On Quantifying Qualitative Geospatial Data: A Probabilistic Approach Full text

Georgios Skoumas , Dieter Pfoser , Anastasios Kyrillidis
Proceeding GEOCROWD '13 Proceedings of the Second ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Crowdsourced and Volunteered Geographic Information Pages 71-78

Living in the era of data deluge, we have witnessed a web content explosion, largely due to the massive availability of User-Generated Content (UGC). In this work, we specifically consider the problem of geospatial information extraction and representation, where one can exploit diverse sources of information (such as image and audio data, text data, etc), going beyond traditional volunteered geographic information. Our ambition is to include available narrative information in an effort to better explain geospatial relationships: with spatial reasoning being a basic form of human cognition, narratives expressing such experiences typically contain qualitative spatial data, i.e., spatial objects and spatial relationships.

To this end, we formulate a quantitative approach for the representation of qualitative spatial relations extracted from UGC in the form of texts. The proposed method quantifies such relations based on multiple text observations. Such observations provide distance and orientation features which are utilized by a greedy Expectation Maximization-based (EM) algorithm to infer a probability distribution over predefined spatial relationships; the latter represent the quantified relationships under user-defined probabilistic assumptions. We evaluate the applicability and quality of the proposed approach using real UGC data originating from an actual travel blog text corpus. To verify the quality of the result, we generate grid-based "maps" visualizing the spatial extent of the various relations.