Papers accepted for AGILE and AAAI Spring Symposium

I have two new papers accepted, one for AGILE 2015 in Lisbon, and one for the AAAI Spring Symposium 2015 on Structured Data for Humanitarian Technologies in Stanford. The latter was a collaboration with Tim Clark and Hemant Purohit. Find the preliminary citations below; click the title for a preprint PDF:

  • Carsten Keßler (forthcoming 2015) Central Places in Wikipedia. Accepted for the 18th AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science: Geographic information Science as an enabler of smarter cities and communities. June 9–12, 2015. Lisbon, Portugal

Abstract Central Place Theory explains the number and locations of cities, towns, and villages based on principles of market areas, transportation, and socio-political interactions between settlements. It assumes a hexagonal segmentation of space, where every central place is surrounded by six lower-order settlements in its range, to which it caters its goods and services. In reality, this ideal hexagonal model is often skewed based on varying popu- lation densities, locations of natural features and resources, and other factors. In this paper, we propose an approach that extracts the structure around a central place and its range from the link structure on the Web. Using a corpus of georeferenced documents from the English language edition of Wikipedia, we combine weighted links between places and semantic annotations to compute the convex hull of a central place, marking its range. We compare the results obtained to the structures predicted by Central Place Theory, demonstrating that the Web and its hyperlink structure can indeed be used to infer spatial structures in the real world. We demonstrate our approach for the four largest metropolitan areas in the United States, namely New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.

Abstract Given the rise of humanitarian crises in the recent years, and adoption of multiple data sharing platforms in offline and online environments, it is increasingly challenging to collect, organize, clean, integrate, and analyze data in the humanitarian domain. On the other side, computer science has built efficient technologies to store, integrate and analyze structured data, however, their role in the humanitarian domain is yet to be shown. We present a case of how structured data technology, specifically Linked Open Data from the Semantic Web area, can be applied for information interoperability in the humanitarian domain. We present the domain-specific challenges, description of the technology adoption via an example of real world adoption of the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) ontology, and describe the lessons from that to build the case of why, how and which components of technologies can be effective for information organization and interoperability in the humanitarian domain.

CFP: Workshop on Semantics and Analytics for Emergency Response (SAFE2015)

When: May 24, 2015
Where: Kristiansand, Norway
Collocated with the The 12th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM2015)
Workshop URI:
Submission Deadline: February 9, 2015. 23:59pm Hawaii Time
Submissions via:
Notifications: March 2nd, 2015

Emergencies require massive coordinated efforts from various departments, government organizations and public bodies to help and assist affected communities. Responders must rapidly gather information, determine where to deploy resources and make prioritization decisions regarding how best to deal with an evolving situation. Sharing accurate, real time and contextual information between different agencies, organizations and individuals is therefore crucial to developing good situation awareness for emergency responders. However, with the involvement of multiple organizations and agencies, each with their own response protocols, knowledge practices and knowledge representations, sharing critical information is considerably more difficult. Applying semantic technologies to represent information can provide excellent means for effectively sharing and using data within different organizations. Using highly structured, self-descriptive pieces of information, interlinked with multiple data resources can help develop a unified and accurate understanding of an evolving scenario. This provides an excellent framework for developing applications and technologies that are highly generic, reproducible and extendible to different regions, conditions, and scenarios. In addition, the semantic descriptions of data can enable new forms of analyses on this data, such as checking for inconsistencies, verifying developments according to planned scenarios, or trying to discover interesting semantically meaningful patterns in data. Such analytics can be performed either in real-time as the scenario unfolds, e.g., through semantic stream processing and event detection techniques, or as an after-action analysis to learn from past events.

SAFE2015 targets the intersection between Semantic Web and Linked Data, and the field of information systems for Emergency Response. The focus is on the use of semantic technologies to gather, share and integrate knowledge, as well as for supporting novel methods for analyzing such information, in order to provide better situation awareness, decision support, and potential for after-action reviews. This full-day workshop will be highly interactive, including presentations, demos, poster discussions, group work sessions, and road-mapping activities. We invite submissions in the form of research papers, demonstrations and poster papers, related to the workshop topics listed below.

Workshop topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Semantic Annotation and Mining, for understanding the content and context of both static sources and streaming data, such as social media streams.
  • Integration of unstructured or semi-structured data with Linked Data.
  • Interactive Interfaces and visual analytics methodologies for managing multiple large-scale, dynamic, evolving datasets, while exploiting their underlying semantics.
  • Vocabularies, ontologies and ontology design patterns for modelling, managing, sharing and analysing information in the Security and Emergency Response domains.
  • Stream reasoning and event detection over RDF streams.
  • Collaborative tools and services for citizens, organisations, communities, which exploit semantic technologies, and/or produce semantically well-specified information, such as Linked Data.
  • Privacy, ethics, trustworthiness and legal issues in the social Semantic Web and the use of semantic technologies, such as Linked Data.
  • Use case analysis, with specific interest for use cases that involve the application of semantic technologies and Linked Data methodologies in real-life scenarios.


