On the way to platial analysis: Can geosocial media provide the necessary impetus?

The recent availability of user-generated geographic datasets allows gaining novel insights into otherwise hardly observable societal phenomena. Geosocial media forms one important source of user-generated information, which partly describes the everyday lives of people. The analysis of these kinds of data, however, requires new approaches. Geosocial media data—like those extracted from Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and others—differ from established sources in that they are largely inherently platial in nature. People provide their own subjective opinions or perceptions, and taken together these represent the digital social imagination of places. Crisp and objective geographic data primitives like points, lines or polygons are not necessarily the preferable units for analysing these kinds of information. Platial analysis approaches are thus needed to fully exploit the potential of geosocial media and related data. Yet, while human geographers and social scientists have been theorizing on the concept of place since a long time, and despite of invocations by leading GIScience researchers, we are still lacking a universal theory on the formalization of places and how to make them available to quantitative and other GIS-related analysis strategies. Partly, this lack has been due to the insufficient availability of platial data, but the appearance of geosocial media might change this condition. It is therefore time to rethink our geographical analysis strategies with a focus on “place” instead of “space”.

We therefore encourage you to participate in our two-day workshop for discussing the following topics:

  • How could existing GIScience theories on space be integrated with the human-geographic and philosophical notion of place?
  • How can we—analogous to points, lines and polygons—derive platial units as counterparts to the established GIS primitives?
  • How is it possible to establish and quantify relationships between adjacent places?
  • What might be a suitable strategy for aggregating subjective platial information?
  • What are the roles of uncertainty, fuzziness, and subjectivity in a place-based theory of geographical information?
  • In which ways can places be visualized, and how can we do that at multiple scales?
  • How can platial analysis be integrated with applied research agendas from neighbouring disciplines like sociology/regional science, urban planning, or human geography?
  • How to align Tobler’s first law of geography with a platial notion of geospatial analysis?
  • Further topics are welcome if they fit the overall theme of this workshop.

Apart from discussing the above topics, it is our particular goal to establish an interdisciplinary dialogue involving geographers, computer scientists, social scientists, and other related scholars.


René Westerholt, Heidelberg University, westerholt@uni-heidelberg.de

Franz-Benjamin Mocnik, Heidelberg University, mocnik@uni-heidelberg.de

Alexander Zipf, Heidelberg University, zipf@uni-heidelberg.de


The following programme for Friday, 21 September is provisional and will be extended by the programme for Thursday, 20 September soon:

 08:30 Registration opens
 09:00 Welcome note
Alexander Zipf, René Westerholt, Franz-Benjamin Mocnik
 09:15 Keynote: “Quantitative Platial Analysis
Alexis Comber, University of Leeds, UK
 10:15 Coffee break
 10:45 Session 1
3 talks á 30 min
 12:30 Lunch
 13:30 Session 2
3 talks á 30 min
 15:15 Coffee break
 15:45 Session 3
2 talks á 30 min
 17:00 Panel discussion
 19:30 Dinner
Restaurant Kulturbrauerei, Leyergasse 6, 69117 Heidelberg


We accept short paper submissions of 3,000 words / 7 pages maximum length, including abstract, figures, and references. The papers will be subject to double-blind review by at least two of the members of our programme committee (see below). Therefore, please anonymize your initial submission and include authors names and acknowledgements just after you have done all requested revisions later. All accepted short papers will be published with CEUR-WS, a community-driven publication outlet for workshop and conference proceedings from computer science and information systems. We further invite authors to extend their short paper contributions to long papers, which could then be submitted to an adjoint special issue to be published in Transactions in GIS after the workshop (accepted, but currently under negotiation).

We offer you a LaTeX template for preparing your submissions. Please use the following link to open the template in Overleaf:

Open template in Overleaf.

Further instructions are found in the template. Once you have used the template, the created project can then also be opened in v2.overleaf.com, which provides better user experience. If LaTeX might not be an option for you, please contact us. Alternative solutions will be made available upon request.

Please submit your final manuscript (PDF and LaTeX source) via Easychair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=platial18. Do not forget to anonymize your manuscript to ensure a double blind review process.

Important Dates

1 June 2018: Call for short papers opens
1 June 2018: Registration opens
8 July 2018: Submission deadline for short papers
19 August 2018: Camera-ready papers are due
16 September 2018: Papers are available online
21 September 2018: VGIscience PLATIAL’18 workshop

Programme Committee

Gennady Andrienko (City University London, United Kingdom)
Thomas Blaschke (University of Salzburg, Austria)
Dirk Burghardt (Technical University of Dresden, Germany)
Alexis Comber (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
Sara Irina Fabrikant (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Andrew U. Frank (TU Wien, Austria)
Hans Gebhardt (Heidelberg University, Germany)
Michael F. Goodchild (University of California, Santa Barbara, United States)
Krzysztof Janowicz (University of California, Santa Barbara, United States)
Alan MacEachren (The Pennsylvania State University, United States)
Grant McKenzie (McGill University, Canada)
Franz-Benjamin Mocnik (Heidelberg University, Germany)
Alenka Poplin (Iowa State University, United States)
João Porto de Albuquerque (University of Warwick, United Kingdom)
Ross Purves (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Simon Scheider (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Sabine Timpf (University of Augsburg, Germany)
René Westerholt (Heidelberg University, Germany)
Stephan Winter (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Diedrich Wolter (University of Bamberg, Germany)
Alexander Zipf (Heidelberg University, Germany)



The registration is handled via Eventbrite. Please register your participation here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/platial18-tickets-46023460409.

Please note: For administrative reasons, the tickets offered on Eventbrite are free. Please send an email to platial18@platialscience.net after your registration. The email should contain your name, affiliation and your applicable price category (see pricing below). You will then receive further information regarding your payment, as well as a receipt for your reimbursement.

Participation fees

We offer a three-tier pricing model:

Regular participants 130 EUR
PhD students 80 EUR
Bachelor/Master students 40 EUR

Prices include participation, coffee breaks, lunch and dinner.


The workshop takes place in the conference room of the Mathematikon, one of the newest venues of Heidelberg University:

Conference room, Mathematikon, Im Neuenheimer Feld 205, 69120 Heidelberg, Gemany.

Arrival to the venue

Air travel: Heidelberg is easy to reach from two international airports. Frankfurt airport is one of the major European aviation hubs and just a ~30 minutes train ride away. Stuttgart airport is another option, and also well connected to Heidelberg.

Arriving by train: Heidelberg main station is well connected by long-haul and regional trains. Via Mannheim, Heidelberg can be reached from large parts of Germany and the neighbouring countries in 4 hours.

From the main station: Tram lines 21 and 24 towards Handschuhsheim Nord or Hans-Thoma-Platz. Leave the tram at the stop Bunsengymnasium.

From the old town: Tram line 21 (see above), or bus line 31 (towards Uniklinik Neuenheimer Feld, leave the bus at the stop Bunsengymnasium).