Data Science in Geography?

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group, Spatial Analysis and Modeling Specialty Group, Esri
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Hoover, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: David DiBiase
Chairs: David DiBiase

Call for Submissions

Participation in this panel is by invitation. For information, contact organizer David DiBiase at


Excitement about Data Science expressed research agencies, technology consultants, and higher education administrators has gotten geography’s attention. Some geographers and geography departments are responding with initiatives of their own. Others suspect a fad. Whatever one’s inclination, the emergence of a purported “science of data” raises interesting questions about the “science of geographic information,” with which many geography programs now identify.

This discussion will consider several of those questions, including:

1. Since the leading Data Science strategy documents (such as those by NAS, NIH, NSF) fail to call out spatial data as a distinctive data type, is it time to reconsider the claim that “spatial is special”?

2. Some geographers argue that GIS "has always been part of data science.” Is it really? How do the practices of data science and GIScience - and their associated curricula - actually compare?

3. What ethical challenges do data science and GIScience have in common? Do others stand in contrast?

4. Data Science tends to emphasize prediction, while explanation or understanding is more central to "traditional" science. Does this mean that engagement with Data Science will lead to some realignment of the underlying objectives of GIScience?

5. Which geographers and geography programs are engaging formally with Data Science, what are they doing, and what has been achieved?


Type Details Minutes
Introduction David DiBiase Esri 10
Panelist Michael Goodchild University of California 15
Panelist Alex Singleton 15
Panelist Dieter Pfoser George Mason University 15
Panelist Nicholas Tate University of Leicester 15
Discussant Diana Sinton UCGIS 15
Panelist Xinyue Ye New Jersey Institute of Technology 15

To access contact information login