The three special activities at the ISPRS2020 Nice (FR): Two theme sessions & one tutorial

An active ISPRS Congress is ahead of us! Our working group will chair several regular sessions (we are the ‘area chair’ for geovisualization, virtual and augmented reality sessions), two theme sessions and offer one tutorial. Both for regular sessions and theme sessions, you are welcome to use the congress’ interface to submit your contributions by 3rd of February, 2010 start here:

The tutorial does not require contributions but at some point you will need to sign up for it. What tutorial, you might ask. Below you can find the information on both the two theme sessions and the tutorial:

1) Thematic session Digital twins: Vision papers
Arzu Çöltekin, Chris Pettit, Sidonie Christophe and Victoria Rautenbach

2) Thematic session SimVisu: Visualization of complex spatio-temporal data & phenomena

3) Tutorial: An open catalogue for geospatial educational resources


Thematic session II: SimVisu

ISPRS2020 Thematic session
SimVisu2020Visualization of complex spatio-temporal data and phenomena on earth“.

Organizers: Sidonie Christophe,  Arzu Cöltekin, Christopher Pettit, Victoria Rautenbach, for the ISPRS WG IV

The purpose is to bring closer simulation, prediction, learning models to geovisualization and geovisual analytics, to ease the visuo-spatial reasoning on the complex data and phenomena we could observe, learn, predict and simulate.

The objective of this thematic session is to make researchers have a new perspective on their way to interpret their models and results. This thematic session aims at favoring a new dynamic of interdisciplinary research, between methodological communities based on spatial applications, for climate change issues. We expect abstract or full papers addressing:

– visualization or visual analysis and reasoning methods to support perception and interpretation of spatio-temporal data and related phenomena (..)

– analysis and interpretation of spatial data, potentially requiring additional visual and interactive methods: how could geovisualization, at any spatio-temporal scales (…)

There is a need here to bring closer spatial, topographic, physical observations and models, and approaches, models and experiments for visualization and visual reasoning, on many possible applications, such as the following, but not exhaustive ones:

  • Climate change simulation, urban climate, climate data visualization, urban heat islands;
  • Air pollution, pollutant dispersion;
  • Meteorological or weather prediction;
  • Water rising, flash flooding, marine submersion, tsunami simulation and scenarii;
  • Geosciences, earthquakes and cryosphere assessment and monitoring;
  • Spatial dynamics of land cover use or terrain on long-term scale;
  • Simulation of past or future urban morphology dynamics;
  • High temporal change detection, detection of high frequency events or weak signals;
  • Acoustic signal, microwave lengths, wind flow into streets;
  • Adaptive user interaction with learning models.

For more details: The CFP is attached to this e-mail, be careful the deadline submission is soon (3rd February 2020).

Feel free also to share this CFP in your communities and related ones, because the aim is to bring together researchers from different research communities interested into climate change issues.


Important dates:
3 February 2020: Deadline for abstracts & full papers.
2 March 2020: Notification for abstracts.
30 March 2020: Notification for full papers.
14-20 June 2020: ISPRS 2020 Conference

How to proceed to submit A specific track will be created in the Conference Managing System in order to smoothly follow the papers of each session. It will be entitled “TS_SimVisu”. The papers will be reviewed through the regular stream. If a sufficient number of (abstract or full) papers is accepted, a specific thematic session will be set up.

Tutorial at the ISPRS congress: Open content for geospatial education

An open catalogue for geospatial educational resources  
Tutorial presenters: Serena Coetzee, Victoria Rautenbach, Arzu Çöltekin, Chris Pettit, Sidonie Christophe, Marguerite Madden, Ochiroo Lkhamjav

Existing geospatial educational resources (e.g. electronic textbooks, tutorials, and quizzes) are not always easy to find and to integrate into an academic module, amongst others, because the required metadata is not available. As a consequence, simple search attempts do not bring us to these resources, and we miss out on some material that may be very useful in teaching and learning. As part of the ISPRS Education and Capacity Building Initiatives 2018, we developed a searchable catalogue of existing geospatial educational resources that can be used by communities, such as ISPRS or GeoForAll, universities and other educational institutions. The catalogue indexes geospatial educational resources so that the resources can be searched and discovered. Based on the metadata, educators can select appropriate educational resources for integration into an educational event, such as an online course or a module at university level.

