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Professor Christopher Jones

Professor of Geographic Information Systems

School of Computer Science and Informatics

I am Professor Geographical Information Systems in the Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics with a particular interest in geographical information retrieval (GIR). My current interests in GIR focus on

  • modelling the use of vague spatial relational terminology such as ‘near’, ‘at’, and ‘next to’, in order to enable automated interpretation and generation of natural language descriptions of location;
  • retrieval of environmental information from social media such as Twitter and Flickr, including observations of particular species of wildlife.

Other current and recent research relates to the use of computer vision methods for identifying features of buildings to support the creation of rich 3D models that are annotated with their architectural features.

I have been co-chair of the workshop on Geographic Information Retrieval since its inception in 2004. I am also co-chair of the workshop Speaking of Location.

I was involved in some of the early initiatives in GIR including leading the EU SPIRIT project on the design of spatially-aware search engines and the development of novel methods for spatio-textual document indexing, place name ontologies (gazetteers) and modelling vague place names with evidence from the web. 

Several projects that I have worked on have been in collaboration with the Ordnance Survey. One of these projects in the area of label placement in cartography led to the development, initially at the University of South Wales with Tony Cooke  and John McBride, of the Maplex label placement engine that is a module in the ESRI ArcGIS product. Another project led to the development with Florian Twaroch of the web site to acquire knowledge of the use of vernacular place names.

I have also worked on and retain interest in various aspects of computer cartography, particularly map generalisation, multi-scale spatial databases, and three-dimensional modelling the geoscientific data.


1977 : PhD University of Newcastle upon Tyne  (Department of Geophysics and Planetary Physics); Topic: Analysis of chemical, physical and optical periodicities in growth rings of Precambrian stromatolites.

1972 : BSc Geology, University of Bristol

Previous posts

1994-2000 : Professor of Geographical Information Systems, University of  South Wales.

1993-1994 : Lecturer in Geographical Information Systems,  Course Director of MPhil in GIS and Remote Sensing,  Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. Fellow and Director of Studies for Geography, Fitzwilliam College.

1983-1992 : Reader (from 1990), previously Principal Lecturer (from 1985)  in computer graphics, University of South Waales

1981-1983 : Earth  Scientist (Computing), BP Exploration, London

1976-1981 : Analyst/Programmer, British Geological Survey,  Edinburgh and Nottingham





















My main research interests are in geographical information systems (GIS), computer cartography and the retrieval of geographically-specific information on the web. For several years I have worked on the representation of map features at multiple levels of detail, resulting in the development of multi-scale spatial databases and of techniques for automated map generalisation. Research on geographically-aware web search engines has been concerned with spatial indexing of web documents and images and with designing ontologies that represent knowledge about the terminology and form of geographical places. I have also worked on environmental change detection, map labelling, data integration and 3D modelling of terrain and of fossils.