich
Field of study
  • Surveying Engineering

Publications

Publications (201)
Article
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Conversing about places with a computer poses a range of challenges to current AI.
Article
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Research in geographic information science has not yet found clear answers to the questions of what geographic information is about or what a geographic information system (GIS) contains. This lack of consensus makes it especially challenging to teach and learn GIS. Existing pedagogical approaches either focus on the representational level of data...
Article
Full-text available
The institutional review of interdisciplinary bodies of research lacks methods to systematically produce higher-level abstractions. Abstraction methods, like the “distant reading” of corpora, are increasingly important for knowledge discovery in the sciences and humanities. We demonstrate how abstraction methods complement the metrics on which rese...
Preprint
Institutional reviews typically rely on scientometrics, like the h-index and impact factors of their participants, to assess research productivity. Productivity is not the only review criterion however, and scientometrics can be difficult to generate and compare in multidisciplinary settings. “Distant reading” methods from the Digital Humanities ca...
Conference Paper
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It is challenging for scholars to discover thematically related research in a multidisciplinary setting, such as that of a university library. In this work, we use spatialization techniques to convey the relatedness of research themes without requiring scholars to have specific knowledge of disciplinary search terminology. We approach this task con...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We describe a method and system design for improved data discovery in an integrated network of open geospatial data that supports collaborative policy development between governments and local constituents. Metadata about civic data (such as thematic categories, user-generated tags, geo-references, or attribute schemata) primarily rely on technical...
Chapter
Full-text available
Since its emergence in the 1990s, the area of Participatory GIS (PGIS) has generated numerous interactive mapping tools to support complex planning processes. The need to involve non-expert users makes the usability of these tools a crucial aspect that contributes to their success or failure. While many approaches and procedures have been proposed...
Article
Full-text available
Human spatial concepts, such as the concept of place, are not immediately translatable to the geometric foundations of spatial databases and information systems developed over the past 50 years. These systems typically rest on the concepts of objects and fields, both bound to coordinates, as two general paradigms of geographic representation. The m...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Since its emergence in the 1990s, the area of Participatory GIS (PGIS) has generated numerous interactive mapping tools to support complex planning processes. The need to involve non-expert users makes the usability of these tools a crucial aspect that contributes to their success or failure. While many approaches and procedures have been proposed...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Access to public data in the United States and elsewhere has steadily increased as governments have launched geospatially-enabled web portals like Socrata, CKAN, and Esri Hub. However, data discovery in these portals remains a challenge for the average user. Differences between users' colloquial search terms and authoritative metadata impede data d...
Article
Current publishing practices in academia tend to result in datasets that are difficult to discover. This is because datasets are not well-integrated across academic domains and they are often not linked to the documents that reference them. For these reasons, discovering datasets across domains can be challenging; for example, discovering archeolog...
Article
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After a review of previous work on resolution in geographic information science (GIScience), this article presents a theory of spatial and temporal resolution of sensor observations. Resolution of single observations is computed based on the characteristics of the receptors involved in the observation process, and resolution of observation collecti...
Article
Andrew Frank, who retired in September 2016 from the chair of geoinformation position at the Vienna University of Technology that he had held for a quarter century, has had an extraordinary influence on our field. His curiosity and wide spanning intellectual interests enriched the field’s foundations and propelled it in many ways. To name just one...
Article
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Geospatial data provenance is a fundamental issue in distributing spatial information on the Web. In the geoinformatics domain, provenance is often referred to as lineage. While the ISO 19115 lineage model is used widely in spatial data infrastructures, W3C has recommended the W3C provenance (PROV) data model for capturing and sharing provenance in...
Article
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Location data from social network posts are attractive for answering all sorts of questions by spatial analysis. However, it is often unclear what this information locates. Is it a point of interest (POI), the device at the time of posting, or something else? As a result, locational references in posts may get misinterpreted. For example, a restaur...
Article
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This paper explores the use of fuzzy difference methods in order to understand the differences between forest classes. The context for this work is provided by REDD+, which seeks to reduce the net emissions of greenhouse gases by rewarding the conservation of forests in developing countries. REDD+ requires that local inventories of forest are under...
Article
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In everyday communication, people effortlessly translate between spatial cognitive frames of reference. For example, a tourist guide translates from a map (“the fountain is north-west of the church”) into a cognitive frame for a tourist (“the fountain in front of the church”). While different types of cognitive reference frames and their relevance...
Conference Paper
Farmers face pressure to respond to unpredictable weather, the spread of pests, and other variable events on their farms. This paper proposes a framework for data aggregation from diverse sources that extracts named places impacted by events relevant to agricultural practices. Our vision is to couple natural language processing, geocoding, and exis...
Article
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Searching for information is a ubiquitous activity, performed in a variety of contexts and supported by rapidly evolving technologies. As a process, information search often has a spatial aspect: spatial metaphors help users refer to abstract contents, and geo-referenced information grounds entities in physical space. While information search is a...