During this tutorial, participants will learn how to add, edit and search for educational resources in the pilot catalogue. Subsequently, we will discuss the usability of the metadata elements selected for the prototype and come up with recommendations to improve the overall usability of the catalogue. At the moment, some of the elements are not self-explanatory and would be a barrier for wider use. Additionally, the tutorial will be used to plan the future and next phase of the catalogue.

Following topics will be covered during the tutorial:

• Overview of the pilot catalogue of geospatial educational resources, including how to add and update resources, and how to search for resources
• Review of metadata standards for describing educational resources
• Discussion of the metadata element used in the pilot catalogue
• Discussion on the future and next phase of the catalogue

Target audience: Educators at secondary and tertiary level
Expected number of participants: 40 participants
Duration: Half day session

Resources that will be distributed: The pilot catalogue ( is available online and metadata standards for describing educational resources will be made available electronically. Participants have to bring their own laptops.

Digital twins theme session in ISPRS 2020

Call for papers for a thematic session at the ISPRS 2020

Digital twins: Vision papers

Organizers: Arzu Çöltekin, Chris Pettit, Sidonie Christophe and Victoria Rautenbach
Deadline: 3rd of February

As part of the “ISPRS Olympics” (the global international congress that takes place every fourth year) ISPRS2020 in Nice, we are organizing a thematic session on Digital Twins.

With the advent of better functioning and more affordable extended reality displays (virtual, augmented, mixed reality) than before, and real time ‘spatial computing’, we might be at a turning point where the Digital Earth vision from decades ago is closer to becoming a reality. Driven by the same technological developments, the term digital twins gained popularity in recent years.

As a concept, the term ‘digital twin’ appears to be somewhat flexibly used. What is clearly established is that a digital twin of any object must have a visual representation; thus a virtual object must exist  whether it is included in virtual, augmented or mixed reality. Ideally, these virtual objects (digital twins) mimic their physical counterpart in controllable ways (and can impact their physical twins too). Adding big data, IoT, 3D modelling, machine learning and artificial intelligence in the mix, the digital twin concept becomes enticing as it promises a  plethora of very meaningful use cases from manufacturing through surgeries to digital preservation which  may eventually be our ticket to time travel.

Given the rising popularity of the concept (and the term) in recent years, its clear connections to photogrammetry, and obvious links to the concept of Digital Earth; we propose that we hold a theme session on visionary papers. As such we expect statements, commentary and position papers that examine where we are now and what the future directions are.

We welcome a broad range of papers such as, but not limited to, the following;

• critical reflections on the digital twin concept
• discussing the implications of digital twins in real world
adoption (opportunities, threats, ethics, security, privacy)
• discussing their possible societal and cognitive impact in
various domains (education, asset management, city planning,
manufacturing, cultural documentation, crime scene analysis,
entertainment, etc.) and for various user groups (children, older
adults, professionals, etc.)
• proposing methodological procedure(s) for e.g., automating the
creation of digital twins

• identifying gaps in our current practices

• outlining solutions

• presenting real-world case studies

Submission information can be found here:

Note that both ISPRS Archives (where the short papers would go) and ISPRS Annals (where the long papers would go) are both open access and are indexed by Scopus (if this matters to your institution). You can submit short or long contributions in this track. Papers will go through the standard review process of the ISPRS. We are looking forward to your submissions.

IJGI Journal Special Issue: “Human-Centered Geovisual Analytics and Visuospatial Display Design”

A few of us are involved in organizing a journal special issue, loosely linked to the three events (see the previous post) this year. If you work on geovisual analytics/geovisualization and modern cartographic considerations for visual analytics/geovis (from a “display design” perspective), this may be for you. Note that this is an open access publication, this means there’s an article processing charge of CHF1000. This is nothing to do with the guest editorial team, it’s completely managed by the journal. However, the journal was willing to hear waiver/discount requests, so if you do not have the funds from your department/library/funding agency, and you still want to play, we still encourage you to consider.

Everything you need to know is here:

Also important to note that:

  • An expression of interest with a 200-word abstract should be sent to the editorial team latest by 15th of August 2018 at the email address Please also mention if you will need a discount or waiver on the open access fees. If your institution has funds for open access publications, please consider that others might not, before asking for the waiver or discount.
  • Deadline for full paper submissions: 15 November 2018

The three events of 2018

Our working group is involved in organizing three events this year. Below you will find a summary and links to relevant event pages. Feel free to spread the word!

