The Neogeography ofEdmonton’s River ValleyMatthew DanceUniversity of Alberta
Presentation Overview• Purpose & Setting• Methods• Context• Results & Discussion– How do people understand place– What can...
Research PurposeTo connect the rich human geography tradition ofplace-based enquiry to the emerging GeoWeb.• To what exten...
EdmontonUniversity of Alberta 4/21Matthew DanceFrom: OpenStreetMap.com
Context1. Place based technologyTending towards ubiquity in high income North American2. GeoWeb3. A utopian promise of cit...
Methods• Qualitative Methodology• Case Study Method– Semi-structured interviews (N=17)• Mental Maps• Place and space• The ...
Results: Emergent Themes& Associated PlacesUniversity of AlbertaTheme HawrelakParkKinsmenParkTerwillagerParkMill CreekPark...
Results: ActivitiesUniversity of Alberta 8/21Matthew Dance
When I run along the river trails a lot of the time, I’m in thetrees which limits views of seeing the city. Also, beingiso...
Results: ActivityUniversity of Alberta 10/21Matthew Dance
Results: DescriptionOh golly, we start somewhere around Hawrelak, so,we’ll throw that in right about here, and I woulddefi...
Results: Memories12/21Matthew Dance
There was a path in the woods there, and we call thatMoonies run because our teacher, Mr. Moonie, lived rightthere. My fri...
Place Understanding• Deep, nuanced and varied understanding.• Rooted in memory coupled with experienceand activity• River ...
University of AlbertaResults: Data GenerationWeb Mobile Data TypesEvan Garmin Connect,FacebookGarminForerunnerGPS trace, h...
University of AlbertaResults: Data Communication16/21Matthew DanceEvanGarmin Connect:Facebook:
Results: Data Work FlowI waypoint, I start a track on my iPhone or Garmin, and then Itake a picture, and then I go on take...
Conclusions (1)• Interview cohort expressed a deepunderstanding of place– Places provide a range of uses, depending onindi...
Conclusions (2)• The GeoWeb is, generally, not able to supportdeep and nuanced citizen contributions• Gaming systems (i.e....
Acknowledgements• The informants, and all who spent time todiscuss this project with me.• My thesis supervisors:– Drs. Ari...
Thank YouMatthew Dance@mattdancematt@matthewdance.ca
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Neogeography of Edmonton's River Valley

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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 -
  • Neogeography of Edmonton's River Valley

