Exploring the Frontier of Multivariate Geovisualization: Virtual Reality and Parallelization in GeoDa
College: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Award year: 2004-2005
GeoDa was developed as part of an NSF funded research infrastructure project and is designed to be an "introduction to spatial data analysis." It is highly interactive and extends the principle of dynamically linked windows (observations highlighted in one graph or map being simultaneously highlighted in all) to incorporate the notions of global and local spatial and space-time autocorrelation from spatial statistics. This allows the investigation of clusters and outliers in geospatial data sets, a powerful collection of methods with applications ranging from criminology, epidemiology, to public health and environmental analysis, with an important outreach component. The software includes these techniques in addition to standard exploratory data analysis tools, such as scatter plots, parallel coordinate plots, and 3-dimensional scatter plots.
While powerful, the current implementation of the software and associated methods is somewhat limited in terms of the number of analyses that can reasonably be shown on a standard desktop (limited desktop real estate), the counterintuitive nature of brushing and linking three dimensional graphs in two dimensions (projected onto a two dimensional plane), and the size of the data sets that can reasonably be explored. A crucial aspect of such exploration is immediate feedback to the user. The three core aspects of the project are intended to address these limitations. The use of virtual reality in the CAVE environment provides new opportunities for interactive visualization of three dimensional patterns (including space-time patterns), and the wall provides not only extensive screen real estate for multiple linked windows but also extensive algorithms for parallelization. The application of parallel algorithms in spatial statistics is still in its infancy and its further development is an important methodological aspect of the project.