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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Center for Spatial Studies was founded in 2007 with the vision that spatial thinking and computing serve all scientific disciplines and support trans-disciplinary problem solving. The Center's mission is to engage in interdisciplinary research in how people and technology solve spatial problems. The Center organizes research-oriented events, such as the ongoing ThinkSpatial brown-bag talks for the local UCSB and global online communities and annual Specialist Research Meetings on a variety of spatially relevant themes. The Center has expertise in spatiotemporally explicit machine learning, in the formal representation of spatial phenomena, including but not limited to geographic space, and in knowledge engineering. Methods to improve the publication, retrieval, reuse, and integration of heterogeneous data across domain boundaries constitute additional focal areas.

Center for Spatial Studies

There are 544 publications in this collection, published between 1988 and 2022.
Center Reports (10)

Report on the Center for Spatial Studies

This report documents the education, research, and outreach activities of the Center for the period March 2013 - March 2016. In addition, it presents a vision for the center based on plans set forth for the next 3 years.

Imagine a Nation of Spatial Thinkers

This brochure seeks to broaden public understanding for the importance of spatial literacy for solving problems in science and for society.

Symposium on a Curriculum for Spatial Thinking: Executive Summary

This report summarizes discussions among ten university instructors from six disciplines in a symposium hosted by Diana Sinton at the University of Redlands in June 2008. The meeting was developed as a cooperative effort with the UC Santa Barbara Center for Spatial Studies.

The intent of the symposium was to review opportunies and challenges for establishing an undergraduate general course on spatial thinking.

This event provided a foundation for the establishment of a website devoted to instruction about fundamental spatial concepts (see and to the establishment of academic minors in spatial studies at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Redlands.

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GIScience 2021 Short Paper Proceedings (31)

Embodied digital twins of forest environments

We address the concept of embodied digital twins of real-world forest environments to support research, education, communication, and decision-making. We discuss approaches to generate these kinds of immersive experiences and how to link them to ecological models. We then present the prototype of an iVR embodied digital twin intended as an interactive workbench for analyzing remotely sensed forest data. Lastly, we discuss challenges for future work in this area.

MapSpace: POI-based Multi-Scale Global Land Use Modeling

Accurate and up-to-date land use maps are important to the study of human-environment interactions, urban morphology, environmental justice, etc. Traditional land use mapping approaches involve several surveys and expert knowledge of the region to be mapped. While traditional approaches generate accurate and authoritative maps, it is expensive and takes a long time to develop a new version of map. Besides, such maps have region-specific spatial embedding, making them difficult to benchmark and compare against other land use maps. This work introduces a scalable POI-based land use modeling approach to generate global land use maps at multiple spatial scales and different semantic granularities. In addition, our land use maps adhere to a unified land use categories and can be compared for accuracy and precision.

Agent-based Line-of-Sight Simulation for safer Crossings

Increasing in-town bicycle traffic creates a demand for safe and efficient transportation infrastructure. A significant safety aspect is crossroad layout. Existing solutions such as protected crossroads, roundabouts and standard four-way crossings are investigated in terms of viewing angles between traffic participants. An agent-based simulation helps to generate data, which is further analysed. Special attention is paid to blind spots of vehicles during turns, overall line of sight and human field of view. We can show that especially protected crossroad designs have major advantages. Standard layouts convince in terms of the analysed field of view and possible blind spots. However, they demand extensive shoulder views and head turning especially during right turns. This makes them less safe. Roundabouts show medium results. Exiting this structure always requires a right turn which is, in terms of visibility, the most dangerous action for bicycles. We conclude that protected crossroads can be recommended as the safest approach in comparison to standard and roundabout layouts. Yet, space requirements may restrict in-town realization of this design.

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Newsletters (8)

Vertices 3—spatial@ucsb eNews

The newsletter features (1) an article by Karl Grossner about the website for discovering lesson materials for instruction in fundamental spatial concepts and (2) an essay  by Michael Goodchild on the spatially explicit and  peripatetic nature of (his) academic life.

Vertices 1—spatial@ucsb eNews

This is the first issue of Vertices, areport on the activities of the spatial studies center known as spatial@ucsb. It features details about inauguration events centered on the theme of "Connecting our Region through GIS and Geospatial Technologies."

Vertices 5—spatial@ucsb eNews

Two articles are featured. The first, by Wenwen Li, describes some of the mapping issues associated with a UC-Muliti-campus Research Program and Initiatives (MRPI) project about the metropolitan economy of the Los Angeles region. The second, by Andrea Nuernberger, focuses on knowledge assessment and spatial abilities of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, a project that she and Dan Montello inherited from the late Reginald Golledge, a pioneer in the study of human spatial behavior.

