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New Spatiotemporal Innovation Center
updated: Jan 16, 2014, 12:00 PM
Source: University of California Santa Barbara
Many 21st-century challenges require a deep understanding of how natural and manmade phenomena -
major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, climate change and sustainable energy resources - are linked to
one another. The largely virtual Spatiotemporal Innovation Center, a new National Science Foundation (NSF)
Industry & University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) with a presence at UC Santa Barbara, brings
new perspectives to such issues.
"The initial set of projects at UCSB is quite varied," said Keith Clarke, professor of geography and the
center's co-director. "Jeff Dozier at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management will use
satellite imagery to model and anticipate snowmelt in the Sierras. Geographer Krzysztof Janowicz will build
linguistic models of how language relates to geographical objects. And my project will focus on developing
methods to enhance human visual perception when viewing video.
"The common theme is geography, which means the projects take place within a fixed frame of reference
- i.e., the geographic locations of features, landscapes, objects, etc. For instance, we used to make maps
that were essentially static; they showed statistical themes or road distributions. Now we can show every
vehicle moving along the roads so that the dynamics come into play," Clarke said. "How do you
communicate that? How do you draw people's attention to changes and movement? And in particular, how
do you use contemporary or next-generation computing to solve such Big Data problems?"
Funded by the I/UCRC program, the new center conducts shared research that features trailblazing new
thinking, methodology and tools. Natural disasters happen in both space and time, for example, which
requires that spatiotemporal principles and thinking be incorporated into computing processes.
"This new center will not only support cutting-edge research, it will also create something that bolsters
alternative funding models, an inherent part of the Spatiotemporal Innovation Center's structure," Clarke
said. "Research projects are no longer going to be supported by big government funds; they are going to
be collaborative, of a relatively shorter duration and much more patent-oriented."
The Spatiotemporal Innovation Center is projected to receive more than $2 million a year from numerous
government and industry sponsors to conduct transformative research in collaboration with agencies and
industry. Companies and non-NSF agencies can participate as members of the center by investing a limited
amount of funding for projects of their direct interest. Membership also includes free access to all research
and development results, whether or not directly sponsored.
Through long-term investigation and the expansion to other qualified and complementary universities, the
center aims to advance human intelligence through spatiotemporal thinking; produce innovative
spatiotemporal computer software and tools; and expand the human capability to respond to deep
scientific questions and grand engineering challenges.
New products created as a result of the collaboration between industry and academia will assist the
Spatiotemporal Innovation Center in achieving its ultimate goal: building the national and international
Chaowei (Phil) Yang of George Mason University and Peter Bol of Harvard are the other co-directors, and
UCSB's Michael Goodchild, emeritus professor of geography, is chair of the board of directors.
View the full press release here
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