About Me

My name is Yingjie Hu. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo (UB) and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). My major research area is in geographic information science (GIScience), and more specifically in spatial, temporal, and textual analysis, data-driven geospatial semantics, and geographic information retrieval. I develop and integrate spatial analysis methods, natural language processing, machine learning and deep learning techniques to discover knowledge from various geo data for supporting disaster response, urban planning, digital humanities, and other applications. I lead the Geospatial Artificial Intelligence (GeoAI) Lab at UB.

Previously, I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). I hold a PhD from the Department of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). I was a member of the Space and Time Knowledge Organization (STKO) Lab at UCSB. I was also a research engineer during summers at the Applications Prototype Lab in Esri Inc., where I designed and developed prototypes for the next generation's GIS.

Research Interests

  • GIScience
  • Spatial Data Science
  • Spatial and Textual Analysis
  • Geospatial Semantics
  • GeoAI
  • Geographic Information Retrieval
  • Information Value Measurement
  • Geo-Knowledge Graph
  • Spatial Data Infrastructure
  • Public Participation GIS
  • Nighttime Light Remote Sensing


  • 9/2011 - 6/2016: PhD in Geography, University of California, Santa Babara, USA.
    Major Area: Cartography and GIS (Geospatial Semantics, with an additional emphasis on Cognitive Science)
  • 9/2008 - 6/2011: MS in Geography, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
    Major Area: Cartography and GIS (3D GIS and Web GIS)
  • 9/2004 - 6/2008: BS in Geography, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
    Major Area: Cartography and GIS (GIS Software Engineering)


See also:

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles:

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters:

Peer-reviewed Conference Articles (Full Papers Only):

Peer-reviewed Short Papers or Extended Abstracts:

Professional Presentations:


Harvesting Local Place Names

Related paper

Local place names are frequently used by residents living in a geographic region. Such place names may not be recorded in existing gazetteers. In this work, we propose a computational framework for harvesting local place names from geotagged housing posts. We make use of those posts on local-oriented websites, such as Craigslist, where local place names are often mentioned. The proposed framework consists of two stages: natural language processing (NLP) and multi-scale geospatial clustering.

Code: https://github.com/YingjieHu/LocalPlaceName

Place Names and Spatial Locations

Related paper

In this project, we conduct an empirical study based on 112,071 POIs in seven US metropolitan areas extracted from an open Yelp dataset. We propose to adopt term frequency and inverse document frequency in geographic contexts to identify local terms used in POI names and to analyze their usages across different POI types. Our results show an uneven usage of local terms across POI types. We also examine the decaying effect of POI name similarity with the increase of distance among POIs.

Code: https://github.com/YingjieHu/POI_Name

Semantic Relatedness between Cities

Related paper

This project develops a topic modeling based workflow for extracting semantic relatedness between cities from news articles. News articles contain a rich amount of information about cities and their relations. The developed workflow makes use of city co-occurrences in news articles, and employs a topic model, LLDA, to analyze the full texts of news articles and to extract city relatedness. The extracted semantic relatedness can contribute to applications such as urban planning and GIR.

Code: https://github.com/YingjieHu/CityRelatednessViaNews

Information Value for Disaster Response

Related paper

In recent years, online volunteers have played important roles in disaster responses by mapping the disaster-affected areas based on remote sensing images. Typically, the disaster-affected area is divided into a number of cells using a grid-based tessellation. Online volunteers can then select a grid cell to start the mapping task. While such an approach coordinates the efforts from many volunteers, it does not differentiate the priorities of the different cells. In this research, we propose an analytical framework based on information value theory which can prioritize the grid cells based on the value of road network information contained in these cells.

Information Value for Space-Time Tasks

Related paper

While we have access to an increasing amount of information, the newly invented mobile devices, such as smart watches, are often equipped with only small screens. The limited display space restricts the number of information items that can be displayed at each time. Which information should be displayed first? Should it be the weather information, information about traffic conjestions, flight arrival information, meeting schedule, or some others? This work proposes an analytical framework which integrates information value theory with space-time prisms, and quantifies the value of information based on its spatiotemporal impact on the tasks of an individual.

Semantically-Enabled Data for NSF GeoLink

Related paper

GeoLink is a building block project in the NSF EarthCube program. It leverages the Semantic Web technologies to harmonize and link separate data repositories in geoscience. Seven data repositories (e.g., BCO-DMO and DataONE) have joined this project so far. Modular ontologies have been developed to link the heterogenous data, and a user interface has been designed which allows users to explore the data as tabular forms, maps, and graphs.

URL: http://demo.geolink.org/

Semantic Topics for Metadata Enrichment

Related paper

This project harmonizes the heterogenous metadata in a geoportal based on the ISO 19115 standard. A natural language processing model, Labeled Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LLDA), has been trained based on the metadata from data.gov. The trained LLDA model is then applied to the user-contributed ArcGIS Online data to harmonize the heterogenous metadata. Multiples tabs have been designed which can display the results in each topic.