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Selected Publications by Affiliated Faculty, Researchers, and Associates (1)

Understanding the Spatial, Platial, and Temporal Properties of Cryptocurrency Ecosystems

Cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies such as blockchains and smart contracts are rapidly gaining traction in sectors such as banking, identity management, supply chain management, cloud-computing, voting, forecasting, and so forth. With this change in visibility and first signs of mainstream adoption, there is a growing interest in understanding the cryptocurrency ecosystem, e.g., regarding market trends or inherent risks. Interestingly, however, spatial and platial aspects have not yet received much attention. One possible reason for this lack of analysis may be due to the perception of cryptocurrencies being global and living outside of legal frameworks. We will show that this is a misconception and that understanding the cryptocurrency ecosystem requires looking at the spaces and places involved in their creation, consumption, and regulation.

Spatial Lightning Talks (40)

Convergent Places—Warped Spaces

This video was recorded live at the annual Spatial Lightning Talks on February 27, 2013 at the Mosher Alumni House, UC Santa Barbara. Each speaker was allotted three minutes to present a topic related to space —geographic or otherwise.

  • 1 supplemental video

Citation Map: Visualizing the Spread of Scientific Ideas through Space and Time

This video was recorded live at the annual Spatial Lightning Talks on February 27, 2013 at the Mosher Alumni House, UC Santa Barbara. Each speaker was allotted three minutes to present a topic related to space geographic or otherwise.

  • 1 supplemental video

UCSB Business Continuity Manager

This video was recorded live at the annual Spatial Lightning Talks on February 25, 2015 at the Mosher Alumni House, UC Santa Barbara. Each speaker was allotted three minutes to present a topic related to space—geographic or otherwise.

  • 1 supplemental video
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Specialist Meeting Position Papers and Reports (14)

Spatial Search, Position Papers

The Spatial Search specialist meeting in Santa Barbara (December 2014) brought together 35 academic and industry representatives from computational, geospatial, and cognitive sciences with interest in focused discussions on the development of an interdisciplinary research agenda to advance spatial search from scientific and engineering viewpoints. The position papers from participants represent the shared expertise that guided discussions and the formulation of research questions about processes of spatial search and about the conceptual ideas, infrasturctures, and tools needed to enhance the search experience in both physical and virtual spaces. The call for position papers is included.

Volunteered Geographic Information, Introduction and Position Papers

This flier provides a brief description of a workshop hosted in Santa Barbara on volunteered geographic information (VGI). Discussions focused on citizen motivations to provide information in the public domain, methods to validate such information, and ideas about the potentials and limitations to VGI. More than 40 position papers on these challenges are presented.

Spatio-Temporal Constraints on Social Networks, Position Papers

In advance of the meeting, 34 researchers prepared position statements on the following kinds of questions:

• What is the current state of knowledge with respect to spatiotemporal constraints on social networks and informationflows, particularly from a meta-network perspective?

• How can theories of social network interaction be extended to incorporate the constraining effects of space, time, theInternet, and mass media?

• Can probability distributions be developed for networks or network metrics that are parameterized by spatial andtemporal separation?

• What rich sources of data can be found to calibrate and parameterize these new models?

• What new metrics and models can be developed for assessing critical nodes, groups, and trails in and throughnetworks that take spatio-temporal constraints, the Internet, and mass-media effects into account?

• Can we develop novel methods for visualizing the operation of spatio-temporal constraints and their effects on the flow of ideas and information through meta-networks?

• What methods of inference are appropriate for detection of spatio-temporal and network constraints in crowd-sourced data, and what are appropriate metrics of uncertainty?

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Spatial Data Science Symposium 2021 Short Paper Proceedings (12)
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Spatial Data Science Symposium 2022 Short Paper Proceedings (7)

Towards Natural Language Interfaces for Interacting with Remote Sensing Data

Image captioning and visual question answering are exciting problems that combine natural language processing and computer vision, currently attracting a significant interest. Some previous efforts have looked into these problems in the context of remote sensing imagery, opening a wide range of possibilities in terms of human interaction with these data through natural language. Still, the components that are involved in previously proposed models can be significantly improved, and evaluation has also mostly been carried out on relatively small datasets, often built automatically and without much diversity. This vision paper briefly surveys the current state-of-the-art in vision and language methods dealing with remote sensing data, also discussing some of the open challenges and possibilities for future work.

Improving the LandScan USA Non-Obligate Population Estimate (NOPE)

Where do people go when they have nowhere to be? Nonobligate activities are a significant part of our social and cultural lives, but there are no existing large scale data which characterize spatial variability in population allocation for these activities. As large scale population estimates have ever-finer resolutions, gaps in our ability to estimate this population segment have an increasingly large impact on high resolution population estimates. In this paper, we demonstrate an improved method for estimating the spatial allocation of the non-obligate population - people who are not at work, school, or in another residential institution. This method builds upon on anonymized and aggregate data on visits to public places, allocating the non-obligate population proportionally to worker population while accounting for the estimated ratio of visitors to workers in public places.

Extending the Conversation: A Vision for Urban Accessibility for Diverse Mobilities through GeoAI

This paper envisions creating more inclusive communities through accessible urban places for not only those who identify as disabled but all equity-deserving groups. Concentrating on the street scale of the urban places, we propose identifying street scale accessibility features, and then, with the help of spatial data science and geospatial artificial intelligence, collecting and analyzing reliable data on these features to assess the accessibility of the urban places for movement diversity.

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