Research

My research interests are centred on geographic information systems (GIS), their application to land management issues, citizen-generated geographic information and spatial analysis in general. I have been fortunate to work with top-notch colleagues who truly make this part of the job both stimulating and fun. Key projects I am involved with now are listed below followed by the main research themes that have interested me for some time.  A summary of my research funding can be found here.

Stresscapes:  Colin Robertson (Wilfrid Laurier) is leading this SSHRC-funded project which aims develop methods to derive spatial patterns of expressed mental stress from geosocial media and to relate these patterns to urban dynamics, design and planning. We are all familiar with the effects that traffic, congestion, open space, pleasing and poor design, among other factors, can have on our emotional state.  This work is using semantic methods to explore place-mobility-stress linkages through the place-based information many people create (e.g. Twitter) and consume (e.g. sensor feeds) in urban settings.

GeoThink: GeoThink is a large SSHRC Partnership project led by Renee Sieber (McGill) that aims to advance our understanding of how geoweb technologies and practices are changing the ways that citizens and governments interact.  Key research foci across the 6 project themes centre on the impacts of open data and open government, emerging privacy challenges, social justice and place, and spatial data quality and authenticity, among others.  My work is focused largely on spatial data quality issues and the changing nature of citizen participation, particularly how the new (e.g. online and mobile reporting and information sharing) interface with the tradtional (e.g. public meetings) at the community level and methods to help local governments make use of increasing varieties and volumes of digital place-based information.   

Web 2.0, Volunteered Geographic Information and "smart cities": I find the rapidly evolving technological-social nexus in which almost anyone can create, share and use geoferenced data through web maps, geoweb services, and personal location devices such as GPS units and smart phones to be intriguing on several counts.  Colin Robertson and I have been spending a lot (too much?) time with Flickr and Twitter data lately to explore different approaches for mining spatial patterns to learn more about how we sense urban places.  One paper from this work takes a multi-scale approach to place sensing with UGC while a second one looks into geosocial data deserts and implications for representativeness.

Stéphane Roche (U. Laval) and I continue to collaborate on several interesting dimensions in this research area including new ways to understand how VGI, as data and as social processes, can be valued (see our chapter in Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge) and how concepts of place are represented and (re)created within digital city contexts.  We are also co-investigators, along with Peter Johnson of UW and 11 other academics and a host of government, private sector and NGO partners, in the SSHRC funded GeoThink project that is investigating the impacts of the GeoWeb on citizen-government interactions in Canada.  

Geovisualisation:  GeoViz figures, to varying degrees, into much of the work my students, colleagues and I do to communicate spatial patterns or outputs to different end user groups.  For example, Vivien Deparday developed MapChatViz to study users' preferences for alternative methods of presenting facilitated VGI, Andrew Blakey's SunSpot web map app for rooftop solar modelling in Toronto develeoped as through the Geoide Phase 4 project led by Stephen Sheppard (UBC).

Spatial decision support: My interest in spatial decision support focuses generally (but not exclusively) on integrating GIS with multi-criteria analysis (MCA) methods and theories to aid in problem scoping, generating feasible strategies, and evaluating the relative merits of proposed options.  I am particularly interested in group-based spatial decision support and have published papers with Brent Hall on consensus-building among stakeholders with divergent viewpoints, representing the geographic dimensions of land-related conflict and spatial variations in criteria weight sensitivity (Feick and Hall, 1999; 2000; 2002, 2004). 

Public participation, GIS and the geoweb:  My work in public participation GIS (PPGIS), is centred broadly on software designs and use protocols that foster citizen and community group engagement in the design and choice phases of local planning decisions.  Supported by a GEOIDE Phase III grant (Promoting sustainable communities through spatial decision support), our research team developed and applied web-based tools that allow individuals to share, in real-time, map-based discussions that permit communication through spatially referenced map annotations and text messaging (see Hall et al, 2010).  The initial version of the MapChat software has been used in several contexts (affordable housing - Collingwood (Ont.), community asset mapping , Bulkley Valley (BC), The second version of this MapChat software is now available from Brent Hall's and Mike Leahy's MapChat site.

In addition, 
Robert Shipley and I have used GIS-based visualization to examine how citizen’s evaluations of rural cultural heritage landscapes evolve in response to simulated landscape changes (see Shipley and Feick, 2009).  We both have an interest in public participation and have recently begun to explore how citizen science is (or is not) valued in formal planning processes. 

Spatial data structures and analysis:  Barry Boots and I have worked together some time ago on using recursive Voronoi diagrams (RVD) to provide a variable resolution data model for spatial analysis.  Our earlier work concentrated on the theoretical constructs and geometric properties of RVDs (Boots et al, 2002; Boots and Feick, 2003).  We also demonstrated how RVD structures can be used for spatial interpolation method with sparse point-based data samples and to view a data set at different resolutions (Feick and Boots, 2005).