Building a New Brand

Introducing the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization

After almost 20 years, the Center for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS) is at the crossroads of many disciplines where new lines of inquiry now embrace spatial data analytics and visualization that go well beyond the traditional tools of GIS.

The Center is increasingly engaged in research that pushes the boundaries of computational data mining, spatial mapping through web services, geo-visualization, artificial intelligence based on machine and deep learning, and spatial representations with augmented and virtual reality.

The time is right for building a new platform and brand that captures our capabilities and ambitions.

Therefore, the Center for Geographic Information Systems will continue to advance its research and creative activities under a new banner – the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization.

Smarter Cities Through Spatial Planning Analytics

Our Center is focused on addressing the realities and emerging issues in a mostly urbanized world with serious challenges.

Urban regions are seeking more intelligent ways for managing resources and waste, controlling carbon emissions, while at the same time, promising a higher quality of life for every citizen.

The Center is engaged in innovative solutions that leverage spatially enabled internet and communication technologies to improve the living conditions for all urban inhabitants.

At the same time, we are keenly aware that current “smart city” efforts have a tendency to oversimplify problems and often assume that such problems can be solved with technology alone.

Technology can empower our leaders and citizens to find innovative solutions to many problems – but as an enabler of smarter cities.

Ultimately, transformative change happens when smart planning precedes smart city technologies, together with enlightened citizens in a unified policy framework.

Our concept of spatial planning analytics resides in this intersection of technology, people, and policy.

Spatial planning analytics has been at the core of most of our research and development projects in the recent past.

Spatial Planning Analytics for Sustainable Urban Futures

Our most recent projects have been inspired by the city we live and work in, as well as its relationship to other regions, both within Georgia and globally.

Examples of recent projects include:

The Atlanta City Design Project, where we developed a novel web-based tool to generate and visualize in 3D a range of scenarios of Atlanta’s future development, together with their impact on households and jobs.

The Neighborhood Charm Project, which involved deriving people’s sentiments about the quality of different Atlanta neighborhoods from social media (Twitter) using machine-learning algorithms.

Partnership to Improve Community Health (PICH) Project, a collaborative project with the Fulton County Health Department in which we developed a web-portal for mapping and visualizing data on health, livability, and the built environment for Fulton County communities. This portal was designed to provide communities with the information and tools necessary for conducting health impact assessments.

The Urban Energy and Carbon Footprinting Project, which involved the development of a generic codebase (available in GitHub) that leverages widely available data to generate energy and carbon footprints for any U.S. urban region at the granular scale of neighborhoods.

Georgia’s Pavement Design and Management Project, which has created new procedures for data integration, pavement analysis and reporting, and included a GPS-enabled wireless-camera-integrated handheld system for capturing data about pavements. This system has been successfully implemented by the Georgia Department of Transportation. 

These projects are only a glimpse of the large portfolio of research endeavors pursued by the Center’s researchers in the recent past.

Advancing Geospatial Technologies

Our expertise has deepened in a range of domains, from big data analytics to deep learning, from image processing to immersive visualization, and from augmented reality to cloud computing.

Although we have an expanded capacity, we also continue to be the preeminent center for GIS and remote sensing technologies. Indeed, our expertise in various domains of spatial data analytics has contributed to advancing core GIS technologies as well.

Together, our expanded knowledge domains have the potential to revolutionize the practice of spatial planning for creating just, sustainable, and prosperous societies.

We are pursuing an ambitious agenda to make geospatial technologies ubiquitous and transparent in spatial planning as well as to enable individual citizens to become more engaged in their communities.

Along with our Center’s new name, as director, I am proud to present the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. This plan will define our efforts and contributions over the next incarnation of our research Center.

Subhro Guhathakurta
Director, Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization
Professor, School of City and Regional Planning
subhro.guha@design.gatech.edu