1) Workshop on Reproducibility in Cartography
Led by ICA’s CogViz Commission. April 27th 2018, Olomouc, Czech Republic

2) Workshop on Virtual environments as geo/spatial labs
At the Spatial Cognition Conference. September 5th 2018, Tuebingen,

3) Theme session on Virtual & Augmented Reality: Technology, Design &
Human Factors
At the ISPRS Midterm symposium by the Spatial Information Sciences commission.  October 3rd, 2018, WED 09:00-12:30 Delft
(+two regular conference sessions on geovis/AR/VR)

PhD project: Using 3D geovisualisations for urban design: The case of informal settlement upgrading in South Africa

We are starting a new thread in our blog! We will be featuring interesting scientific work done by our members or in our extended community once in a while. We begin by a recently completed PhD thesis, by our working group secretary Dr. Victoria Rautenbach. Victoria (relatively recently, and very successfully) completed her PhD at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. In this post, we provide a summary of Victoria’s PhD project, and link to some of the related publications for those who wish to dig deeper.

ps. On a side note, here’s a lovely moment of cultural fusion in Victoria’s graduation ceremony:


Using 3D geovisualisations for urban design: The case of informal settlement upgrading in South Africa

Informal settlements are a common occurrence in South African due to housing backlogs and shortage of housing subsidies, and are often located on disputed land. To improve in-situ circumstances of these communities, informal settlement upgrades and urban design is required. Spatial data and maps are essential throughout the entire upgrading and urban design process in order to understand the current environment, plan new developments and communicate planned developments. All stakeholders need to understand maps to ensure active participation in the urban design process. Many researchers proclaimed that because 3D visualisations resemble the real environment more than traditional maps, and are more intuitive, therefore 3D geovisualisations are easier to interpret. The question arises whether 3D geovisualisations can support and even benefit the urban design process, in the context of this thesis, specifically for upgrading of South African informal settlements.

To investigate the use of 3D geovisualisation, the following topics needs to be investigated: modelling processes (manual and procedural); visual design (visual characteristics, visual complexity and visual variables); and cognition related to spatial tasks on 3D geovisualisations and comparable alternatives (i.e. topographic maps, aerial photographs, 2D maps) when performing basic map reading tasks. They found that procedural modelling was found to be a feasible alternative to time-consuming manual modelling and has the capabilities to produce high-quality models. The results of four user studies and expert interviews contributed to understanding the impact of various levels of complexity in 3D city models and map literacy of future geoinformatics and planning professionals when using aerial photographs, 2D maps and 3D models. The research results could assist planners in designing suitable 3D models for use throughout the entire urban design process.

Relevant publications to this project:

Rautenbach, V., Coetzee, S. & Çöltekin, A. (2017) Development and evaluation of a specialized task taxonomy for spatial planning – A map literacy experiment with topographic maps. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, In press. DOI: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2016.06.013.

Rautenbach, V., Coetzee, S. & Çöltekin, A. (2016) Investigating the use of 3D geovisualisations for urban design in informal settlement upgrading in South Africa. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences (ISPRS Archives), Volume XLI-B2, 2016 XXIII ISPRS Congress, 12–19 July 2016, Prague, Czech Republic.

Rautenbach, V., Bevis, Y., Coetzee, S. & Combrinck, C. (2015) Evaluating procedural modelling for 3D models of informal settlements in urban design activities. South African Journal of Science, 111(11/12), DOI: 10.17159/sajs.2015/20150100.

Rautenbach, V., Coetzee, S. Schiewe, J. & Çöltekin, A. (2015) An Assessment of Visual Variables for the Cartographic Design of 3D Informal Settlement Models. 27th International Cartographic Conference. 23–28 August 2015, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rautenbach, V., Çöltekin, A. & Coetzee, S (2015) Exploring the Impact of Visual Complexity Levels in 3D City Models on the Accuracy of Individuals’ Orientation and Cognitive Maps, ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume II-3/W5, 2015 ISPRS Geospatial Week 2015, 28 Sep–03 Oct 2015, La Grande Motte, France

Rautenbach, V., Coetzee, S. & Çöltekin, A. (2014) Towards evaluating the map literacy of planners in 2D maps and 3D models in South Africa. AfricaGEO 2014 Conference Proceedings. 1–3 July 2014, Cape Town, South Africa.

The thesis itself is here.

Computer Science / Geovis PhD position at the University of Zurich

Open position for a PhD student in computer science in the area of geographic visualization at the University of Zürich. This position is for a PhD student participating in a Swiss National Science Foundation funded project. See the description, benefits and requirements here:

Geovis/AR/VR Special sessions at the AAG – call for contributions

One of our active members, Prof. Alex Klippel of PennState, is leading (and we are helping) a few special sessions at the American Association of Geographers (AAG) annual meeting on topics that are core interest to our working group. Please see the call for contributions below, and feel free to distribute this to your networks.

