Thematic Navigation in Space and Time

Interdependencies of Spatial, Temporal and Thematic Navigation for Cartographic Visualization

By Example of a European Map of Cultural Heritage

Abstract for the SVG.Open 2005 Conference, Enschede, The Netherlands

Andreas Neumann
Institute of Cartography
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
ETH Hoenggerberg
CH-8093 Zurich


Keywords: Interactive SVG Maps, Navigation, Space, Time, Topic, Information Visualization

As GISystems get more mature and spatial research questions more complex, time is regarded a crucial component of GIS data models. Cartographic visualization can be one useful method to present dynamic spatial data and visualize changes over time, hence assisting in the study of spatio-temporal patterns and phenomena.

However, time is still not an integral part of GISystems and incorporating time in standard GISoftware, both concerning data models and visualization, is still a challenge. While considerable research dealt with the visualization of dynamic data, as well as with the navigation within larger geographic datasets, graphical user interfaces for temporal navigation are still in their infancy. Little is known about the relationships between space, time and topic, especially in the context of navigation. New interactive media require sophisticated navigation controls in order to facilitate the study of spatio-temporal patterns in the context of various related topics.

The paper presents the current results of a PhD work and contributes in the following areas:

The current results of developing an interactive european map of cultural heritage are presented. The application serves as a proof of concept for navigation techniques examined during the PhD work. It is written in SVG and Javascript and runs in any webbrowser and platform supported by the Adobe SVG viewer or in the standalone Apache Batik viewer. Data is served from spatial databases and XML files.

The visualization includes a map component with the corresponding spatial navigation tools, a interactive timeline for temporal navigation and hierarchic navigation in the various topics, and finally a network diagram that displays relations between persons, events and artwork. All three visualization components are linked to each other. Changing one dimension in any of the spatial, temporal or thematic dimension, has effects on the navigation in the dependent variables and in the three visualization results. Highlighting one element in either of the three visualization forms, highlights the corresponding elements in the two other visualization types.

The geographic base data is derived and enhanced from the public domain datasets WDBII (rivers, lakes, coastlines, border lines) and NIMA Geonet Names Server (city and other point data and geographic names). Thematic data is used from the Twistory project (events, people) and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles (artists, artwork). Direct links are provided for google search and into the Wikipedia project.