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“Some thoughts on Geography and GIS” – The first series in the Academic Week
On the evening of September 22, the School of Urban Planning and Design welcomed the distinguished Professor Liu Yu, as the first speaker of the Academic Week. Professor Liu is a professor at the Institute of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System in Peking University. The lecture, named “Some thoughts on Geography and GIS”, attracted not only students from School of Urban Planning and Design, but also those from Harbin Institute of Technology.

The night opened with a welcoming speech and introduction from SUPD’s Professor Yin Jie. After that, Professor Liu started the night with a brief introduction into the definition of GIS, and the many variations of it. What is the meaning of GIS, and what is its significance to the study of Geography? Professor Liu brought forth various concepts, whether be it as a tool or as a science itself. Besides the traditional definitions, he also added in his own take and understanding, and gave the students a glimpse into the subject. Starting from the big picture, he then moved on to discuss questions such as spatial heterogeneity, spatial distribution patterns. The significance of geographical modeling is also discussed; do we use it as a method for prediction or description?
Professor Liu then continued on to one the hottest topic now, big data. In this era of big data, the huge volume of data collected from both online and off line becomes essential when it comes to making policy decisions on major issues such as intelligent management of the society and city, disaster monitoring and emergency rescue. Hence, we need to have the ability to quickly analyze and synthesize spatial information. Remote sensing and social sensing were then introduced to the students. Remote sensing reveals the physical characteristics of the Earth’s surface. Social sensing can be seen as the complement of remote sensing, and it is where big geospatial data and related analysis methods are applied at an individual-level. Social sensing data emphasizes on the spatio-temporal patterns of human activities and uses big data such as taxi trajectories, mobile phone records, and social media data.

Professor Liu’s engaging presentation captured the attention of all who was there. Towards the end of the presentation, he kindly offered to answer and discuss any questions that the students might have. The students then enthusiastically raised their hands to ask questions. The night concluded with a heartfelt round of applause as the students showed their appreciation for the time and effort that Professor Liu took to present his knowledge and enrich the students.
(Written by Yang Wandong , Photoed by Yang Baoqing ,Edited by Yi Zhexing)