The Reginald Golledge Distinguished Lecture in Geography (March 14, 2013 )


The Reginald Golledge Distinguished Lecture in Geography

March 14, 2013 - 3:30-4:30 - Buchanan 1930, UCSB

“On Mental Clocks and Mental Maps: Contributions of Behavioral Geography
to a Theory of Geospatial Change”

Gilberto Câmara
National Institute for Space Research, Brazil

The age of big geospatial data has come. Mobile phones, social networks, and GPS devices create data useful for planning better cities, capturing human interactions and improving quality of life. Geosensors allow scientists to measure the world in novel ways. Space agencies worldwide plan to launch around 260 Earth observation satellites over the next 15 years. These massive data sets present a challenge for Geoinformatics. To use these large data sets properly, we need a proper scientific understanding of the key concept of change. This lecture describes recent work by spatiotemporal data modelling and explores how the ideas of Behavioral Geography can contribute to a theory of geospatial change. One of the many scientific contributions of Reginald Golledge was to show that perceptions and beliefs about space shape our understanding of reality. In this lecture, we will draw on his ideas to ask: how do mental models of space and time limit our ability to identify change? We argue that recognising change is combining observations of properties in space and time with personal beliefs on what counts as significant modifications of reality. This conjecture leads to two further hypotheses. First, real-world observations are the best foundation for spatiotemporal data models. Second, although events are essential to describe change, event characterisation depends on human judgement. Thus, spatiotemporal data models inherently have a measurement-based part, made of descriptions of observations, and a cognitive-based part, containing identification of events. Thus, Behavioral Geography shows us that theories of geospatial change are inherently dependent on our
beliefs about reality.

Gilberto Câmara is a researcher on Geoinformatics and Environmental Modelling in Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). He was INPE’s Assistant Director for Earth Observation from October 2001 to December 2005 and its Director General from December 2005 to May 2012. Gilberto has advised 19 PhD dissertations and 25 Master thesis and published more than 180 scholarly papers that have been cited more than 4700 times. He serves on the editorial board of the journals Anthropocene, Earth Science Informatics, Journal of Spatial Information Science, and Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. Gilberto is a global leader in making Earth Observation data openly accessible. Under his guidance, INPE’s team achieved big advances in land change monitoring using remote sensing images, leading to a major decrease in the deforestation in Amazonia, considered by the journal Nature as "the biggest environmental success story in decades". As recognition for his work, he got a Doctor honoris causa from the University of Münster (Germany) and was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre National du Mérite of France. He received the Global Citizen Award of the Global
Spatial Data Infrastructure Association and the 2012 Pecora Award from USGS and NASA for his "leadership to the broad and open access to remote sensing data."