Ethical Spatial Analytics

As part of its annual workshop series, the Spatial Analysis Research Center (SPARC) at Arizona State University presented a webinar on Ethical Spatial Analytics. This webinar was part of an inaugural webinar in a broader, multi-year initiative on ethics in geographic research being jointly organized by The American Association of Geographers, Esri, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and SPARC.  

Presented on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021, an expert-led discussion of ethical challenges and opportunities at the frontier of geographic research. Featured speakers included:

  • Peter Rogerson (University at Buffalo) who presented ethical paradoxes that arise when attempting to make decisions based on inferences informed by spatial statistical decision making
  • Renee Sieber (McGill University) who discussed ethical implications of GeoAI and locational big data
  • Jacqueline Vadjunec (Oklahoma State University) who discussed ethical dimensions of spatial analyses based on data generated during citizen science projects, an ongoing need for mixed methods research, and implications of both for reproducibility
  • Mia Bennett (University of Hong Kong) and Luis Alvarez Leon (Dartmouth College) who discussed the ethical implications and property regimes of remote sensing

An interactive panel discussion hosted by Peter Kedron, Amy Frazier, and Michael Goodchild followed the remarks of the speakers, where they also introduced a series of follow-up activities, preview forthcoming lectures, and provided further information on how to engage with the ongoing AAG initiative on Ethics in Geographic Research. Please see below for videos showcasing the presentaitons and discussion!

Further Information about the AAG Series on Ethics in Geographic Research

Follow the latest developments and all the updates from the AAG GeoEthics Webinar Series. This site will be continually updated as further webinar information becomes available and follow-up activities begin.

About the presenters:

Luis F. Alvarez Leon – Dartmouth College

Luis F. Alvarez Leon is an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth College. He is a political economic geographer with substantive interests in geospatial data, media, and technologies. His work integrates the geographic, political, and regulatory dimensions of digital economies under capitalism with an emphasis on technologies that manage, represent, navigate, and commodify space. Ongoing research projects examine the geographic transformations surrounding the emergence of autonomous vehicles and the industrial and geopolitical reconfigurations resulting from the proliferation of small satellites.


Mia Bennett – University of Hong Kong

Mia M. Bennett is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Hong Kong. Through fieldwork and remote sensing, she researches the geopolitics of development in frontier spaces, namely the Arctic and along the more remote corridors of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Current research projects include examining Indigenous attitudes to development in Alaska and Malaysia and conceptualizing an agenda for critical remote sensing. Mia also edits a long-running blog on the Arctic at


Peter Rogerson – State University of New York at Buffalo

Peter A. Rogerson is SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo.  His interests are in the areas of population geography, demography, spatial analysis, and spatial statistics.  He also holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Biostatistics. He is the author of Statistical Methods for Geography, now in its 5th edition.  He is also author of Spatial Statistical Methods for Geography, forthcoming from Sage Publications.


Renee Sieber – McGill University

Renée Sieber is a professor, jointly appointed between the Geography Department and the Bieler School of Environment at McGill University, in Montréal, Canada. She is also affiliated with McGill’s School of Computer Science and McGill’s Digital Humanities Working Group. Sieber works at the intersection of social theory and software architectures. She is best known for her research on Public Participation GIS/ Participatory GIS. Her varied research interests also include public engagement in climate modelling and weather-related citizen science, geospatial ontologies among Indigenous and First Nations Peoples and the adoption of new computational technologies in cities. She is a fellow of the American Association of Geographers and recipient of the lifetime achievement award in GIScience from the Canadian Association of Geographers. She recently concluded a $6.7 million CAN pan-Canadian project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and partners, called Geothink, to investigate how citizens and cities interact via the geospatial web 2.0, crowdsourcing and open government data. She is currently researching the role of artificial intelligence in civic governance.


Jacqueline Vadjunec – Oklahoma State University  

Jacqueline Vadjunec is a professor in the Geography Department at Oklahoma State University.  Her research interests include the human dimensions of global environmental change, land system science, common property theory, natural resource management, cultural and political ecology, and mixed and participatory research methods. Her research centers on the adaptation and resilience of small farmer and extractivist households in the Americas, and has been funded by NSF, the USDA, and Fulbright. Jacqueline served as an NSF program officer from 2018-2020 for Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS)/Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences (HEGs) as well as a variety of transdisplinary programs such as Navigating the New Arctic (NNA), Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems (CNH2/DISES), Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water (INFEWS), Coastlines and People (CoPe), and Signals in the Soil (SiTs).

Videos from the workshop:

A welcome message from Michael F. Goodchild, co-chair of the AAG GeoEthics committee and member of SPARC.

In this presentation, Peter Rogerson (State University of New York at Buffalo) discusses the ethical paradoxes that arise when attempting to make decisions based on inferences informed by spatial statistical decision making.

Jacqueline Vadjunec (Oklahoma State University) discusses the ethical dimensions of spatial analyses based on the data generated during citizen science projects, an ongoing need for mixed methods research, and implications of both for reproducibility.

For this presentation, Luis Alvarez Leon (Dartmouth College) and Mia Bennett (University of Hong Kong) joined forces to discuss the topics of ethical implications and property regimes of remote sensing.

Renee Siebler (McGill University) discusses the ethical implications of GeoAI and locational big data.

Participants of the workshop ask their questions of the workshop's presenters and the event's panelists during this Q&A session.