My PhD thesis has been selected as one of the most important, relevant, and high-impact PhD work of 2017 (Brazil) at the Thesis and Dissertation Award (31o CTD) of the Brazilian Computing Society (SBC). Below you can find more information about my work and the thesis file is available on this link.
Title: An approach for improving decision-making with heterogeneous geospatial big data: an application using spatial decision support systems and volunteered geographic information to disaster management
University: Institute of Mathematics and Computing Science (ICMC), University of São Paulo (USP).
Abstract: Context: Accurate decision-making requires updated and precise information to establish the reality of an overall situation. New data sources (e.g., wearable technologies) have been increasing the amount of available and useful data, which is now called big data. This has a great potential for transforming the entire business process and improving the accuracy of decisions. In this context, disaster management represents an interesting scenario that relies on big data to enhance decision-making. This is because it must cope with data provided not only by traditional sources (e.g., stationary sensors) but also by emerging sources – for instance, information shared by local volunteers, i.e., volunteered geographic information (VGI). When combined, these data sources can be regarded as large in volume, with different velocities, and a variety of formats. Furthermore, an analysis is required to confirm their veracity is required since these data sources are disconnected and prone to various errors. These are the 4Vs that characterize big data. Gap: However, although all these data open up further opportunities, their huge volume, together with an inappropriate data integration and unsuitable visualization, can result in information being overlooked by decision-makers. This problem arises because the integration of the available data is hampered by the intrinsic heterogeneity of their features (e.g., their occurrence in different formats). When integrated, this information also often fails to reach the decision-makers in a suitable way (e.g., in appropriate visualization formats). Moreover, there is not a clear understanding of the decision-makers needs or how the available data can meet these needs. Objective: In light of this, this thesis presents an approach for improving decision-making with heterogeneous geospatial big data based on spatial decision support systems and volunteered geographic information in disaster management. Methods: Systematic mapping studies were conducted to identify gaps in research studies with regard to the use of volunteered information and spatial decision support systems in disaster management. On the basis of these studies, two design science projects were carried out. The first of these aimed at defining the elements that are essential for ensuring the integration of heterogeneous data, whereas the second project aimed at obtaining a better understanding of decision-makers needs. A cross-organizational action research project was also conducted to define the design principles that should be observed for a spatial decision support system to effectively support decision-making with heterogeneous geospatial big data. A series of empirical case studies was undertaken to evaluate the outcomes of these projects. Results: The overall approach thus consists of the three significant outcomes that were derived from these projects. The first outcome was the conceptual architecture that defines the integration of heterogeneous data sources. The second outcome was a model-based framework that describes the connection of decision-making with appropriate data sources. The third outcome is based on the framework and comprises a set of design principles for guiding the development of spatial decision support systems for decision-making with heterogeneous geospatial big data. Conclusion: This thesis has made a useful contribution to both practice and research. In short, it defines ways of integrating heterogeneous data sources, provides a better understanding of decision-makers needs, and supports the development of a spatial decision support system to effectively assist decision-making with heterogeneous geospatial big data.