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Neogeography of Edmonton's River Valley

Neogeography of Edmonton's River Valley



Place can be defined as the meanings that are created at the confluence of location and activity (Relph, 1976). The places that comprise an urban environment are increasingly networked through the ...

Place can be defined as the meanings that are created at the confluence of location and activity (Relph, 1976). The places that comprise an urban environment are increasingly networked through the ubiquitous disbursement of connected, hand-held, location-aware mobile devices (Castells, 2004). This, coupled with the evolution of the GeoWeb supporting volunteered geographic information (VGI), is defining a key method of citizen engagement with spatial data and information. Specifically, citizens are able to communicate place-based information through these technologies. These emerging phenomena give rise to some pertinent questions: (1) To what extent are GPS systems able to capture users' understanding of location, and; (2) How do people contribute spatial information to the GeoWeb?
Using a case study method that centered on Edmonton’s river valley trail network, 17 informants were interviewed regarding their use of GPS devices in the capture and communication of spatial information, and their corresponding knowledge of place. Our findings indicate that people possess and are able to articulate place knowledge that is deep and personally meaningful, especially in regards to parts of the river valley they use and enjoy most often. However, location-aware mobile devices do not currently provide the tools necessary to communicate users' deep understanding. We conclude that current web based maps that support VGI only allow for a small portion of knowledge to be uploaded. This knowledge is restricted to the structure or form of a place, rather than its meanings or context.



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  • Matthew DanceI am a recent MA graduated from Human Geography here at the UofA. This presentation is based on the results from my thesis research, and will outline my findings relevant to the NeoGoe of Edmonton.
  • To accomplish this, I will describe the purpose & setting of this research, describe the context and explain the research methods used, present some of the results and discuss those results.I will end by thanking those many people who contributed to my research.
  • The geoweb, and notions of neogeography are an ever evolving topic of research. My intent was to connect rich human geography tradition of place-based enquiry to the emerging GeoWebMotivation is two fold:1/ To understand the shifting nature of ‘public’ ‘participation’ at a time when these terms are being redefined by the internet (in general) and the GeoWeb (in specific).2/ To explore an individuals knowledge of place and connect that knowledge to what might be expressed using the tools of the GeoWeb.These are my research questions, and they span the theoretical domains of PPGIS, the GeoWeb including neogeography and VGI
  • NSR runs through Edmonton, with a population of 1.1 million, from the SW to the NE. This ribbon of green plays host to: over 160 KM of maintained multi-use trailAnd 450 KM of unimproved trails and isVisited by 10 million people per year.Numerous parks, including Terwillager, Hawrelak, Kinsmen, Mill Creek and Gold Bar, in addition the extensive trail networkHost these visits.
  • The context is:As place based technologies – or location based services tend toward the ubiquitous, a narrative that has emerged that promises an almost utopian GeoWeb that enables a broader citizen collaboration through technology, such as Open311, that marries a smartphone’s GPS with the GeoWeb and VGI.
  • Qualitative methodology as a means of understanding the human experience and addressing questions of social structure and individual experienceQualitative methods are commonly used in PPGIS and GeoWeb researchCase method is specific to qualitative enquiries and provides an encompassing research strategy thatUtilizes and combines several techniques such as S-S Interview, use of documents and other primary sources, Discourse analysis was utilized as the main tool of understanding the informants perceptions and attitudes, and to cluster similar attitudes under thematic categories.Those interviewed are normal people, not GeoWeb experts, but rather primarily runners and cyclists who use commonly available hardware and web based tech to document their excursions into the RV.
  • Place is comprised of a locations physical characteristics, the activates that occur there and the meanings derived through the interaction of users with the physical space, and their activites. The emergent data support this notion of place, and tend to cluster around two broad emergent themes: Activity – both recreational and sport, as well as recollection through memories of personal experience, or historic events.The data also identify 5 ditict places within Edmonton -