14th September, 2011 16:00-18:00

Spatial thinking and Geographic Information Science: Contemporary and Future developments

Michael F. Goodchild and Michael Batty


Spatial Thinking and the GIS User Interface
Michael Goodchild

Geographic information science can be defined as the study of the fundamental issues of geographic information, and is often motivated by the need to improve geographic information technologies. One such issue concerns the design of the user interface, and the relationship between the tasks performed by the technologies, and the concepts that humans use in thinking about those tasks. Nowhere is this issue more important than in the design of GIS user interfaces and functionality. Recent efforts have led to a comprehensive understanding of the concepts of spatial thinking, and of how these concepts might form the basis for a much-improved functionality and user interface. The presentation summarizes those efforts, and points to a future in which GIS will be much easier to teach, master, and use.


Modeling and Simulation in Geographic Information Science: Achievements and Challenges
Michael Batty

The quantitative revolution in geography has been fifty years in the making and during this time, we have made enormous progress in building and implementing models of geographical systems (Batty, 2010). These have been driven by changes in our ability to represent spatial systems in digital terms while the idea that this science must be much richer than was first assumed has led to dramatic developments in how we conceive of systems with great heterogeneity in highly disaggregate, temporally dynamic forms. In this talk, we will review progress in this domain, illustrating how aggregate static but parsimonious models testable using classical scientific methods have given was to much finer scale models whose representation is in terms of individual agents at point locations whose behavior is central to their construction and operation. Processes have become all important in developing such models and there has been a move to develop such models for information rather than prediction. In a world where our very science is changing the way such systems are evolving and one in which ever increasing complexity is making earlier spatial theories less and less relevant, there needs to be new perspectives on how models are articulated, how theory is used to underpin them, how they are validated, and how they are used to inform our understanding and help in the kinds of policy making that is central to the grand challenges that we now face with respect to urbanization, demography, security, energy, and climate change. We will develop this thesis using various examples of urban land use transportation models that we are building for Greater London, using aggregate and disaggregate approaches drawing for the various traditions that have developed over the last fifty years. In this sense, we will reassess the role of geographic information science and suggests ways it might both enrich and be enriched from many cognate perspectives.


  • Speakers
  • Michael F. Goodchild
  • Michael F. Goodchild is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Director of UCSB’s Center for Spatial Studies. He was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and Foreign Member of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006, and Foreign Member of the Royal Society and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2010; and in 2007 he received the Prix Vautrin Lud. He has been editor of many leading journals and serves on the editorial boards of ten other journals and book series, and has published over 15 books and 400 articles. He was Chair of the National Research Council’s Mapping Science Committee from 1997 to 1999, and of the National Science Foundation's Advisory Committee on Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences from 2008 to 2010. His current research interests center on geographic information science, spatial analysis, and uncertainty in geographic data.

  • Michael Batty
  • Michael Batty is Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London where he directs the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA). His research work involves the development of computer models of cities and regions, and he has published many books and articles in this area. His current work focuses on new methods of social physics involving scaling applied to city systems. He was made a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001, and awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2004 for ‘services to geography’. In 2009, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).