URL: http://stko-exp.geog.ucsb.edu/linkedportal/

Place Name Disambiguation

Related paper

This project aims to understand the semantics of place names and improve the accuracy of place name disambiguation in short texts. Wikipedia is a data source that has been frequently employed as ground truth descriptions. However, Wikipedia articles do not emphasize the terms which represent important entities. We combine the entities from DBpedia (the semantic web version of Wikipedia) and designed a co-occurance model to improve the disambiguation result.

Code: https://github.com/YingjieHu/Place-Disambiguation

Urban Areas of Interest

Related paper

This project uses geo-tagged Flickr photo data to discover the areas of interest (AOI) within a city. Flickr data from six different cities in the past 10 years have been used for this study. Clusters have been identified at locations where most people took photos. We detect clusters using DBSCAN, and construct polygons using the chi-shape algorithm. In order to understand the semantics of the extracted AOIs, we also extract the distinctive tags and representative photos within these areas.

URL: http://stko-exp.geog.ucsb.edu/urbanAOIs/index.html

Semantic Search for ArcGIS Online

Related paper

We enable semantic search for maps by expanding an input query with related thematic concepts and geographic terms. Related thematic concepts are identified using Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) and WordNet. Related geographic entities are found using a gazetteer Geonames.

URL: http://stko-exp.geog.ucsb.edu/linkedarcgis/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38ssyXaP7v0

Semantic Web Portal for Web@25

Blog article

This project celebrates the 25th birthday of the Web by building an online portal using Semantic Web technologies. We use the publication data from the WWW conference, and develop three major modules for this portal. The timeline module shows the major topics in the past 10 years. The geographic map module visualizes the spatial distribution of these topics. The self-organization map shows the hierachical relations between research topics and visualizes them using a map metaphor.

URL: http://stko-exp.geog.ucsb.edu/web25portal/

Point of Interest (POI) Pulse

Related paper

This project reclassifies the categories of Point of Interest (POIs) from Foursquare using support vector machine. One POI is classified into multiple categories based on its spatial, temporal, and thematic characteristics. We visualize a large amount of POI data using HTML5 and javascript, and discovered a tipping point to switch between vector and raster representations. This project also enables one to explore the dynamics or pulse of a city by visualing real-time user activities on Foursquare.

URL: http://stko-poi.geog.ucsb.edu/prod/lapulse/

Scientometrics Portal for Learning Analytics

Related paper

This is a project developed for the Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Challenge. We make use of the LAK community's publication data, and visualize the geographic collaboration patterns, coauthor networks, and citation distributions of academic papers. We have also designed a tool for reviewer recommendation. We won the Second Prize Award in this LAK Challenge.

URL: http://stko-exp.geog.ucsb.edu/lak/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_Bsm_fEJkA

Semantic Web Journal Portal

Related paper

A project for the Semantic Web Journal to improve the analysis of the journal’s publication data, including the number of publications, citations for each author. Analysis results are then visualized using techniques such as D3.

URL: http://semantic-web-journal.com/SWJPortal/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPWVfLaC6Co

Citation Map

Related paper

A project for the AAG Mashup Competition that visualizes the citation data on a global scale map. This application locates the first author of a paper, and then searches all researchers who have cited this paper in their work. Finally, the locations of these researchers are visualized on a map. We won the Finalist Award.

URL: http://stko-work.geog.ucsb.edu:8080/map/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC309dGdJM0

Space-Time Contexts for File Management

Related paper

This project proposes to augment file management systems with space-time contexts, so that locations and time are attached to digital files that we use everyday on laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Such addtional indices allow users to search files based on not only traditional folder hierachies but also the space-time contexts in which files have been used. For example, finding a document you opened in Washington DC during a conference last month.

Videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFhPhj5gObI

3D GIS for Public Participation

Related paper

This system supports the collaborations of participants in different stages of decision making in contexts such as urban planning. Participants can not only provide comments and feedbacks on existing plans, but also engage in intensive discussions and real-time design. This system integrates the concept of GeoDesign and helps to answer the "what if" questions in many applications.

Code: https://github.com/YingjieHu/PPGIS

3D GIS for Agriculture Management

A 3D GI system developed for Chongming, Shanghai, China. This system has been designed to provide local farmers with easy access to agricultural information and help them better manage their lands and crops.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LifF-0Rghtg

3D GIS for Pollution Mornitoring

A 3D GI system developed for pollution mornitoring in Shanghai, China. This system was designed for Shanghai Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help manage the information about electricity and sewage plants. Alerts will be issued when real-time pollution exceeds a threshold level.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiuJLIOrXqI

3D GIS for Greenspace Planning

A 3D GI system developed for planning greenspace in Shanghai, China. This system allows users to plan the greenspace in different ways by choosing grass types and tree species. It then visualizes the possible results to the users.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATphYE3NPQQ


Courses Taught at UB:

  • GEO 281: Web-based Geographic Information Systems
  • GEO 481/506: Geographic Information Systems
  • GEO 503: Geography Seminar

Courses Taught at UTK:

  • GEOG 411: Intermediate Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 414: Geodatabase and Spatial Data Management
  • GEOG 509: Geospatial Semantics

Courses Taught at UCSB:

