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Formalising and understanding place-based in­for­mation and statistics

Place is one of the imminent challenges in geographical information science. In distinction to space, the concept of place describes the way people think about the world and how they conceptualise their everyday geographies. However, people do this in a variety of often subjective and informal ways. For this reason, the concept of place in a human-geographical sense does not lend itself well to formalisation and quanitative treatment. We participate in the place discourse by working on basic aspects of place-related information, that is, on understanding how people reflect their meaningful places in information structures. We also investigate whether and how places can be studied statistically.

Geography has long been concerned with the subject of place. Geographers, in collaboration with philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and other related scholars, have acquired a rich understanding of how people feel attached to geographical locations. This encompasses a range of approaches, from humanistic perspectives to the application of critical theory and non-representational theories. Most of this research, however, is qualitative and narrative in nature. The formal sciences, including geographical information science and statistics, have contributed little to place-related research. At the Spatial Modelling Lab, we are interested in investigating in depth and from a formal perspective how people reflect their sense of place in information structures. We are looking at novel data sources such as social media, blogs, online discourses, and many others in order to obtain a systematic understanding of general, underlying structures that characterise place-based reflections in data and information. Furthermore, we are interested in modelling and processing place-based information. To this end, we explore possible data structures and formal constructs to capture places and their characteristics with sufficient accuracy and detail. Closely related to this, we investigate the methodological implications of the change from space to place with respect to clustering, visualisation and other methods. Based on our statistical expertise, we particularly want to contribute to possible statistical treatments of place. How can we extract generalisable knowledge about place making, place attachment and other topics from large amounts of possibly subjective, often even idiosyncratic information? By answering such questions, we contribute to cutting-edge research in this novel field of research.


Westerholt, R. (2021): Emphasising spatial structure in geosocial media data using spatial amplifier filtering. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, volume and issue pending. DOI: 10.1177/2399808320987235.

Westerholt, R., Lorei, H. and Höfle, B. (2020): Behavioural effects of spatially structured scoring systems in location-based serious games – A case study in the context of OpenStreetMap. International Journal of Geo-Information, 9 (2), 129. DOI: 10.3390/ijgi9020129.

Lorei, H., Höfle, B., Westerholt, R. (2020): Spatial Structure as an Element of Motivation in Location- Based Games. Tagungsband der 40. Wissenschaftlich-Technischen Jahrestagung der DGPF, Stuttgart, Germany, Band 29, 290–298.

Wagner, D., Zipf, A., Westerholt, R. (2020): Place in the GIScience Community – an indicative and preliminary systematic literature review. In: Westerholt R., Mocnik, F.-B. (eds) Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Platial Information Science (PLATIAL’19). Coventry, UK, 13–22. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3628855.

Westerholt, R. (2019): Statistische Räumliche Analyse in der Digitalen Transformation: das Beispiel Geosozialer Medien. Münchner GI-Runde 2019, Munich, Germany.

Westerholt, R. (2019): Methodological aspects of the spatial analysis of geosocial media feeds: from locations towards places. gis.Science, 31 (31), 65–76.

Westerholt, R., Gröbe, M., Zipf, A. and Burghardt, D. (2018): Towards the statistical analysis and visualization of places. 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science, Melbourne, Australia, DOI: LIPIcs.GIScience.2018.63.


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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

Site Map of TU Dort­mund University (Second Page in English)