Welcome to Columbus, OH! GIScience in the heartland

Welcome to Ohio! When I arrived, Columbus was cloudy and warm, with the city in a buzz from a visit from President Obama.

GIScience 2012 was an amazing conference: small (~300 people) and focused, with a terrific program: 2 keynotes each morning, sessions through the day and a panel session of 6 speakers in the evenings. I went to sessions on spatial uncertainty, the geoweb (where Renee Sieber gave a terrific talk on the challenges of participation in webGIS (I learned a ton!)), and big data among others, and Thomas Blaschke and I organized a workshop on obia. The keynotes were especially satisfying: big picture, often provocative talks from gifted speakers. Helen Couclelis talked about her vision of GIScience as a meta science: an "information oriented, context sensitive, spatially referenced, method of representing the real world". I loved the discussion of intentionality and context in her talk, and overall it gave me so much to think about. Noel Cressie showed his group's work modeling uncertainty in a North American regional climate change model: summer is going to be hotter in the North American south, and winter is going to be warmer in the Canadian north, no matter how you slice it. Jack Dongarra gave a riveting talk on the future of supercomputing: he walked us through the building of a supercomputer from an individual core, and made clear the power, software and hardware requirements of these machines. Doug Richardson presented his high level perspective on GIS and health; he and the AAG have been working hard to make geoinformatics more evident in public health research through workshop, grants and tireless lobbying. Also a great treat was my visit with Desheng Liu, former lab member, who is now Associate Professor of Geography and Statistics at Ohio State University. We spent some time walking around the lovely campus and catching up. I also got to visit, very briefly, the Thurber House, home of one of my favs James Thurber, who went to OSU and lived in Columbus. Great stuff! As for our workshop, here are the key items the participants were interested in (in order of popularity): terminology, the future of geobia, integration with GIS, semantics, accuracy, change, standards, learning from the past.