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University of Minnesota

From GPS and Google Maps to Spatial Computing

University of Minnesota via Coursera

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From Google Maps to consumer global positioning system (GPS) devices, spatial technology shapes many lives in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. Thanks to spatial computing, a hiker in Yellowstone and a taxi driver in Manhattan can know precisely where they are, discover nearby points of interest and learn how to reach their destinations. Spatial computing technology is what powers the Foursquare check-in, the maps app on your smartphone, the devices used by scientists to track endangered species, the routing directions that help you get from point A to point B, the precision agriculture technology that is revolutionizing farming, and the augmented reality devices like Google Glass that may soon mediate our interaction with the real world.

This course introduces the fundamental ideas underlying spatial computing services, systems, and sciences. Topics covered will include the nature of geospatial information, proper statistical frameworks for working with geospatial data, key algorithms and data structures, spatial data mining, and cartography/geovisualization. We will also address applied topics such as where to find spatial data, how to use powerful open source software to analyze and map spatial data, and frameworks for building location-based services.

Three Ways to Enjoy this Course:

This course is designed to support three different types of students and educational goals:

Curiosity Track: Most of us interact with spatial technologies every day. This track is for students who wish to learn about one or two spatial computing topics, but not commit to an entire course. Curiosity track students are not interested in a certificate of accomplishment.

Concepts Track: This track is for students who want to learn about spatial computing concepts in order to make informed choices, but who are not programmers and do not have extensive experience with statistical methods. For example, concepts track students will learn about Tobler’s First Law of geography and map projections, but will not delve into the quantifications of either. Students who complete the concepts track with sufficiently high scores will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.

Technical Track: This track builds on the concepts track, but adds math and programming. For example, we will cover spatial statistical indicators like Moran’s I and Ripley’s K when discussing Tobler’s First Law and will have students calculate the distance between two points using two different coordinate systems and open-source APIs. Students who complete the technical track with sufficiently high scores will receive a Distinguished Statement of Accomplishment.


Topics Covered:
Module 1 - Introduction
Course Introduction
Defining Spatial Computing
Course Structure
Interviews with Johannes Schöning, Loren Terveen and Martin Raubal Module 2 - Spatial Query Languages What is a Query? Query Language?
An example database with 3 tables
SQL overview
SELECT statement with 1 table
Multi-table SELECT statement
Why spatial extensions are needed
1-table spatial queries
Module 3 - Spatial Networks Motivation, Societal use cases
Example spatial networks
Conceptual and mathematical models
Need for SQL extensions
CONNECT statement
RECURSIVE statement
Storage and data structures
Algorithms for connectivity query
Algorithms for shortest path
Interviews with Dev Oliver and Betsy George Module 4 - Spatial Data Mining Motivation, Spatial Pattern Families
Spatial data types and relationships
Limitations of Traditional Statistics
Location Prediction model
Spatial outliers
Colocations and Co-occurrences
Summary: What is special about mining spatial data? Module 5 - Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) Introduction to Volunteered Geographic Information
Producing VGI
Pros and Cons of VGI
Interview with Michael Goodchild Module 6 - Positioning Introduction to Positioning
Overview of GPS
Overview of Wifi and Cellular Positioning
Introduction to Content-based Positioning
Location-field Positioning Module 7 - Cartography Introduction to Cartography
Overview of Maps and Mapping
Reference Maps
Thematic Maps
Spatialization Module 8 - Future Directions Introduction
Spatial Databases: Representative projects
Data Mining: Representative projects
Advances in Cartography
Advances in Positioning
Interviews with Vipin Kumar, Wan Bae, Mohammed Mokbel and Len Kne

Taught by

Brent Hecht and Shashi Shekhar


4.5 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

Start your review of From GPS and Google Maps to Spatial Computing

  • Arnold Rotich
    hi everyone,Am really eagerly waiting for this course,wonder what it'll be like.

    its a once in a lifetime to get this kind of an opportunity to learn this kind of stuff

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