skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: People, Projects, Organizations, and Products: Designing a Knowledge Graph to Support Multi-Stakeholder Environmental Planning and Design
As the need for more broad-scale solutions to environmental problems is increasingly recognized, traditional hierarchical, government-led models of coordination are being supplemented by or transformed into more collaborative inter-organizational networks (i.e., collaboratives, coalitions, partnerships). As diffuse networks, such regional environmental planning and design (REPD) efforts often face challenges in sharing and using spatial and other types of information. Recent advances in semantic knowledge management technologies, such as knowledge graphs, have the potential to address these challenges. In this paper, we first describe the information needs of three multi-stakeholder REPD initiatives in the western USA using a list of 80 need-to-know questions and concerns. The top needs expressed were for help in tracking the participants, institutions, and information products relevant to the REDP’s focus. To address these needs, we developed a prototype knowledge graph based on RDF and GeoSPARQL standards. This semantic approach provided a more flexible data structure than traditional relational databases and also functionality to query information across different providers; however, the lack of semantic data expertise, the complexity of existing software solutions, and limited online hosting options are significant barriers to adoption. These same barriers are more acute for geospatial data, which also faces the added challenge of maintaining and synchronizing both semantic and traditional geospatial datastores.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Nicewonger, Todd E. ; McNair, Lisa D. ; Fritz, Stacey (Ed.) At the start of the pandemic, the editors of this annotated bibliography initiated a remote (i.e., largely virtual) ethnographic research project that investigated how COVID-19 was impacting off-site modular construction practices in Alaska Native communities. Many of these communities are located off the road system and thus face not only dramatically higher costs but multiple logistical challenges in securing licensed tradesmen and construction crews and in shipping building supplies and equipment to their communities. These barriers, as well as the region’s long winters and short building seasons, complicate the construction of homes and related infrastructure projects. Historically, these communities have also grappled with inadequate housing, including severe overcrowding and poor-quality building stock that is rarely designed for northern Alaska’s climate (Marino 2015). Moreover, state and federal bureaucracies and their associated funding opportunities often further complicate home building by failing to accommodate the digital divide in rural Alaska and the cultural values and practices of Native communities.[1] It is not surprising, then, that as we were conducting fieldwork for this project, we began hearing stories about these issues and about how the restrictions caused by the pandemic were further exacerbating them. Amidst these stories, we learned about how modular home construction was being imagined as a possible means for addressing both the complications caused by the pandemic and the need for housing in the region (McKinstry 2021). As a result, we began to investigate how modular construction practices were figuring into emergent responses to housing needs in Alaska communities. We soon realized that we needed to broaden our focus to capture a variety of prefabricated building methods that are often colloquially or idiomatically referred to as “modular.” This included a range of prefabricated building systems (e.g., manufactured, volumetric modular, system-built, and Quonset huts and other reused military buildings[2]). Our further questions about prefabricated housing in the region became the basis for this annotated bibliography. Thus, while this bibliography is one of multiple methods used to investigate these issues, it played a significant role in guiding our research and helped us bring together the diverse perspectives we were hearing from our interviews with building experts in the region and the wider debates that were circulating in the media and, to a lesser degree, in academia. The actual research for each of three sections was carried out by graduate students Lauren Criss-Carboy and Laura Supple.[3] They worked with us to identify source materials and their hard work led to the team identifying three themes that cover intersecting topics related to housing security in Alaska during the pandemic. The source materials collected in these sections can be used in a variety of ways depending on what readers are interested in exploring, including insights into debates on housing security in the region as the pandemic was unfolding (2021-2022). The bibliography can also be used as a tool for thinking about the relational aspects of these themes or the diversity of ways in which information on housing was circulating during the pandemic (and the implications that may have had on community well-being and preparedness). That said, this bibliography is not a comprehensive analysis. Instead, by bringing these three sections together with one another to provide a snapshot of what was happening at that time, it provides a critical jumping off point for scholars working on these issues. The first section focuses on how modular housing figured into pandemic responses to housing needs. In exploring this issue, author Laura Supple attends to both state and national perspectives as part of a broader effort to situate Alaska issues with modular housing in relation to wider national trends. This led to the identification of multiple kinds of literature, ranging from published articles to publicly circulated memos, blog posts, and presentations. These materials are important source materials that will likely fade in the vastness of the Internet and thus may help provide researchers with specific insights into how off-site modular construction was used – and perhaps hyped – to address pandemic concerns over housing, which in turn may raise wider questions about how networks, institutions, and historical experiences with modular construction are organized and positioned to respond to major societal disruptions like the pandemic. As Supple pointed out, most of the material identified in this review speaks to national issues and only a scattering of examples was identified that reflect on the Alaskan context. The second section gathers a diverse set of communications exploring housing security and homelessness in the region. The lack of adequate, healthy housing in remote Alaska communities, often referred to as Alaska’s housing crisis, is well-documented and preceded the pandemic (Guy 2020). As the pandemic unfolded, journalists and other