  • GEOG 12: Maps and Spatial Reasoning
  • GEOG 176A: Introduction to Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 176B: Technical Issues in GIS
  • GEOG 176C: GIS Project Management


Peer Reviewer for Academic Journals

Community Services

  • Committee Member, UCGIS Research Committee, 2019.
  • Program Committee Member, 2019 International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT), Sept. 9-13, 2019, Regensburg, Germany.
  • Lead Organizer, 2019 AAG Symposium on GeoAI and Deep Learning in Geospatial Research, Apr. 3-7, 2019, Washington DC, USA.
  • Chair, 2018 ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on GeoAI: AI for Geographic Knowledge Discovery, Nov. 6, 2018, Seattle, USA.
  • Paper Co-Chair, 9th Workshop on Ontology Design and Patterns, Oct. 9, 2018, Monterey, USA.
  • Guest Editor, GeoAI: Artificial Intelligence Techniques for Geographic Knowledge Discovery, IJGIS, 2018.
  • Lead Organizer, 2018 AAG Symposium on GeoAI and Deep Learning in Geospatial Research, 2018, New Orleans, USA.
  • Member, AAG Geographic Information Science and Systems (GISS) Specialty Group, 2016-2018.
  • BOD Member, Chinese Professional in Geographic Information Systems, 2018-2019.
  • Program Committee Member, Location Privacy and Security Workshop, 2018.
  • General Co-Chair, 2017 ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on GeoAI: AI for Geographic Knowledge Discovery, Nov. 7, 2017, Los Angeles, USA.
  • Program Committee Member, 27th International World Wide Web Conference, Apr. 23-27, 2018, Lyon, France.
  • Program Committee Member, 9th International Conference on Knowledge Capture, Dec. 4th-6, 2017, Austin, USA.
  • Organization Committee Member, Workshop on Geo-Knowledge Graphs, Sep. 4, 2017, L’Aquila, Italy.
  • Program Committee Member, 16th International Semantic Web Conference, Oct. 21-25, 2017, Vienna, Austria.
  • Program Committee Member, 8th Workshop on Ontology Design and Patterns, Oct. 21, 2017, Vienna, Austria.
  • Program Committee Member, 7th Workshop on Ontology and Semantic Web Patterns, Oct. 17, 2016, Kobe, Japan.
  • Program Committee Member, 6th Workshop on Ontology and Semantic Web Patterns, Oct. 11, 2015, Bethlehem, USA.
  • Program Committee Member, 29th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Jan. 25-30, 2015, Austin, USA.
  • Program Committee Member, 19th Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management, Nov. 24-28, 2014, Linköping, Sweden.
  • Local Organizer, GeoVoCamp Series, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, Santa Barbara, USA.

Department Services (University at Buffalo)

  • GIS Lab Updating (Upgrading to ArcGIS Pro), 2019

Department Services (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

  • Graduate Program Committee, 2017-2018
  • Special Events Committee, 2017-2018
  • Social Media Committee, 2016-2018
  • Student Internship Committee, 2016-2018
  • Office Space Committee, 2016-2017

Department Services (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Events Committee, 2014-2016
  • Computing Committee, 2013-2014

Memberships of Professional Associations


  • UTK Professional and Scholarly Development Award, 2017
  • UCSB Geography Excellence in Research Award, 2016
  • National Award for Outstanding Chinese PhD Students Studying Abroad, 2016
  • Graduate Scholarship from Chinese-American Engineers and Scientists Association of Southern California, 2016
  • Doctoral Scholarship from the Cartography and Geographic Information Society, 2016
  • UCSB Graduate Division travel award, 2015
  • UCSB Graduate Student Association travel award, 2015
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for Vespucci Institute, 2015
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for AGILE 205 conference, 2015
  • NSF EarthCube Early Career Scholar travel award, 2015
  • UCSB Affiliates dissertation fellowship, 2015
  • UCSB Graduate dissertation fellowship, 2015
  • AAG International Geographic Information Fund award, 2015
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for LAK 2014 conference, 2014
  • 2nd prize award for Learning Analytics and Knowledge Data Challenge, 2014
  • Jack Dangermond fellowship for outstanding PhD students in GIS, 2013
  • Finalist award for AAG Robert Raskin Mashup Mapping Competition, 2013
  • NSF travel award for the 20th ACM GIS conference, 2012.
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for the 7th GIScience conference, 2012.
  • NSF travel award for the 6th RR Conference, 2012.
  • UCSB Geography Doctoral Scholars fellowship, 2011.
  • Excellent Master Thesis, 2011.
  • Scholarship for excellent graduate students, 2009- 2011.
  • Excellent Graduate Student of East China Normal University, 2009 - 2011.
  • Excellent Graduate of Shanghai municipality, 2008.
  • Excellent Bachelor Thesis, 2008.
  • Scholarship for excellent undergraduate students, 2005 - 2007.
  • Excellent Undergraduate Student of East China Normal University, 2005 - 2008.



Yingjie Hu

Email: yhu42 at buffalo dot edu

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Yingjie Hu Yingjie Hu 1985-11-20 Assistant Professor Male Yingjie Hu is an Assistant Professor of Geography.