Digital Geography Lab is recruiting! Three positions now open!

We are opening three positions in the upcoming ERC-funded project GREENTRAVEL: Greener Travel Environments for Everyone – from measured wellbeing impacts to Big Data analytics (2023-2027). The project studies the equitable availability of green travel environments for urban populations, and their potential wellbeing impacts. The project applies a mix of novel approaches from Virtual Reality experimentation to computer vision and from big data mining to spatial analysis. The project starts from the Helsinki region and then expands to several other European cities including London and Berlin. The aim is to produce knowledge that can be used to advance the quality and sustainability of urban environments, for all.

 The following positions are now open:

Doctoral Researcher in Spatial Modelling of Greenery Exposure:
The doctoral researcher will focus on analysing people’s everyday mobilities in urban environments and their exposure to greenery during these travels. During the PhD process, the researchers will grow to be an expert of travel-related greenery exposure modelling using mobile big data and seasonally sensitive greenery information, from the perspective of wellbeing and spatial and social equality.  More information:

Postdoctoral Researcher in Health and Wellbeing Impacts of Green Travel Environments:
The postdoctoral researcher will focus on the wellbeing and health impacts of green travel environments. The research aims at finding out if and how varying types of greenery or other natural elements influence travel experience and wellbeing during daily urban travels, and if seasonal variation and geographical context matters. These questions will be studied through extensive surveys and controlled experimentation in VR and in real environments. The postdoctoral researcher will be offered up to 3-year contract.  More information:

Postdoctoral Researcher in Designing Virtual Reality Environments for Green Travel Experiments:
The postdoctoral researcher focuses on designing realistic virtual reality (VR) environments with varying greenery features and seasons, to be used for controlled experiments of greenery exposure during travel. These experimentations will be a group effort of the GREENTRAVEL project team and the postdoctoral researcher will have a key role in developing the realistic VR environments with varying levels of urban greenery and other nature elements, and studying their usability in controlled scientific experimentations.  More information:


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The Digital Geography Lab is an interdisciplinary research team focusing on spatial Big Data analytics for fair and sustainable societies. Go to the main site here. 


MSc thesis on studying multi-local living in Finland using mobile phone data and electricity consumption data

Author: Iivari Laaksonen

Why is the study relevant?

Multi-local living can be defined by individuals or families having access to more than one residence in their everyday lives. It is a complex social phenomenon causing weekly and seasonal changes in population numbers as people move between regions. This means that the phenomenon is tightly connected to human mobility. In prior research, multi-locality has been mainly studied using official statistics that fail to capture the dynamic nature of people’s mobilities and dwelling. To address this in my thesis, I utilized spatially and temporally accurate big data sources − mobile phone and electricity consumption data − to capture people’s presence and mobility. More accurate information about multi-local living can be useful for local businesses and regional planning in rural areas.

How was the research done?

In my thesis, multi-local living was studied in Finland and in the county of South Savo, which has the highest proportion of second homes/free-time residences in the country. The study was done by analyzing spatiotemporal changes in people’s presence (mobile phone data from Telia Crowd Insights) and by examining how the changes relate to the number of second homes (official statistics) in different areas with correlation analyses. In addition to monthly comparisons, analyses were conducted separately for workdays and weekends to assess how people’s multi-local practices differ between weekdays. The study period of the thesis was from November 2018 to August 2019.

Mobile phone data also contains information about people’s origins (previous night location). This allowed to assess the proportions of origin counties of people visiting South Savo. Moreover, mobile phone data was used to assess the results of second home occupancy in South Savo gained from electricity consumption data which had been previously calculated in the MOPA research project.

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Digital Geography Lab presented the latest research at Mobile Tartu 2022

It was our honour and pleasure to attend the 8th Mobile Tartu conference organized by the Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu, Estonia. The event was once again scientifically fruitful and socially rewarding exactly the way how the founder of the conference, the late professor Rein Ahas had envisioned it!

The members of the Digital Geography Lab were well represented in organising PhD workshops, presenting latest research from various projects, chairing sessions and moderating a panel discussion.


Olle Järv and Oleksandr Karasov organized a PhD workshop on “Social media sources as a tool to monitor cross-border mobility”, and Christoph Fink and Tuuli Toivonen together with our former group member Age Poom organized a PhD workshop on “Data and tools for environmental exposure assessment during urban mobility”.


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Two new studies on revealing cross-border mobility and border regions

One of the goals of the BORDERSPACE project at the Digital Geography Lab is to examine whether and how social media data such as geo-located Twitter data can reveal cross-border mobility of people and provide new insights for understanding border regions. We demonstrate the feasibility of using Twitter data in two different recently published studies – the first study from the Greater Region of Luxembourg and the second study from the Nordic countries.