writers reported on the immense stress that was placed on already taxed housing resources in these communities (Smith 2020; Lerner 2021). The resulting picture led the editors to describe in their work how housing security in the region exists along a spectrum that includes poor quality housing as well as various forms of houselessness including, particularly relevant for the context, “hidden homelessness” (Hope 2020; Rogers 2020). The term houseless is a revised notion of homelessness because it captures a richer array of both permanent and temporary forms of housing precarity that people may experience in a region (Christensen et al. 2107). By identifying sources that reflect on the multiple forms of housing insecurity that people were facing, this section highlights the forms of disparity that complicated pandemic responses. Moreover, this section underscores ingenuity (Graham 2019; Smith 2020; Jason and Fashant 2021) that people on the ground used to address the needs of their communities. The third section provides a snapshot from the first year of the pandemic into how CARES Act funds were allocated to Native Alaska communities and used to address housing security. This subject was extremely complicated in Alaska due to the existence of for-profit Alaska Native Corporations and disputes over eligibility for the funds impacted disbursements nationwide. The resources in this section cover that dispute, impacts of the pandemic on housing security, and efforts to use the funds for housing as well as barriers Alaska communities faced trying to secure and use the funds. In summary, this annotated bibliography provides an overview of what was happening, in real time, during the pandemic around a specific topic: housing security in largely remote Alaska Native communities. The media used by housing specialists to communicate the issues discussed here are diverse, ranging from news reports to podcasts and from blogs to journal articles. This diversity speaks to the multiple ways in which information was circulating on housing at a time when the nightly news and radio broadcasts focused heavily on national and state health updates and policy developments. Finding these materials took time, and we share them here because they illustrate why attention to housing security issues is critical for addressing crises like the pandemic. For instance, one theme that emerged out of a recent National Science Foundation workshop on COVID research in the North NSF Conference[4] was that Indigenous communities are not only recovering from the pandemic but also evaluating lessons learned to better prepare for the next one, and resilience will depend significantly on more—and more adaptable—infrastructure and greater housing security. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Initiated by the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), the GIS&T Body of Knowledge (BoK) is a community‐driven endeavor to define, develop, and document geospatial topics related to geographic information science and technologies (GIS&T). In recent years, GIS&T BoK has undergone rigorous development in terms of its topic re‐organization and content updating, resulting in a new digital version of the project. While the BoK topics provide useful materials for researchers and students to learn about GIS, the semantic relationships among the topics, such as semantic similarity, should also be identified so that a better and automated topic navigation can be achieved. Currently, the related topics are either defined manually by editors or authors, which may result in an incomplete assessment of topic relationships. To address this challenge, our research evaluates the effectiveness of multiple natural language processing (NLP) techniques in extracting semantics from text, including both deep neural networks and traditional machine learning approaches. Besides, a novel text summarization—KACERS (Keyword‐Aware Cross‐Encoder‐Ranking Summarizer)—is proposed to generate a semantic summary of scientific publications. By identifying the semantic linkages among key topics, this work guides the future development and content organization of the GIS&T BoK project. It also offers a new perspective on the use of machine learning techniques for analyzing scientific publications and demonstrates the potential of the KACERS summarizer in semantic understanding of long text documents.

    more » « less
  3. The geographic settings and interests of diverse groups of rights- and stakeholders figure prominently in the need for internationally coordinated Arctic observing systems. Global and regional observing systems exist to coordinate observations across sectors and national boundaries, leveraging limited resources into widely available observational data and information products. Observing system design and coordination approaches developed for more focused networks at mid- and low latitudes are not necessarily directly applicable in more complex Arctic settings. Requirements for the latter are more demanding because of a greater need for cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral prioritization and refinement from the local to the pan-Arctic scale, in order to maximize the use of resources in challenging environmental settings. Consideration of Arctic Indigenous Peoples’s observing priorities and needs has emerged as a core tenet of governance and coordination frameworks. We evaluate several different types of observing systems relative to the needs of the Arctic observing community and information users to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each framework. A typology of three approaches emerges from this assessment: “essential variable,” “station model,” and “central question.” We define and assess, against the requirements of Arctic settings, the concept of shared Arctic variables (SAVs) emerging from the Arctic Observing Summit 2020 and prior work by the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks Road Mapping Task Force. SAVs represent measurable phenomena or processes that are important enough to multiple communities and sectors to make the effort to coordinate observation efforts worthwhile. SAVs align with essential variables as defined, for example, by global observing frameworks, in that they guide coordinated observations across processes that are of interest to multiple sectors. SAVs are responsive to the information needs of Arctic Indigenous Peoples and draw on their capacity to codesign and comanage observing efforts. SAVs are also tailored to accommodate the logistical challenges of Arctic operations and address unique aspects of the Arctic environment, such as the central role of the cryosphere. Specific examples illustrate the flexibility of the SAV framework in reconciling different observational approaches and standards such that the strengths of global and regional observing programs can be adapted to the complex Arctic environment. 