Conference Paper
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We explore the idea of spatial lenses as pieces of software interpreting data sets in a particular spatial view of an environment. The lenses serve to prepare the data sets for subsequent analysis in that view. Examples include a network lens to view places in a literary text, or a field lens to interpret pharmacy sales in terms of seasonal allergy...
Article
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Academic libraries have always supported research across disciplines by integrating access to diverse contents and resources. They now have the opportunity to reinvent their role in facilitating interdisciplinary work by offering researchers new ways of sharing, curating, discovering, and linking research data. Spatial data and metadata support thi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support spatial problem solving by large repositories of procedures, which are mainly operating on map layers. These procedures and their parameters are often not easy to understand and use, especially not for domain experts without extensive GIS training. This hinders a wider adoption of mapping and spatial ana...
Research
Full-text available
Short communication on the SPATIAL 2015 conference, held at UCSB, December 9-11, 2015.
Conference Paper
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We propose to include the perspective of spatial computing in interdisciplinary courses on spatial thinking. Specifically, we recommend developing and applying a set of spatial lenses through which learners of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) get to see geographic space and choose spatial computations. These lenses are based on the core concept...
Conference Paper
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Recent work has identified the lack of space usage rule (SUR) data -- e.g. "no smoking", "no campfires" -- as an important limitation of online/mobile maps that presents risks to user safety and the environment. In order to address this limitation, a large-scale means of mapping SURs must be developed. In this paper, we introduce and motivate the p...
Conference Paper
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One of the main reasons why software projects fail is the lack of communication between the business users, who actually know the problem domain, and the developers who design and implement the software model. " (Ghosh 2011). Abstract We present the design rationale underlying a language for spatial computing and sketch a prototypical implementatio...
Article
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What exactly does interoperability mean in the context of information science? Which entities are supposed to interoperate, how can they interoperate, and when can we say they are interoperating? This question, crucial to assessing the benefit of semantic technology and information ontologies, has been understood so far primarily in terms of standa...
Article
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The Sensor Web provides wider access to sensors and their observations via the Web. A key challenge is to infer information about geographic events from these observations. A systematic approach to the representation of domain knowledge is vital when reasoning about events due to heterogeneous observational sources. This article delivers a formal m...
Conference Paper
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The Linked Data paradigm has made significant inroads into research and practice around spatial information and it is time to reflect on what this means for GIScience. Technically, Linked Data is just data in the simplest possible data model (that of triples), allowing for linking records or data sets anywhere across the web using controlled semant...
Article
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Space, time and thematic content are essential dimensions that allow libraries and their users to efficiently describe, search and access information media. The latter include not only documents and traditional media, such as paper maps, but to an increasing extent also scientific data sets, as well as all kinds of metadata describing these documen...
Article
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Despite the large and growing prominence of online and mobile maps, they have not been broadly and systematically examined with a lens informed by traditional cartography. Using an approach rooted in cartographic theory and a unique dataset of 382 publicly-displayed local maps, we identify the collective wisdom of hundreds of cartographers with res...
Conference Paper
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Interoperability is the main challenge on the way to efficiently find and access spatial data on the web. Significant contributions regarding interoperability have been made by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), where web service standards to publish and download spatial data have been established. The OGCs GeoSPARQL specification tar-gets spati...
Article
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Spatial references are required when geographical information systems (GIS) are used for the collection, storage and management of data. In the veterinary domain, the spatial component of a holding (of animals) is usually defined by coordinates, and no other relevant information needs to be interpreted or used for manipulation of the data in the GI...
Article
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Time series of observations reflect the status of environmental properties. Variations in these properties can be considered events when they potentially affect the stability of the monitored environment. Organisations dedicated to analyse environmental change use institutionalised descriptions of events to define the observable conditions under wh...
Article
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The appropriateness of spatial prediction methods such as Kriging, or aggregation methods such as summing observation values over an area, is currently judged by domain experts using their knowledge and expertise. In order to provide support from information systems for automatically discouraging or proposing prediction or aggregation methods for a...
Conference Paper
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This paper presents five properties that are true of the resolution of (geographic) data, and discusses their implications for Geographic Information Science (GIScience). It argues that resolution is (i) always present in data, (ii) representation-dependent, (iii) positively correlated with accuracy, (iv) positively correlated with data volume, and...
Article
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This report on the Vespucci Institute on health geography in 2013 emphasizes the importance of research that connects population, health, and place from a holistic perspective. We review important trends related to Health GIS and highlight directions for future research in this area that were identified at the Institute.
Conference Paper
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In this position paper, we describe a vision for the future of a so-called "Spatial-Health CyberGIS Marketplace". We first situate this proposed new computing ecosystem within the set of currently-available enabling technologies and techniques. We next provide a detailed vision of the capabilities and features of an ecosystem that will benefit indi...