Study #1: Revealing mobilities of people to understand cross-border regions: insights from Luxembourg using social media data”

Published in European Planning Studies

Authors: Olle Järv, Håvard W. Aagesen, Tuomas Väisänen & Samuli Massinen

Conceptually, our approach was to make big data small and meaningful by: 1) using a bottom-up concept of activity space (e.g. Järv et al., 2014); 2) using mobility as a tool to capture individual activity spaces; and 3) contextualizing mobility from the border perspective.

Figure 1. The conceptual framework of data collection and data enrichment using the activity space approach to reveal cross-border mobilities and its motives from an individual perspective.

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Vuoden avoin oppimateriaali -palkinto 2022 CRITICAL-hankkeen maantieteilijöille

Teksti: Petteri Muukkonen

CRITICAL-hankkeen maantieteilijöiden tiimi Helsingin yliopistosta palkittiin kautta aikain ensimmäisellä kansallisella Vuoden avoin oppimateriaali -palkinnolla. Palkinnon myönsi Avoimen tieteen ja tutkimuksen kansallisen koordinaation sihteeristö, joka toimii osana Tieteellisten seurain valtuuskuntaa. Aiemmin on jaettu vain avoimen tieteen edistämisestä palkintoja, mutta nyt ensimmäistä kertaa palkittiin myös avoimen oppimisen edistäjiä. Palkinto jaettiin Avoimen tieteen kesäpäivien yhteydessä 31.5.2022. Työpaketin vetäjä Petteri Muukkonen on yhdessä muiden CRITICAL-hankkeen maantieteen tutkijoiden sekä opettamansa projektikurssin opiskelijaryhmän kanssa laatinut avoimia oppimateriaaleja paikkatiedon ja geomedian opetukseen käytettäväksi eri koulutustasoilla – esimerkiksi maantieteen lukio-opetuksessa tai yliopistossa kandivaiheen opiskelijoiden kanssa.

TSV:n Petteri Muukkoselle, CRITICAL-hankkeelle sekä GIS project work -kurssin opiskelijoille myöntämä diplomi. (Oikeanpuoleinen kuva: TAUSTA 123RTF, Diplomikuva Ilmari Jauhiainen)

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Geoparsing: How to gain location information from (Finnish) texts?

Author: Tatu Leppämäki

In a nutshell: A geoparser recognizes place names and locates them in a coordinate space. I explored this topic in my thesis and developed an open source geoparser for Finnish texts: find it in this GitHub repo. 

As geographers, we are interested in the spatial aspects of data: where something is located is a prerequisite to the follow-up questions of whys and hows. Of the almost innumerable data sources available online – news articles, social media feeds, digital libraries – a good portion are wholly or partly text-based. Texts and the opinions and sentiments within are often related to space through toponyms (place names). For us humans, it’s very easy to understand a sentence like “I’m enjoying currywurst in Alexanderplatz, Berlin” and the spatial reference there, but geographical information systems process data in unambiguous coordinates. To bridge this gap between linguistic and geospatial information, the text must be analyzed and transformed: in other words, it must be parsed. This is the motivation for the development of geoparsers. 

Geoparsing: what and why 

Geoparsing can be divided into two sub-tasks: toponym recognition and toponym resolution. In the former, the task is to find toponyms amidst the text flows and in the second, to correctly locate the recognized toponyms. A geoparser wraps this process and outputs structured geodata. 

Geoparsing: a top-level view. 

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Geomediaosaaminen esillä Geoinformatiikan tutkimuspäivillä 9.-10.5.2022

Geoinformatiikan tutkimuspäivät kokoavat vuosittain yhteen paikkatietoalan osaajia eri organisaatioista. Tapahtuma järjestettiin vuonna 2022 Helsingin yliopiston Kumpulan kampuksella 9.-10.5.2022. Mukana oli n. 80 kuulijaa, osa paikan päällä, ja osa etäyhteyden kautta. CRITICAL-hanke oli tiistaina 10.5. esillä sessiossa Teaching and learning map and GI skills in various age groups and education levels. Sessio koostui kolmesta esityksestä sekä lyhyestä johdannosta:

  • Petteri Muukkonen, HY. Session johdanto. Katso tallenne.
  • Petteri Muukkonen, HY. CRITICAL-project: Educating critical literacy skills on geomedia and thematic maps. Katso tallenne.
  • Martin Hanus, Charles University, Tsekki, Maps as tools for the development of geographical thinking. Katso tallenne.
  • Sirpa Ojansuu, HY. Kasvattamassa nuoria osallistuviksi kansalaisiksi: kansalaisten kartta- ja paikkatietotaidot tukemassa kaavoitushankkeisiin osallistumista. Katso tallenne.

