The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Geovisualization and Knowledge Discovery for Decision-Making in Ecological Network Planning

Jukka Matthias Krisp

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Surveying for public examination and debate in Auditorium M1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 27th of October, 2006, at 12 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-8393-X)   [6648 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-8392-1)


Within the theoretical framework of this research it is recognized that a very large amount of real-world facts and (geospatial) data are collected and stored. Decision makers cannot consider all the available raw facts and data. Problem-specific variables have to be selected from this data and they need to be validated in their value for the specific model. A modeling process joins and aggregates the selected meaningful variables. This process may include extensive consultation between GIS-experts (or Geoscientists) with domain experts, and might result in several alternative problem-specific models. Geovisualization provides theory, methods and tools for the visual exploration, analysis, synthesis and presentation of data that contains geographic information. The focus of this research is on geovisualization and its crucial role to derive problem-specific models and design task-specific maps to discover and incorporate knowledge into planning and decision making. This research applies geovisualization in the knowledge discovery process for problem-specific spatial models and integrates geovisualization concepts and processes to provide task-specific maps to improve planning & decision making. The aim of this work is to apply selected geovisualization functionalities to support the creation of task-specific maps in selected case studies that relate to ecological network planning. The concept of ecological networks emphasizes that nature reserves should contain sufficient, high quality areas of habitat that are connected by corridors. The case studies investigate changing moose habitats (case I), wildlife warning sign locations (case II), and ecological barriers (case III). Case I describes an investigation of moose population density changes in southern Finland. Concepts of geovisualization used include interaction, animation, and three-dimensional density estimations. The results are displayed as density maps in a four-dimensional explorative visualization to present and highlight changes in moose habitats. Case II investigates the current placement of wildlife warning signs. In this context density estimations are incorporated, which are based on existing accident records are used to optimize warning sign locations. Applying a well-documented computational method, based on these moose and white-tailed deer accident locations, assists the Finnish road administration in its task to place or replace wildlife-warning signs along specific road sections. Case study III describes a process of modeling "ecological barriers" by a list of landuse and landcover elements and their impact on animal movement. These can split natural ecosystems into smaller and more isolated patches. This case study defines the ecological barriers, using experts' knowledge to classify spatial objects with an abstract ecological barrier value. Eleven experts from the field of landuse planning have commented on the maps obtained in case III and are generally in agreement that these kinds of maps are useful for planning. One of this dissertation's basic findings is that geovisualization can assist the formulation of first ideas and hypothesis from the GIScientist, when interacting with the data. Furthermore may aid the modeling process and the interaction process between the GIS-expert (or Geoscientist) with domain experts. A GIS expert has the knowledge of a set of tools and processes-related to geo-referenced data. Domain experts from an organization have their knowledge regarding the processes and experience dealt with in the specific field. Within the spatial modeling process, the actors have to find ways to integrate the knowledge from the experts into a spatial model. This requires interaction and an understanding between actors. Geovisualization can have a crucial role in creating this understanding. Domain experts are the most important information source in the problem-specific spatial modeling process. One of the findings in this research is that bringing in expert knowledge is one of the crucial points in developing the problem-specific spatial models and finally the problem-specific maps that assist the decision making. The use of exploratory geovisualization tools help to study the ecological landscape and alternative approaches for landuse. Perhaps decision makers in landscape planning and ecological network planning underestimate the importance of geovisualization that provides a wide set of tools and processes to interact and work with spatial data. This research indicates that making use of these tools with help of a GIScientist, assist the interaction between the decision-maker and domain experts.

Keywords: geovisualization, spatial models, knowledge discovery process, planning, decision making, ecological networks, case studies analysis, task-specific maps

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© 2006 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26