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HCIL BBL: Exploring dimensions of ‘place’

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HCIL (2105 Hornbake, South Wing)


Place is one of the foundational concepts on which the field of Geographical Sciences has been built. Traditionally, geographic information science research into place has been approached from a spatial perspective. While space is an integral feature of place, it represents only a single dimension (or a combination of three dimensions to be exact), in the complex, multidimensional concept that is place. With the increased availability of large, user-generated datasets, it has becoming increasingly apparent that the value of ‘big data’ lies not necessarily in its size, but in its heterogeneity. In my research, I exploit this heterogeneity to build computational, data-driven models of human behavior, taking a multi-dimensional approach to investigating place and the activities people carry out at those places. In this talk I introduce the concept of Semantic Signatures built from spatial, temporal and thematic dimensions extracted from user-contributed, and authoritative datasets. I show how these signatures can enhance existing geolocation methods, form the foundation of place-similarity models and contribute to visualizing the platial pulse of a city.


Grant McKenzie is an assistant professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, affiliate of the Center for Geospatial Information Science and director of the Place Time Analysis Lab. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara (2015) and a Master of Applied Science degree from the University of Melbourne (2008). Grant’s research interests lie in spatio-temporal data analysis, geovisualization, place-based data analytics and the intersection of information technologies and society. More information on D. Grant McKenzie and his research can be found at and