Koko tapahtuman ohjelma.

Helsingin yliopiston kriittisen geomedialukutaidon tutkimustiimi on osa Strategisen tutkimuksen neuvoston (STN) rahoittamaa CRITICAL-tutkimushanketta.  Tiimissä työskentelevät:
Petteri Muukkonen (tiiminvetäjä, yliopistonlehtori, tutkija, aineenopettaja)
Tua Nylén (tutkija, aineenopettaja)
Markus Jylhä (yliopisto-opettaja, aineenopettaja, viestintävastaava)
Panu Lammi (väitöskirjatutkija, aineenopettaja)
Laura Hynynen (tutkimusavustaja, varhaiskasvatuksen opettaja)
Ronja Päivärinta (harjoittelija)
Michaela Söderholm (harjoittelija)

Modelling and understanding greenery on the scale of people: A look into Jussi Torkko’s MSc thesis

Author: Jussi Torkko

The highlights of the study

Throughout late 2020 and 2021, with the help of Digital Geography Lab, I did my master’s thesis on modelling and understanding how people experience greenery. Most often greenery is observed from a top-down point of view, through the sensors of aerial vehicles or satellites. However, we do not know sufficiently well how greenery measures captured from high above match the true greenery experience by the people on the ground level. This experienced greenery is termed human-scale greenery for this thesis. Methods for modelling and quantifying human-scale greenery are based on data sources like street view images or LiDAR. Similarly to the top-down perspective, it is not known how well these data and methods reflect the experience of people.

This lack of knowledge is what I set out to solve with this thesis. By comparing greenery assessments collected from people by interviews to modelled greenery values from the same locations, I was able to show that all tested greenery modelling methods have a strong linear relationship with the greenery that people experience. However, the results also revealed that the modelling methods underestimate the amount of greenery people perceive and that while the modelled values share a strong relationship with surveyed greenery, there are significant deviations between the modelled and perceived values. Also interestingly, methods created specifically for quantifying human-scale greenery do not always appear to have an advantage over traditional top-down greenery assessment methods.

While interviewing people, I also collected limited sociodemographic data of the respondents. I found that age may affect people’s relationship with greenery, but this could not be confirmed with certainty. However, it was clear that people with less experience of nature and belonging to the age group around 30 years were met more frequently at study sites with low greenery values than other groups of respondents. In future studies, additional attention should thus be given to how people can experience human-scale greenery. More detailed descriptions of the results for both modelled and sociodemographic pathways can be found in the thesis.

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New study on cyclists’ behaviour in Finland

(C) Christoph Fink

Authors: Steve O’Hern (Tampere University), Elias Willberg (University of Helsinki), Christoph Fink (University of Helsinki), Sergio Useche (University of Valencia)


    • We have published a new study on cyclists’ behaviour in Finland in the journal Safety together with researchers from Tampere University and the University of Valencia
    • Using a survey, we aimed at understanding the behaviour and attitudes of bicycle riders in Finland.
    • Our results show that Finnish bicycle riders report low errors and violations, and high levels of knowledge regarding traffic rules, which is consistent with previous similar studies from other countries.
    • Most participants also report low levels of aggression, which is generally dealt with in constructive ways,
    • Anger was most commonly reported a result of interactions with motor vehicles and less with other road users such as pedestrians,
    • The results point to a need for further separation between bicycle riders and motorised vehicles. Furthermore, we recommend to encourage positive behaviour and train risk perception among those engaging in risky behaviors.

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Wrapping up my unforgettable stay at the Digital Geography Lab as a visiting member

Author: Bryan R. Vallejo (@BryanRVallejo)

I remember one day when I was carrying out research about the accessibility of elderly population in the context of the steep streets of the historical center of Quito, Ecuador. I found an outstanding paper related to accessibility modelling as a function of time. Since then, I started reading papers written by the members of the Digital Geography Lab (DGL) and my curiosity about their work in geography got awaken. I hoped that one day I will be able to learn from them and gain understanding how to examine our society through digital data and novel tools. Surprisingly, after a year and a half, I am a former visitor of DGL, and I can truly say that this experience was life changing!

Thanks to the University of Tartu, I got the opportunity to be an exchange student during my master studies in geoinformatics. I wanted to learn geospatial analysis and Python programming, and advance my skills in the well-known Python courses given by the members of DGL. The courses taken at the University of Helsinki were an excellent match, and fortunately, I was able to use my new coding skills when joining DGL as a trainee in the BORDERSPACE project under the supervision of Olle Järv.

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