CartoTalk Lynn Usery: A Semantic Approach to Cartography

We are happy to announce a CartoTalk by Lynn Usery, U.S. Geological Survey, on  Wednesday, 9 May 2018.

Abstract: The discipline of cartography has traditionally advanced with technological innovation. Hand-drawn maps, copper plate engraving, pen and ink developments, photographic film, scribecoat, and computer-assisted mapping represent innovations that changed cartographic theory and practice. The development and evolution of the World-Wide Web and the Semantic Web are changing cartography to be more interactive, inclusive, ubiquitous, and provide for mapping concepts, ideas, emotions, and other human phenomena not previously mapped. These advances also provide for machine interpretation of maps as knowledgebases representing a new stage in the evolution of cartography in which maps become the basis of artificial intelligence applications, such as self-driving cars and new business models based on map availability to machines and humans using those machines. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is creating semantic representations of topographic maps to support human and machine interpretation and applications of geospatial data. This presentation documents the basis of this representation and production using Semantic Web technologies. The USGS has developed a geospatial ontology for topographic map data and converted specific datasets from The National Map to the Resource Description Framework (RDF) triple model of subject, predicate, and object on the Semantic Web. The process involves representing the ontology and the instance data, i.e., feature identifiers, coordinates, attributes, and relationships of the geospatial entities, in RDF as a triplestore and knowledgebase. The guiding concept to this work is the map as a knowledge base. The map itself becomes an interactive window to access the knowledgebase (triplestore) through direct query with the SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language and/or through a point and click interface in which clicking any geographic feature on the interactive graphic spawns a browseable graph approach providing the characteristics of that feature and connecting to associated features in the Linked Open Data cloud.

E. Lynn Usery is a Senior Scientist of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Director of the Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS). He worked as a cartographer and geographer for the USGS for more than 28 years and a professor of geography for 17 years with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Georgia. He served as President of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS), and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). He is a Fellow of CaGIS and UCGIS, and received the CaGIS Distinguished Career Award in 2012. Dr. Usery is currently Vice-President of the International Cartographic Association. His primary research areas are in theoretical cartography and geographic information science, geospatial semantics and ontology, high-performance computing and CyberGIS, map projections, spatial data models, and data integration.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018, 11:00
EI 1 (Petritsch Hörsaal)
Gußhausstraße 25, Stiege VIII, 2nd floor

CartoTalk Menno-Jan Kraak: Temporal aspects of O-D matrix visualizations

We are happy to announce a CartoTalk by Menno-Jan Kraak, University of Twente, on  Wednesday, 9 May 2018.

Abstract: The content of an Origin and Destination matrix informs about the nature of movement and connectivity between locations. These could be point locations, like airports, or regions, like countries. The type of movement or flow can be qualitative (different airline flying between two airports) or quantitative (the number of migrants between two countries), or both. Traditionally this type of data is visualized in flowmaps. In these maps flows are often represented by arrows of different colors and width to represent the character of the flow between an origin and a destination. However, flow maps also tent to become quickly visually cluttered. Additional problems arise when time series have to be displayed too. How to solve this problem? A link between alternative visualizations, such as cartograms, chord diagrams, tree maps etc. could be useful, but in some of these alternative approaches the geography gets lost and time is lacking. In our suggested solution we concentrate on the design of alternative visualizations of the matrix itself. The matrix represents attribute space and will be linked to the (flow) map. The presentation will discuss several options on how to include time in these visualizations as well. Among the alternatives are several three-dimensional designs that allow for interaction to brush time

Menno-Jan Kraak is professor of Geovisual Analytics and Cartography at the University of Twente / ITC. Currently he is head of ITC’s Geo-Information Processing Department. He is also President of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) for the period 2015-2019. He wrote more than 200 publications, among them the books ‘Cartography, visualization of geospatial data’ (with Ormeling) , and ‘Mapping time’. He is a member of the editorial board of several international journals in the field of Cartography and GIScience.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018, 10:00
EI 1 (Petritsch Hörsaal)
Gußhausstraße 25, Stiege VIII, 2nd floor

Meet & greet with representatives of all 4 partner universities of the International Master in Cartography

The Research Group Cartography is currently hosting a meeting of representatives of all partner universities of the International Cartography Master program. We are happy to welcome program coordinator Juliane Cron from Technische Universität München, Liqiu Meng from Technische Universität München, Nikolas Prechtel from TU Dresden, and Corné van Elzakker from ITC – University of Twente.

The students from the 7th intake, who are spending the summer semester 2018 at TU Wien, will have the chance to meet the colleagues from Munich, Dresden, and Twente, and to get information about upcoming classes and excursions.

To find out more about the International Master in Cartography, please visit

CartoTalk Amy Griffin: The user is the centre of the universe – Designing interactive maps for end users

We are happy to announce this year’s first  CartoTalk by Amy Griffin, RMIT University in Melbourne, on Monday, 23 April 2018.

Abstract: The task of the cartographer has become in some ways much easier since the advent of computers. For example, you no longer have to worry about smearing ink from your scribing pen or pasting Zipatone onto your overlay. A few clicks on a computer and it’s possible to create a basic map. Yet, in other ways cartographers face more challenges than they ever have before. People now use maps in many more places and to support many more tasks than they did in the past, and there is a bewildering array of different devices upon which maps can be displayed. Our behaviour with maps has also changed. Some people simply blindly follow where the GPS tells them to go, occasionally resulting in their injury or death (Milner 2016). Many others of us don’t bother to look at a map before we set out to find our way to a new place because we know that we can pull a phone out of our pocket along the way to check our location. And maps now respond to user inputs in ways in which they could not when they were simply printed on paper. For example, touchscreen displays coupled with internet access allow almost instantaneous and (almost) effortless panning and zooming. Yet, these new interactions lead to cognitive challenges that did not exist when viewing a paper map, whose full extent can be taken in at a glance – locating a zoomed map extent’s location relative to the full map extent.