If you are interested, please send your PIN to klippel (at) by November 17th, 2016. If this language confuses you as it once did to me (i.e., “what PIN”?), you probably have never been to AAG ;). It’s something AAG participants get and is used for coordinating, explore the conference information here:

-Arzu & the WG team

Call for contributions

AAG Meeting 2017, Boston, MA, USA

April 5-9, 2017

Session sponsored by:
Cartography Specialty Group
GIScience Specialty Group

Session title: 3D Virtual and Augmented Realities for Geoinformation Science

Recent developments in 3D virtual and augmented reality technologies have spurred industry, research, and education developments that will effect (geo) spatial information science intimately. The ease of accessing 3D information through environmental sensors (Photogrammetry, LiDAR, or 360 degree cameras) and modeling efforts using, for example, ESRI CityEngine or Google SketchUp, allow for creating efficient workflows from environments to digital, interactive 3D models. In parallel, the virtual and augmented technology industry has made substantial progress to provide products that allow VR and AR to enter both mainstream and research in unprecedented ways. The quality and affordability of products such as Oculus Rift, Samsung GearVR, Zeiss VR One, to name just a few, allow for immersive and augmented experiences that have been unparalleled so far.

The proposed sessions continues the inaugural meeting in San Francisco. The opportunities for (geo) spatial information science research and applications are vast, and it is time to provide a forum for discussing industry, research, and education developments that address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

– Efficient workflows for 3D environmental modeling for built and natural environments,
– 3D modeling software for 3D geoinformation modeling,
– Game engines in geospatial research and education,
– Virtual and mixed realities,
– Augmented reality games (e.g., Pokemon Go),
– Spatial temporal data visualization in VR,
– Immersive Visual Analytics,
– Big data visualization and VR,
– User experiences in Geovirtual Environments,
– Accessories for 3D modeling and VR (e.g., 360 degree cameras),
– Digital Cultural Heritage

Organisers: Alexander Klippel (Geography, The Pennsylvania State University), Danielle Oprean (Architecture/Landscape Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University), Craig McCabe (ESRI), Sven Fuhrmann (Geography and Geoinformation Science, George Mason University), Arzu Çöltekin (Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland), Robert Stewart (Geographic Information Science and Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Christopher Petit (Urban Science / City Futures, University of New South Wales, Australia).

For more information, please contact Dr. Alexander Klippel
( Please send your PIN to by November
17th, 2016 if you are interested in presenting in this session.

New name, new team for our WG

During the last ISPRS meeting in Prague, there was a restructuring of the Commissions and Working Groups. Below you will find a summary of the changes:

Name change: Our commission (Spatial Information Science) is now Commission IV, and our working groups is WG IV/9. We also modified the name of the WG slightly, and now we are called “Geovisualization, Augmented and Virtual Reality“.

Team change: We also have some changes in our team. Our past co-chair Dr. Bo Wu decided to step down from the executive committee but remains an active member. We are thankful for Bo’s executive contributions for the last two terms. For the new term, we warmly welcome Dr. Sidonie Christophe of IGN, who is also a co-chair at the ICA commission on Cognitive Visualization. We are looking forward to collaborating more on cognitive and human centered issues. Furthermore, myself and Dr. Chris Pettit have swapped hats (chair <–> co-chair) and I will chair the group for the next four years, while Chris remains actively involved as a co-chair in our executive team. Victoria also continues for another term in her role in our executive team. We are excited to build a community around the topics of (human-centered) geovisualization, augmented and virtual reality. If you wish to collaborate with us, please become a member, and if you wish to organize activities (workshops, special issues and such) under our WG’s umbrella, please drop as an email and we’ll have a conversation. You will find our ‘terms of reference’ below the image.


Terms of reference

  • Enhanced communication of geographic information and knowledge
  • Geovisual analytics for (small and) big data exploration
  • Usability testing and empirical experiments related to spatial cognition and visualization
  • Geographic visualization of multi-dimensional data
  • Novel methods and tools for exploring and visualizing geographic decision spaces
  • Platforms supporting geographical visualization including the web and mobile devices
  • Geographic visualization of crowd sourced, social media, and government databases
  • Development, application and evaluations of immersive and semi-immersive virtual reality visualization environments
  • Virtual and augmented reality representations of space, place and time

More will follow soon!