The workshop welcomes submissions describing novel research, both verified results as well as work in progress and system demonstrations.

Submission categories:

  • Full research papers, up to 10 pages.
  • Position papers, up to 5 pages.
  • Demos & Posters, up to 4 pages.

Paper submissions will have to be formatted in the Springer LNCS style. Submissions are made using EasyChair
( Papers will be published as online proceedings, e.g. in CEUR-WS.

Workshop organizers

Eva Blomqvist, Linköping University, Sweden
Tomi Kauppinen, Aalto University, Finland
Vita Lanfranchi, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Carsten Kessler, Hunter College–CUNY, USA
Suvodeep Mazumdar, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

The brutal methods outlined in the Senate report →

The brutal methods outlined in the Senate report

I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that some people seem to think that this is somehow okay. Make sure you scroll down to read what they refer to as stress positions:

Over the course of the entire 20 day ‘aggressive phase of interrogation,’ Abu Zubaydah spent a total of 266 hours (11 days, 2 hours) in the large (coffin size) confinement box and 29 hours in a small confinement box, which had a width of 21 inches, a depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet. The CIA interrogators told Abu Zubaydah that the only way he would leave the facility was in the coffin-shaped confinement box.

How to write (and not write) a good paper →

This advice by Roy Levin and David D. Redell is over 20 years old and was meant to be specific to systems papers – hence the title An Evaluation of the Ninth SOSP Submissions or How (and Hot Not) to Write a Good Systems paper. However, it’s main points are largely applicable to other technology-driven research as well, and they are certainly still valid today – maybe even more than 20 years ago. This is definitely a good read and a useful benchmark for your (and my) own papers.

Webinar: A GIS Framework for Citizen-based Environmental Monitoring in NYC

We’ll be giving a webinar on enviroCar for the Transportation Professional Affiliation Group of the NYS GIS Association this Wednesday afternoon:

EnviroCar is a citizen science platform that utilizes GPS and automobile sensors to collect data on driving behavior. Speed, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are recorded, anonymized and then shared to EnviroCar’s cloud service for analysis by scientists and planners.

Data from multiple users collected over time paint a detailed picture of traffic conditions in a city. Areas of high emissions, traffic jams, or other traffic flow issues can be identified. Thus the data can both inform traffic planning and augment emission data captured by stationary sensors. All software and data components of EnviroCar are open source and the data are available in various formats for mapping and analysis. Originally developed in Germany, CARSI is investigating the potential of expanding EnviroCar to New York City.

Register here to tune in.

1-week professional training course on Open Source GIS at Hunter College, NYC

After our first course in August, we received lots of positive feedback and inquiries about future iterations of the course, so here we go:

January 19–23, 2015, 9 AM to 5 PM

The Department of Geography at Hunter College of the City University of New York and Hunter Continuing Education are offering a five day professional course in Open Source GIS. This five day course will span the entire range of GIS data capture, management, analysis, and visualization of geographic information using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). These different elements of the GIS workflow will be discussed over the first four days and will then be applied in a final project completed on Friday. The course will combine lectures with hands-on sessions where participants will work with different free and open source GIS packages. Since we expect participants from many different organizations in the tri-state area, this training course also presents an excellent networking opportunity.

The course is designed for experienced GIS users who want to broaden their skill set with expertise in the ever-growing world of free and open source GIS. Participants are expected to have a technical background and an interest in developing comprehensive workflows using multiple software components. While we do not require any programming experience, we will be working on the command line and developing some small scripts. Participants should be eager to master these valuable skills.

Carson Farmer and Carsten Kessler are Associate Directors of the Center for Advanced Research of Spatial Information (CARSI Lab) and Assistant Professors for Geographic Information Science in the Department of Geography at Hunter College ‐ CUNY.

Carson has been working with open source GIS projects, including as core developer for QGIS, since 2007. His research interests revolve around movements and flows of individuals, information, and commodities within urban environments, and the development and implementation of novel spatial analysis methods and software aimed at characterizing these flows.

Carsten has extensive experience in projects around open data and the exchange of geographic information, both in international research projects and as a consultant. His research interests are in the areas of information integration, volunteered geographic information, emergency management, and collaborative and participatoryGIS.

Both instructors will be present for the duration of the course to support the participants in the hands-on exercises.

Location, registration and fees
The course will be held at the Department of Geography’s computer lab in the Hunter North building at Lexington and 68th Street, Manhattan. Registration fee for this course is $1800 and includes access to computers and server space to run the exercises.

For more detailed information or to register, visit or contact the Hunter Continuing Education office at 212-650-3850 or .