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Revisiting the Role of Place in Geographic Information Science
AuthorMerschdorf, Helena ; Blaschke, Thomas
Published in
ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, Basel, 2018, Vol. 7, Issue 364, page 1-25
PublishedBasel : MDPI, 2018
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)human geography / mixed methods / interdisciplinary research / GIScience / place-based GISman geography / mixed methods / interdisciplinary research / GIScience / place-based GIS
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-9921 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
Revisiting the Role of Place in Geographic Information Science [1.52 mb]
Abstract (English)

Although place-based investigations into human phenomena have been widely conducted in the social sciences over the last decades, this notion has only recently transgressed into Geographic Information Science (GIScience). Such a place-based GIS comprises research from computational place modeling on one end of the spectrum, to purely theoretical discussions on the other end. Central to all research that is concerned with place-based GIS is the notion of placing the individual at the center of the investigation, in order to assess human-environment relationships. This requires the formalization of place, which poses a number of challenges. The first challenge is unambiguously defining place, to subsequently be able to translate it into binary code, which computers and geographic information systems can handle. This formalization poses the next challenge, due to the inherent vagueness and subjectivity of human data. The last challenge is ensuring the transferability of results, requiring large samples of subjective data. In this paper, we re-examine the meaning of place in GIScience from a 2018 perspective, determine what is special about place, and how place is handled both in GIScience and in neighboring disciplines. We, therefore, adopt the view that space is a purely geographic notion, reflecting the dimensions of height, depth, and width in which all things occur and move, while place reflects the subjective human perception of segments of space based on context and experience. Our main research questions are whether place is or should be a significant (sub)topic in GIScience, whether it can be adequately addressed and handled with established GIScience methods, and, if not, which other disciplines must be considered to sufficiently account for place-based analyses. Our aim is to conflate findings from a vast and dynamic field in an attempt to position place-based GIS within the broader framework of GIScience.

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