Special Issue "Place-Based Research in GIScience and Geoinformatics"

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Thomas Blaschke

Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS; University of Salzburg; Schillerstra├če 30 | 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +43 662 8044 182
Interests: Integration of GIS & Remote Sensing, Object Based Image Analysis, mixed methods; land use science
Guest Editor
Dr. Song Gao

University of California, Santa Barbara, Kalifornien 93106, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Place-based GIS, Geospatial Semantics, Spatiotemporal Big Data Analytics and Modelling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Space and place are two fundamental concepts in geography, and more broadly in the social sciences, the humanities, and information science. Space is more abstract, while the notion of place is more tangible to humans. Place names and the semantics of places described in natural languages, rather than coordinates (i.e., longitude and latitude) and geometries, are pervasive in human discourse, documents, and social media while location needs to be specified. Moreover, digital gazetteers (dictionaries of places) play a central role for geocoding and interlinking other information. With the increasing availability of user-generated content, social media and geo-social network data, and human digital trajectories generated from GPS devices or smart phones and so on, these new sources provide researchers with great opportunities to study the semantics and computational representations of places, and individuals’ observations, experiences, and exposures to ambient environments, as well as associated human-place interactions.

GIS has arrived at everybody’s desktop, or smartphone, respectively. Many of the underlying geometric operations have been established over the last forty years or so. Of course, real-time applications, augmented reality or indoor navigation are more recent challenges. Still, one of the major challenges is to use spatial information in a way as humans do. This may include place names and functions for places. While the English language clearly differentiates between ‘space’ and ‘place’, the situation is different in some other languages, such as German.

Although place-based investigations into human phenomena have been widely conducted in the humanities and social sciences over the last decades, this notion has only recently transgressed into Geographic Information Science (GIScience). The broad umbrella term for place-centered analyses in GIScience has been informally defined as place-based GIS, which comprises research branches from automated computational place modeling on one end of the spectrum, to theoretical discussions, as for instance in critical GIS on the other end. Central to all research branches concerned with place-based GIS is the notion of placing the individual at the focal point of the investigation, in order to assess human-environment relationships. This requires the formalization of place, which poses a significant research challenge on several levels. The first challenge lies in finding an unambiguous definition of place, in order to subsequently be able to translate it into formalized binary code, which computers and GISs can handle. This formalization poses the next challenge, due to the inherent vagueness and subjectiveness of human data. The last challenge is in ensuring the transferability of results, which requires large samples of highly subjective data. Another important characteristic in place-based GIS is the development of place-based operations or analysis functionalities in analogy to their spatial counterparts. The challenge lies in transforming traditional GIS operations such as spatial buffers and joins, or developing completely new ones, in order to deal with the hierarchical and other semantic structures of places.

This Special Issue invites original contributions that tackle the handling of place and which may address the meaning of place in GIScience research. Articles may determine what is special about place and how place is handled in GIScience, Geoinformatics and in neighboring disciplines. Research may contribute to the overarching questions how place can be adequately addressed and handled with established GIScience methods. What methodologies and methods from other disciplines (e.g., computer science, linguistics, etc.) must be considered in order to sufficiently account for place-based analyses. We encourage contributions which help to conflate findings from emerging research, in an attempt to position place-based GIS within the broader framework of GIScience.

We welcome submissions from diverse disciplines, including Environmental Psychology, Linguistics, Urban Planning, Spatial Economics, Geographic Information Science, Spatial Cognition, Human-Computer Interaction, Data Science, Smart City, Big Data, Health and Place, and others.

Prof. Thomas Blaschke
Dr. Song Gao
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Place vs. Space
  • Placenames
  • Vague and subjective information
  • Place semantics
  • Ontologies and epistemologies of place
  • Place cognition
  • Gazetteers
  • Natural language computing
  • Human-place interactions
  • Mixed methods approaches
  • Human digital trajectories
  • Giscience

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.

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