While cartographers have directed attention to thinking about the map’s purpose and a few limited kinds of map user characteristics for some time, the philosophy of user-centred design, which systematises some of this thinking, arose in the 1980s and these ideas began to be applied more directly within cartography in the mid to late 1990s. New ideas have since expanded the remit of factors considered in user centred design to include interaction design (Cooper et al 2014), user experience design (Norman 2013), and the consideration of emotions in addition to classical cartographic thinking about map perception and cognition. In this presentation, Amy Griffin will provide an overview of the user-centred design process and the methods and techniques they use to do user-centred cartographic design (e.g., user requirements analysis, formative evaluation, eye-tracking), as well as where the state of the art stands in terms of new thinking about user-centred design as it can be applied to cartography (Roth, 2015; Griffin et al., 2017).

Amy Griffin is a Senior Lecturer in Geospatial Science in the School of Science at RMIT University in Melbourne. She’s the co-chair of the ICA Commission on Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Visualisation. Her research interests include perceptual, cognitive and affective issues related to geographic information use, applications of GIS to historical geography, and GIScience applications to health geography. 

Monday, 23 April 2018, 9:15-10:45
Seminar room 127, Gußhausstraße 27-29, 3rd floor

Master thesis presentations

We congratulate Kaidi Guo and Christopher Hogg for finishing their International Master in Cartography!

  • Kaidi Guo discussed her findings on “Spatial-temporal analysis of international connections based on textual social media data”.
  • Christopher Hogg presented his thesis on “An investigation in the requirements and design of an online cartographic data comic editor”.

Well done and best wishes for your future careers!

Internationaler Master in Kartographie erhält erneut begehrte Erasmus-Mundus-Förderung

Die Exekutivagentur Bildung, Audiovisuelles und Kultur der Europäischen Kommission (EACEA) fördert durch ihr Programm Erasmus+ Studierenden-Mobilität im Rahmen von Joint Master Degrees. Das an der TU Wien eingerichtete Masterstudium Kartographie konnte bereits in der Förderrunde 2014 diese begehrte Förderung für drei Jahre erringen. Es ist umso erfreulicher, dass dies in der aktuellen Runde erneut gelungen ist und die Kartographie unter den 38 erfolgreichen Programmen ist (bei 116 Anträgen). Das der TU Wien berichtet dazu.

Nähere Informationen zum Studium finden sich auf der neuen Programm-Website

Bachelor thesis presentations

Congratulations to our students who just presented their bachelor theses successfully:

  • Kathrin Theil discussed “Möglichkeiten der Implementierung von Weltkarten für einfache thematische Anwendungen im Web”.
  • Alina Florian shared her findings on “Wahrnehmung von Farbe in Orientierungslaufkarten” .

Well done and best wishes for your future careers!

Thanks to our students for your feedback!

Every semester students are given the opportunity to anonymously evaluate their classes. A big thanks to all our students who shared their feedback on our classes held in summer term 2017!

Student feedback for Cartographic Information Systems:

Very considerate lecturers according to problems in the exercise and questions in the lecture. Very useful topics!

Student feedback for Thematic Cartography in Regional Planning:

Für mich eine der besten und interessantesten übungen bisher. Die übungen waren gut beschrieben und verständlich. Die dafür aufgebrachte zeit war angemessen. Man hat einiges mitnehmen können, was für zukünftige kartengestaltungen/kartenerstellungen von nutzen sein wird. Eine der wenigen übungen auf die man sich gefreut hat.

Student feedback for Web Mapping:

Extremely satisfied.

Student feedback for Programming Cartographic Tasks (winner of TU’s Best Lecture Award 2017):

Gut aufgebaute Vorlesung mit den Unterlagen die immer auf dem aktuellen Stand online zur Verfügung standen. Die Bereitstellung des Codes der Beispiele aus der Vorlseung war ein guter Service und Impulsgeber für die Druchfürhung der Programmierbeispiele. Das optionale Angebot des JavaScript Kurs und die Motivation des Vortragenenden auf jede Frage sofort – auch außerhalb der Vorlesungszeit – mit der Antwort zu dienen ist sehr hervorzuheben.

Student feedback for Location Based Services:

The combination of lectures and project turned out to be a very good combination in and motivating for exploring the topic.

Student feedback for Applied Cartography:

Die ohnehin schon sehr spannenden Inhalte wurden sehr anschaulich und verständlich an die StudentInnen übermittelt. Zudem boten die Vorlesungseinheiten eine gute Vorbereitung für die zu absolvierenden Übungsaufgaben.

Georg Gartner on air – talking about latest trends in cartography

The Austrian national radio station Ö1 invited Georg Gartner to discuss the latest trends in modern cartography. Listen to the interview at Punkt eins.

“Ohne Karten wären wir räumlich blind”, sagt der Kartograph und Geograph Georg Gartner. “Karten sind ein elementares Mittel der Kommunikation für Menschen, denn alles findet irgendwo statt, hat sozusagen einen Ortsbezug”.