    more » « less
  4. Between 2018 and 2021 PIs for National Science Foundation Awards # 1758781 and 1758814 EAGER: Collaborative Research: Developing and Testing an Incubator for Digital Entrepreneurship in Remote Communities, in partnership with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, the traditional tribal consortium of the 42 villages of Interior Alaska, jointly developed and conducted large-scale digital and in-person surveys of multiple Alaskan interior communities. The survey was distributed via a combination of in-person paper surveys, digital surveys, social media links, verbal in-person interviews and telephone-based responses. Analysis of this measure using SAS demonstrated the statistically significant need for enhanced digital infrastructure and reworked digital entrepreneurial and technological education in the Tanana Chiefs Conference region. 1. Two statistical measures were created during this research: Entrepreneurial Readiness (ER) and Digital Technology needs and skills (DT), both of which showed high measures of internal consistency (.89, .81). 2. The measures revealed entrepreneurial readiness challenges and evidence of specific addressable barriers that are currently preventing (serving as hindrances) to regional digital economic activity. The survey data showed statistically significant correlation with the mixed-methodological in-person focus groups and interview research conducted by the PIs and TCC collaborators in Hughes and Huslia, AK, which further corroborated stated barriers to entrepreneurship development in the region. 3. Data generated by the survey and fieldwork is maintained by the Tanana Chiefs Conference under data sovereignty agreements. The survey and focus group data contains aggregated statistical/empirical data as well as qualitative/subjective detail that runs the risk of becoming personally identifiable especially due to (but not limited to) to concerns with exceedingly small Arctic community population sizes. 4. This metadata is being provided in order to serve as a record of the data collection and analysis conducted, and also to share some high-level findings that, while revealing no personal information, may be helpful for policymaking, regional planning and efforts towards educational curricular development and infrastructural investment. The sample demographics consist of 272 women, 79 men, and 4 with gender not indicated as a response. Barriers to Entrepreneurial Readiness were a component of the measure. Lack of education is the #1 barrier, followed closely by lack of access to childcare. Among women who participated in the survey measure, 30% with 2 or more children report lack of childcare to be a significant barrier to entrepreneurial and small business activity. For entrepreneurial readiness and digital economy, the scales perform well from a psychometric standpoint. The summary scores are roughly normally distributed. Cronbach’s alphas are greater than 0.80 for both. They are moderately correlated with each other (r = 0.48, p < .0001). Men and women do not differ significantly on either measure. Education is significantly related to the digital economy measure. The detail provided in the survey related to educational needs enabled optimized development of the Incubator for Digital Entrepreneurship in Remote Communities. Enhanced digital entrepreneurship training with clear cultural linkages to traditions and community needs, along with additional childcare opportunities are two among several specific recommendations provided to the TCC. The project PIs are working closely with the TCC administration and community members related to elements of culturally-aligned curricular development that respects data tribal sovereignty, local data management protocols, data anonymity and adherence to human subjects (IRB) protocols. While the survey data is currently embargoed and unable to be submitted publicly for reasons of anonymity, the project PIs are working with the NSF Arctic Data Center towards determining pathways for sharing personally-protected data with the larger scientific community. These approaches may consist of aggregating and digitally anonymizing sensitive data in ways that cannot be de-aggregated and that meet agency and scientific community needs (while also fully respecting and protecting participants’ rights and personal privacy). At present the data sensitivity protocols are not yet adapted to TCC requirements and the datasets will remain in their care. 
    more » « less
  5. Spatial resolution is critical for observing and monitoring environmental phenomena. Acquiring high-resolution bathymetry data directly from satellites is not always feasible due to limitations on equipment, so spatial data scientists and researchers turn to single image super-resolution (SISR) methods that utilize deep learning techniques as an alternative method to increase pixel density. While super resolution residual networks (e.g., SR-ResNet) are promising for this purpose, several challenges still need to be addressed: (1) Earth data such as bathymetry is expensive to obtain and relatively limited in its data record amount; (2) certain domain knowledge needs to be complied with during model training; (3) certain areas of interest require more accurate measurements than other areas. To address these challenges, following the transfer learning principle, we study how to leverage an existing pre-trained super-resolution deep learning model, namely SR-ResNet, for high-resolution bathymetry data generation. We further enhance the SR-ResNet model to add corresponding loss functions based on domain knowledge. To let the model perform better for certain spatial areas, we add additional loss functions to increase the penalty of the areas of interest. Our experiments show our approaches achieve higher accuracy than most baseline models when evaluating using metrics including MSE, PSNR, and SSIM. 
    more » « less