    1. 1. The Neogeography ofEdmonton’s River ValleyMatthew DanceUniversity of Alberta
    2. 2. Presentation Overview• Purpose & Setting• Methods• Context• Results & Discussion– How do people understand place– What can technology communicate about this• Conclusions• AcknowledgementsMatthew Dance University of Alberta 2/21
    3. 3. Research PurposeTo connect the rich human geography tradition ofplace-based enquiry to the emerging GeoWeb.• To what extent are GPS systems able to captureusers understanding of place?– How do users’ understand place?• How do people contribute information aboutplace(s) to the GeoWeb?University of Alberta 3/21Matthew Dance
    4. 4. EdmontonUniversity of Alberta 4/21Matthew DanceFrom: OpenStreetMap.com
    5. 5. Context1. Place based technologyTending towards ubiquity in high income North American2. GeoWeb3. A utopian promise of citizen collaboration But … digital divideMatthew Dance University of Alberta 5/21
    6. 6. Methods• Qualitative Methodology• Case Study Method– Semi-structured interviews (N=17)• Mental Maps• Place and space• The GeoWeb– Discourse analysis of transcripts– Primary on-line sources such as Facebook &Garmin ConnectUniversity of Alberta 6/21Matthew Dance
    7. 7. Results: Emergent Themes& Associated PlacesUniversity of AlbertaTheme HawrelakParkKinsmenParkTerwillagerParkMill CreekParkGold BarParkAll OtherLocationsTotalsSports Activity 20 8 0 10 10 14 62Recreational Activity 4 1 9 0 0 6 20Activity Routes 15 18 0 6 5 15 59Impressions 7 0 3 3 4 4 21Memories 0 0 0 0 5 5 10Special Place 0 2 4 0 0 1 6Power 0 0 5 6 4 2 17GeoWeb 2 2 3 5 0 12 24Total Mentions 48 31 24 30 25 59 2207/21Matthew Dance
    8. 8. Results: ActivitiesUniversity of Alberta 8/21Matthew Dance
    9. 9. When I run along the river trails a lot of the time, I’m in thetrees which limits views of seeing the city. Also, beingisolated, depending on where you are in the trails, limitsyou from seeing just you know, lots of other people too.You can be further away from other people as welland I just really appreciate that feeling of being a little bitmore isolated and feeling that connection to nature.MyaResults: DescriptionUniversity of Alberta 9/21Matthew Dance
    10. 10. Results: ActivityUniversity of Alberta 10/21Matthew Dance
    11. 11. Results: DescriptionOh golly, we start somewhere around Hawrelak, so,we’ll throw that in right about here, and I woulddefinitely add an ‘X’ here for the Sugar Bowl,because that’s where you want to end up.NateUniversity of Alberta 11/21Matthew Dance
    12. 12. Results: Memories12/21Matthew Dance
    13. 13. There was a path in the woods there, and we call thatMoonies run because our teacher, Mr. Moonie, lived rightthere. My friend played guitar and I played guitar, and weused to take our amps, carry our amps across back and forthacross the river. At this point here right in the middle of thebridge was we deemed that as perfectly half way, so wewould say, ‘Okay, I’ll meet you on the bridge’. But yeah, Ispent a lot of time down there, in Gold Bar.ChrisResults: DescriptionUniversity of Alberta 13/21Matthew Dance
    14. 14. Place Understanding• Deep, nuanced and varied understanding.• Rooted in memory coupled with experienceand activity• River Valley offers:– Escape from the day to day– Both social and isolation depending on need– A natural environment where routine interactionswith it ‘may shape individual … identity.’ (Collinsand Kearns, 2007, p16)University of Alberta 14/21Matthew Dance
    15. 15. University of AlbertaResults: Data GenerationWeb Mobile Data TypesEvan Garmin Connect,FacebookGarminForerunnerGPS trace, heartrate, time, distance,elevation.Megan Google Earth Garmin eTrex,iPhoneGPS trace, video,photos, GE flythrough visualizationIsabel Google Earth, Map myrunGarminForerunnerGPS trace, time,distanceChris Running map Garmin Forerunner GPS trace, time,distanceJohn OSM Garmin eTrex GPS trace, line,polygons15/21Matthew Dance
    16. 16. University of AlbertaResults: Data Communication16/21Matthew DanceEvanGarmin Connect:Facebook:
    17. 17. Results: Data Work FlowI waypoint, I start a track on my iPhone or Garmin, and then Itake a picture, and then I go on take my iPhone out, and the I goand correlate the picture and waypoint number togetherbecause there’s no way to do it on either of my two devices.Then I go home and load the photos into panoramio.com andthen input the waypoints, and I can then load all of this intoGoogle Earth.MeganUniversity of Alberta 17/22Matthew Dance
    18. 18. Conclusions (1)• Interview cohort expressed a deepunderstanding of place– Places provide a range of uses, depending onindividual need, that can shape a person’s identity.• Current neogeography tools are not able tocapture this depth of understanding– Tools such as Garmin devices or smart phonescapture a very small portion of the experience.Matthew Dance University of Alberta 20/22
    19. 19. Conclusions (2)• The GeoWeb is, generally, not able to supportdeep and nuanced citizen contributions• Gaming systems (i.e.WoW) are a few stepsahead of the GeoWeb, and may provide adirectionUniversity of Alberta 19/22Matthew Dance
    20. 20. Acknowledgements• The informants, and all who spent time todiscuss this project with me.• My thesis supervisors:– Drs. Arie Croitoru, Ofer Arazy, Damian Collins• My family, especially my wife (and primaryfunding source), Erica.Matthew Dance University of Alberta 21/22
    21. 21. Thank YouMatthew Dance@mattdancematt@matthewdance.ca

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