Conference Paper
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How does complex spatiotemporal behavior arise from, and from which, spatiotemporal knowledge? In an attempt to answer this question, we extend Valentino Braitenberg's thought experiment [3] by describing and implementing vehicles with explicit, and increasingly sophisticated, spatiotemporal knowledge. We then observe the corresponding spatiotempor...
Conference Paper
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A core concept in geoscience/physical science research is the concept of transport. We present an ontology design pattern for the notion of transport in the geosciences using natural language coupled with a concept map. The top level concepts of the Transport Pattern are transport entity, transport mechanism, and transport event. These concepts are...
Conference Paper
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Most datasets on the Linked Data Web impose a static view on the represented entities and relations between them, neglecting temporal aspects of the reality they represent. In this paper, we address the representation of resources in their spatial, temporal and thematic context. We review the controversial proposals for the representation of time-d...
Conference Paper
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Trajectory data have been used in a variety of studies, including human behavior analysis, transportation management, and wildlife tracking. While each study area introduces a different perspective, they share the need to integrate positioning data with domain-specific information. Semantic annotations are necessary to improve discovery, reuse, and...
Conference Paper
With the rise of human sensor observation as a major source of geospatial information, the traditional assessment of information quality based on parameters like accuracy, consistency and completeness is shifting to new measures. In volunteered geographic information (VGI) these conventional parameters are either lacking or not explicit. Regarding...
Chapter
This chapter reviews ideas, rooted mostly in cognitive science and linguistics, to deal with semantics of geographic information. It discusses the following notions, dating roughly from the time between the two Las Navas meetings of 1990 and 2010: experiential realism, geographic information atoms, semantic reference systems, semantic datum, simila...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cognitive approaches to knowledge representation improve man-machine communication, as they are close to human reasoning. Conceptual spaces have been proposed as one such knowledge formalization method. Our research investigates the theory of conceptual spaces as a methodology for implementing semantic reference systems. Conceptual spaces are spann...
Article
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This paper compares the landform vocabularies of residents from two regions in Portugal. Participants described both their own and the other, less familiar landscapes in response to video footage of the regions. The results indicate that participants used more detailed vocabularies to describe the known landscape compared to the less familiar study...
Article
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Geographic information science is emerging from its niche ‘behind the systems’, getting ready to contribute to transdisciplinary research. To succeed, a conceptual consensus across multiple disciplines on what spatial information is and how it can be used is needed. This article proposes a set of 10 core concepts of spatial information, intended to...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The literature in geographic information science and related fields contains a variety of definitions and understandings for the term resolution. The goal of this paper is to discuss them and to provide a framework that makes at least some of these different senses compatible. The ultimate goal of our work is an ontological account of resolution. I...
Article
Full-text available
Similarity measures have a long tradition in fields such as information retrieval artificial intelligence and cognitive science. Within the last years these measures have been extended and reused to measure semantic similarity; i.e. for comparing meanings rather than syntactic differences. Various measures for spatial applications have been develop...
Article
Full-text available
Although the integration of sensor-based information into analysis and decision making has been a research topic for many years, semantic interoperability has not yet been reached. The advent of user-generated content for the geospatial domain, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), makes it even more difficult to establish semantic integration....
Thesis
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This paper reviews to what extent Linked Data can support information management in the humanitarian decision - making processes during the early stages of a disaster response. ON the immediate inset of a disaster there is little or no reliable information, especially about the affected population and the presence of relief agencies including their...
Conference Paper
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Formal geometry is a fundamental tool for showing how relevant metric qualities, such as depths, lengths, and volumes, as well as location concepts, such as points, can be constructed from experience. The ontological challenge of information grounding lies in the choice of concepts to consider as primitive, vs. those to be constructed. It also lies...
Conference Paper
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We provide a systematic model of spatial reference frames. The model captures concepts underlying natural language expressions in English that represent both external and internal as well as static and dynamic relationships between entities. Our implementation in the functional language Haskell generates valid English sentences from situations and...
Article
Full-text available
Similarity measures have a long tradition in fields such as information retrieval, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. Within the last years, these measures have been extended and reused to measure semantic similarity; i.e., for comparing meanings rather than syntactic differences. Various measures for spatial applications have been dev...
Article
Full-text available
Georeferencing and semantic annotations improve the find-ability of geoinformation because they exploit relationships to existing data and hence facilitate queries. Unlike georeferencing, which grounds location information in reference points on the earth's surface, seman-tic annotations often lack relations to entities of shared experience. We sug...
Article
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U n c o r r e c t e d p r o o f s - J o h n B e n j a m i n s P u b l i s h i n g C o m p a n y I make the case for ontology of landscape in language, addressing a series of concerns that are hindering a broader take-up of ontology as a tool for intra-and cross-linguistic research. The bottom line of my argument is that ontologies, as formal speci...
Article
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The work reported here explores the idea of identifying a small set of core concepts of spatial information. These concepts are chosen such that they are communicable to, and applicable by, scientists who are not specialists of spatial information. They help pose and answer questions about spatio-temporal patterns in domains that are not primarily...