Science of Connection: Researcher to discuss GIS and connected communities

Matt Swayne
January 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Interpersonal relationships are an important part of personal and public health, which makes understanding how to cultivate these connections important to improving health.

Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography and Penn State Institute for CyberScience (ICS) associate, will discuss how geographic information systems (GIS) are helping to investigate ways of building communities that foster relationships and social life at the CyberScience Seminar. The session, which is free to the public, will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Feb. 14 at the HUB-Robeson Center.

“One of the challenges researchers face in building relationships is actually finding better ways to determine where strong relationships exist and how accessible social ties are,” said Andris. “GIS researchers are developing improved models and investigating new data sources to help solve that challenge.”

She added that studying the dynamics of these relationships are complicated because of all the different ways people maintain relationships, such as everyday interactions, long-distance travel and digital communications. There are also ethical and privacy issues that further complicate this research.

In her talk, Andris will review five geometric models representing vectors of relationships between individuals, and edge weights that signify reported relationship strength, frequency of contact, frequency of co-location, etc.; ego-based and extensibility configurations and metrics; points of interest and their suitability for fostering relationships; administrative units, which contain variables from censuses and social capital surveys; and aggregate flows and networks sourced from social media, telecommunications patterns, and movement.

Andris will also introduce some of the new uses of data to understand communities and how travel demand, urban integration, environmental and social sustainability and the role of institutions can affect the creation of connected places.

“Hopefully, we can give spatial modelers a better idea of all the new data sources that are available and show them ways that they can be integrated into existing models in order to provide a better representation of human behavior and urban dynamics,” said Andris.

The CyberScience Seminars are a series of sessions held during each Spring and Fall semesters to show how researchers at Penn State are using data science to help explore our world and solves some of the biggest social challenges.

Registration is required. For more information, visit the ICS events page.

Last Updated January 28, 2019