University of Maryland

Geo-Local Informatics

Our everyday lives tend to be very much local. Although we live in a global world and traveling around the globe is easier than ever before, our daily lives mostly spin around our towns, cities, and the local areas. We come and go around town for various purposes such as going to school, shopping groceries, riding bikes, taking a walk, attending events, meeting friends, and so on.

Sometimes, however, or to some people rather frequently, we do move around the world, visiting many different countries and experiencing differences in the local area. Or some people may relocate to another country for a long period of time and try to adjust to the area for their living in the whole new environment.

The goal of the Geo-Local Informatics project is to understand ways that people interact with the geo-spatial area around them–no matter whether it is totally a new area or a familiar area–using emerging information technologies, such as smartphone map apps and location-based systems, so that the improved understanding of the phenomena can be used to expand the possibilities of designing better geo-local information systems to benefit local and global communities.


  • Brian Butler (, Professor and Senior Associate Dean, iSchool, University of Maryland
  • Chi Young Oh (, PhD Student, iSchool, University of Maryland
  • Myeong Lee (, PhD Student, iSchool, University of Maryland

Projects and Publications

  • Lee, M. (2016). On Information Deserts: A Research Agenda for Local Community Information Landscapes (Working Paper No. 1). Retrieved from CASCI website:
  • Lee, M., Santos, L., Zhao, W., Lakhole, P., & Butler, B. S. (2015). What Makes a Place More Familiar?: Implications of Geospatial Information Format and Content. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’15). April 18-23. Seoul, Korea.
  • Oh, C., Butler, B. S., & Lee, M. (2014). Information Behavior of International Students Settling in an Unfamiliar Geo-spatial Environment. In Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST ‘14). 51(1). 1-11. October 31-November 5. Seattle, U.S.
  • Lee, M. & Butler, B. S. (2014). “I know where that is”: Cultural Differences in Perception of New Places. Poster Presented in iConference 2014 Proceedings. March 4-7. Berlin, Germany.


  • Journal of Community Informatics
  • Urban Informatics
  • Cyclopath
  • Gurstein, M. (2007). What is community informatics (and why does it matter)?(Vol. 2). Polimetrica sas.
  • de Moor, A. (2009). Moving community informatics research forward. The Journal of Community Informatics5(1).
  • Walker, J. (2011). Representing Social Space: Cognitive Mapping and the Potential for Progressive Urban Planning & Design. Trail Six: An Undergraduate Journal of Geography5(1).
  • Hellström, T. (2008). Cognitive mapping of public space: Causal assumptions and core values among Nordic city planners. European Journal of Spatial Development, (32).
  • Sorrows, M. E., & Hirtle, S. C. (1999). The nature of landmarks for real and electronic spaces. In Spatial information theory. Cognitive and computational foundations of geographic information science (pp. 37-50). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.