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Re-placing location: geographic perspectives in location based services


Edwardes, A J. Re-placing location: geographic perspectives in location based services. 2007, University of Zurich, Faculty of Science.

Abstract

Bringing geography closer to people’s apprehension of the world has long been a goal
of GIScience. Contextual and pervasive computing together with low cost technologies
for positioning have provided an ideal opportunity to realise such ambitions
because they allow geographic representations of the world to be brought close to
individuals’ engagement with it. Location based services (LBS) are an example
of such a technology. They emphasise the location of a person to scope both the
contents and presentation of information in ways that are contextually relevant.
However, a problem exists that in the rush to tackle the complex set of technical
and economic issues related to the deployment of such services, fundamental
considerations about how geography should be presented and represented are often
missing. Instead, more conventional spatial models for representing geographic and
cartographic information have been shoe-horned to fit the purpose without a full
consideration of how appropriate they may be. These tend to detach the user of the
information from its material origins presenting universal, and static viewpoints in
contrast to the dynamic and ego-centric perspectives innate to the mobile situations
where LBS are employed.
This work examines these issues through a consideration of the problem of defining
‘location’. To undertake this the traditional geographic distinctions of Space,
Place, and Region are drawn on. These are treated both as concepts needing to be
delineated and, perhaps more importantly, as different geographic perspectives that
are employed when people conceive the world, and therefore as paradigms for informing
LBS design. A central thesis posited is that at different times in the design
and use of an LBS, each of these has a more or less important role in how location
and locationally scoped information needs to be represented and portrayed.
The research documented has been undertaken within the context of the joint
European project ‘WebPark’, which has developed a set of location-based services
for visitors to protected and natural areas. A specific focus of the work described
here has been the realisation of an application that allows visitors to access information
about flora and fauna in the Swiss National Park. The description of the
research proceeds by first examining, through the literature, how the triad of Space,
Place and Region relate to different aspects of LBS from a theoretical basis. Based
on these considerations, content analysis of a collection of visitors’ questions is performed.
This considers the ways in which visitors pose questions in protected areas
and how these questions are related to the individual’s context. These analyses are
ii Abstract
then synthesised to formulate a conceptual basis that informs the design of the flora
and fauna service. The main body of the work is then presented. Here, the Model,
View, Controller (MVC) design pattern common to software engineering is used as
an explicative framework for organising the different aspects of the work. The Model
section deals with how spatial and non-geographically referenced data are handled
and how location can be modelled with respect to these. In particular, the perspective
of Region is found to be highly pertinent for defining locations as semantically
relevant geographic entities. In the Controller section the interactional facets of the
service are considered, drawing on the earlier content analysis. The View section
considers the importance of the situational aspects of place in portraying locations
and information related to them. Here the problem dealt with is how to maintain
the role of the map view as a dynamic interface for interaction and orientation under
the stresses imposed by cartographic symbolisation. A set of related techniques
that draw on continuous variable scale transformations are developed. These are
constrained according to the structural features of the map and the intrinsic properties
of the transformed map space. A number of experiments are presented that
allow qualitative and quantitative comparisons to be made between the different
techniques. Finally, a discussion of the application is made, drawing on the results
of user testing performed in the park. Conclusions concerning the appropriateness
of the techniques to the development of location based services are then provided.

Bringing geography closer to people’s apprehension of the world has long been a goal
of GIScience. Contextual and pervasive computing together with low cost technologies
for positioning have provided an ideal opportunity to realise such ambitions
because they allow geographic representations of the world to be brought close to
individuals’ engagement with it. Location based services (LBS) are an example
of such a technology. They emphasise the location of a person to scope both the
contents and presentation of information in ways that are contextually relevant.
However, a problem exists that in the rush to tackle the complex set of technical
and economic issues related to the deployment of such services, fundamental
considerations about how geography should be presented and represented are often
missing. Instead, more conventional spatial models for representing geographic and
cartographic information have been shoe-horned to fit the purpose without a full
consideration of how appropriate they may be. These tend to detach the user of the
information from its material origins presenting universal, and static viewpoints in
contrast to the dynamic and ego-centric perspectives innate to the mobile situations
where LBS are employed.
This work examines these issues through a consideration of the problem of defining
‘location’. To undertake this the traditional geographic distinctions of Space,
Place, and Region are drawn on. These are treated both as concepts needing to be
delineated and, perhaps more importantly, as different geographic perspectives that
are employed when people conceive the world, and therefore as paradigms for informing
LBS design. A central thesis posited is that at different times in the design
and use of an LBS, each of these has a more or less important role in how location
and locationally scoped information needs to be represented and portrayed.
The research documented has been undertaken within the context of the joint
European project ‘WebPark’, which has developed a set of location-based services
for visitors to protected and natural areas. A specific focus of the work described
here has been the realisation of an application that allows visitors to access information
about flora and fauna in the Swiss National Park. The description of the
research proceeds by first examining, through the literature, how the triad of Space,
Place and Region relate to different aspects of LBS from a theoretical basis. Based
on these considerations, content analysis of a collection of visitors’ questions is performed.
This considers the ways in which visitors pose questions in protected areas
and how these questions are related to the individual’s context. These analyses are
ii Abstract
then synthesised to formulate a conceptual basis that informs the design of the flora
and fauna service. The main body of the work is then presented. Here, the Model,
View, Controller (MVC) design pattern common to software engineering is used as
an explicative framework for organising the different aspects of the work. The Model
section deals with how spatial and non-geographically referenced data are handled
and how location can be modelled with respect to these. In particular, the perspective
of Region is found to be highly pertinent for defining locations as semantically
relevant geographic entities. In the Controller section the interactional facets of the
service are considered, drawing on the earlier content analysis. The View section
considers the importance of the situational aspects of place in portraying locations
and information related to them. Here the problem dealt with is how to maintain
the role of the map view as a dynamic interface for interaction and orientation under
the stresses imposed by cartographic symbolisation. A set of related techniques
that draw on continuous variable scale transformations are developed. These are
constrained according to the structural features of the map and the intrinsic properties
of the transformed map space. A number of experiments are presented that
allow qualitative and quantitative comparisons to be made between the different
techniques. Finally, a discussion of the application is made, drawing on the results
of user testing performed in the park. Conclusions concerning the appropriateness
of the techniques to the development of location based services are then provided.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Weibel R, Burghardt D, Mackaness W A
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:26 Mar 2009 05:58
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:28
Number of Pages:228
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=NEBIS&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=005509414
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3760

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