Moving Beyond the Absolute Space Approach in GIS for Human Dynamics Research
Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor & Arts and Sciences Excellence Professor
Department of Geography
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Due to advances of location-aware technology, mobile technology, and information and communication technology (ICT), we have seen many changes to how people carry out their activities and interactions and how modern urban, economic, social, and political systems transform with these changes. Unprecedented data collection of a wide range of human activities and interactions in both physical and virtual spaces offer an opportunity for us to better understand human dynamics. In the meantime, increasing human activities and interactions in today’s world take place outside the conventional GIS context of locations in absolute space. How an individual is situated relative to other people and entities (i.e., relative space), how an individual is related to other people and entities (i.e., relational space), and how an individual perceives the surrounding environment (i.e., mental space) are all critical to the understanding and analysis of human dynamics from both individual and collective perspectives. Although these different concepts of space are not new in geography, one challenge is to represent and analyze these different kinds of "spatial" data in an integrated environment. This presentation discusses the need of developing a multi-space framework that can handle data related to absolute space, relative space, relational space, and mental space to better support human dynamics research at both individual and collective levels and from local to global scales.