Call: Discovery, Exploration and Understanding of Urban Context – Workshop in conjunction with MobileHCI ’14

Discovery, Exploration and Understanding of Urban Context
Workshop, in conjunction with MobileHCI ’14

September 23, 2014, Toronto, Canada

Call for Papers

Mobile technology offers significant potential to connect users to their immediate geographic environment. Yet existing approaches to doing so are largely visual, which can isolate users from that environment, and utilitarian, such as directing a user to a destination or showing nearby coffee shops as a list. The recent rise of geo-social media (images, text updates and check-ins) has offered new ways to support contextualising the environment and connecting users with it. Work such as PULSE (that presents geographically nearby tweets as audio), Columbus (that allows the rediscovery of photographs taken in the nearby environment) and HotCity (that uses check-in data to create context-sensitive heatmaps to show tourists the socially active areas of a city) have shown how this media can be used to provoke and engage users with the environment through mobile technology, without isolating them from that environment.

In this workshop we will explore how this media, or ‘urban context’, can be used to encourage more playful and exploratory engagement by users with their immediate built environment. Using the geo-social media about that environment as a way to encourage users to discover it in-situ. Contribution areas include (but are not limited to):

  • Geo-Social Media
  • Geo-HCI
  • Multimodal Interaction
  • Data fusion
  • Tourism Applications
  • Pedestrian Navigation
  • Pervasive Displays
  • Urban Context
  • Pervasive Interaction
  • Geo-Visualisation

The workshop will take the form of a “challenge”. To support the challenge, we will provide an historical social context dataset from three cities: Oulu (FI), Glasgow (GB) and Patras (GR). Oulu and Patras are relatively small cities (~200K people), Glasgow is mid-size (~600K). These datasets provide publically accessible data about the city-centre areas based on the Foursquare, Facebook and Google Place datasets (e.g. when and where people check-in, likes and tags of locations etc.), collated over several months. A RESTful API on historical social media use will be provided on the workshop webpage.

To obtain access to the dataset and participate in the challenge, participants should email an (up to) 4-page CHI EA format abstract in pdf format to the organisers. This should clearly articulate a position relevant to the workshop. It should also briefly describe a proposed prototype (installation, artefact, app or other system) that illustrates this position.  Note that submissions may use other data sources as necessary, and are not required to use the dataset provided. A document describing the dataset in detail is available on the workshop webpage (

On acceptance, authors are expected to construct the whole or part of their prototype and bring it to the workshop as a discussion aid. Note these are not expected to be fully working systems, but they should clearly illustrate the position to others at the workshop. At least one author must register for the workshop and the conference.

Abstract Submission Deadline:  May 30th 2014

Notification and access to challenge dataset:  June 30th 2014

Workshop:  23rd September 2014

Submissions should be made to

Questions or queries can be sent to


David McGookin (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh)
Andreas Komninos (Strathclyde University)
Vassilis Kostakos (University of Oulu)

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