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Sensors 2015, 15(7), 17013-17035; doi:10.3390/s150717013

Contextual Sensing: Integrating Contextual Information with Human and Technical Geo-Sensor Information for Smart Cities

1
Department of Geoinformation and Environmental Technologies, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Europastrasse 4, A-9524 Villach, Austria
2
Department of Geoinformatics—Z_GIS, University of Salzburg, Schillerstrasse 30, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria
3
Department of Geography–Chair of GIScience, Heidelberg University, Berliner Strasse 48, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
4
Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Antonio Puliafito, Symeon Papavassiliou and Dario Bruneo
Received: 7 May 2015 / Revised: 25 June 2015 / Accepted: 29 June 2015 / Published: 14 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors and Smart Cities)
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Abstract

In this article we critically discuss the challenge of integrating contextual information, in particular spatiotemporal contextual information, with human and technical sensor information, which we approach from a geospatial perspective. We start by highlighting the significance of context in general and spatiotemporal context in particular and introduce a smart city model of interactions between humans, the environment, and technology, with context at the common interface. We then focus on both the intentional and the unintentional sensing capabilities of today’s technologies and discuss current technological trends that we consider have the ability to enrich human and technical geo-sensor information with contextual detail. The different types of sensors used to collect contextual information are analyzed and sorted into three groups on the basis of names considering frequently used related terms, and characteristic contextual parameters. These three groups, namely technical in situ sensors, technical remote sensors, and human sensors are analyzed and linked to three dimensions involved in sensing (data generation, geographic phenomena, and type of sensing). In contrast to other scientific publications, we found a large number of technologies and applications using in situ and mobile technical sensors within the context of smart cities, and surprisingly limited use of remote sensing approaches. In this article we further provide a critical discussion of possible impacts and influences of both technical and human sensing approaches on society, pointing out that a larger number of sensors, increased fusion of information, and the use of standardized data formats and interfaces will not necessarily result in any improvement in the quality of life of the citizens of a smart city. This article seeks to improve our understanding of technical and human geo-sensing capabilities, and to demonstrate that the use of such sensors can facilitate the integration of different types of contextual information, thus providing an additional, namely the geo-spatial perspective on the future development of smart cities. View Full-Text
Keywords: sensing; sensors; urban environments; urban dynamics; human-environment interaction; quality of life; geographic information science sensing; sensors; urban environments; urban dynamics; human-environment interaction; quality of life; geographic information science
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sagl, G.; Resch, B.; Blaschke, T. Contextual Sensing: Integrating Contextual Information with Human and Technical Geo-Sensor Information for Smart Cities. Sensors 2015, 15, 17013-17035.

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