K. Ola Ahlqvist, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Geography,

Director Service-Learning Initiative

Associate Director, CETI

1049B Derby Hall

154 N Oval Mall

Columbus, OH 43210

Ph. +1 614 247 7997


 Courses taught

SP13         _____   

GEOG607 Fundamentals of GIS


GEOG200 World Regional Geography

 Other courses       

ARTSSCI 138.02 Freshman Seminar "The Geospatial Revolution"

GEOG480 (syllabus)

GEOG580 Elements of Cartography - Service learning "Serving the Community with Cartography" (syllabus)

GEOG680 Computer mapping and visualization

GEOG880 Seminar in Cartography (syllabus)


From my GeoGames blog           



Directions Magazine         



Thanks for visiting. My main research interests revolve around semantic uncertainty, geographic data analysis, and geospatial cyber-infrastructures. Application areas are diverse including land cover change, landscape history, Web 2.0, mapping of drug abuse, and analysis of dance choreography. Also, make sure to check out my blog and the latest on GeoDesign..

Current projects

The "GeoGame" framework  Now with two-year NSF support from the Cyberlearning program to develop and study learning with GeoGames! Using a design-based research approach we will develop a new Esri-technology platform into an online map game learning tool and look at how learning happens within a GeoGames such as the 'Green revolution' scenario.

The main goal will be to better understand the opportunities and obstacles presented by GeoGames for learning with role-play games/simulations. Under this portal we will look at some more specific questions about how people learn with integrated online GIS and gaming technology, such as:
- what is a GeoGame? - key components and functionality that can help and guide others to develop similar technology
- what does a GeoGame provide in terms of authentic experiences, student engagement, and higher-order thinking?
- how does specific GeoGame affordances (access to rich geographic information, particular game mechanics, collaboration opportunities, etc) help/hinder learning?

Click here for a summary of the proposal and here for a video presentation of these ideas from GeoDesign 2010.


The NSF-funded project "Deciphering Civil Conflict in the Middle East"; studies cycles of repression and dissent in the context of economic dependencies, migration, and social networking. In this interdisciplinary project we work together with colleagues in the departments of Sociology and Economics. We focus on the 19 states of the Middle East and North Africa, or subsets of them, beginning with the 1990-91 Gulf War to the present. One focus area is Kurdish diaspora communities and their influence on conflict in the Kurdish region. Graduate students Hyeseon Jeong, Shaun Fontanella and Dr. Jason Vanhorn at Calvin College collaborate to develop conflict data at a high spatial resolution and methods to visualize transnational relationships in cyberspace.
 "Calculation"  - A geography game for the Microsoft Surface
 CS&E students Patrick Losco, Kyle Hiltner, Anderson Bell, and Kevin Fast built the application under the supervision of Dr. Igor Malikman in the CS&E 762, Web-Services-Based Distributed Systems Project capstone course. I was the 'sponsor' of the project and provided the idea to the application and functional requirements; it had to be interactive, map based, relate to geography and include real information about the map areas as well as live information such as weather to take into account for the game play. The OSU Digital Union provided support and access to the surface table, software development kits, and laptops for the development. 
 "Serving the Community with Cartography";;  Geography 580S, a new course offering, is an introduction to the art, craft and science of cartography and is run as a service learning course in which students engage in a community mapping collaboration with Ohio State's African American and African Studies Community Extension Center (AAAS) and other community organizations in the near east side of Columbus. Student activities focus on issues surrounding neighborhood regeneration through mapping of community assets, capabilities, and abilities. Click here for the Maps to Serve web pages.

Next offering Spring'11 quarter.  
Synchronous Objects collaboration with Department of Dance, Department of Statistics, and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design in which we look at how geographic theory and geovisualization can inform dance and choreography, and, maybe more interesting, how dance and choreography can inform research on geographic theory and geovisualization. Click here to explore the website.  
The Henry Hunker Tour - On November 3, 1956, Prof. Henry L. Hunker, professor of geography at The Ohio State University, led a group of professional geographers from around the country on a tour of "Urban-Industrial Columbus, Ohio." At the time, Prof. Hunker's own research and a set of his informal notes provided the narrative for the tour. He was to conduct many such tours in the years to come. Prof. Hunker passed away in 2009 but his legacy lives on, partly through this project in which his original tour narrative and updates have now been turned into a 'virtual tour' in an interactive mapping environment (Google Earth). Ola Ahlqvist, professor of geography, and undergraduate students from his Numerical Cartography class have created the first-of-its-kind virtual tour of professor Hunker's ground breaking research into the development of "Urban-Industrial Columbus, Ohio." This virtual tour includes prof. Hunker's original tour notes (in italics) and his updated commentary from 1999 (non italics) - -but with a twist. Students have included additional points of interest, images, sound, video clips and internet links, taking full advantage of the new interactive environment. We hope that you will enjoy this rich 50+ year perspective on Columbus.  

Work history

The Ohio State University, Geography department, U.S.A.

Penn State University, Geography department, GeoVISTA center, U.S.A.

Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, SWEDEN

Stockholm University, Central administration, Technical office

Jarfalla municipality, Park and Nature Department, Stockholm, SWEDEN

The Aland islands autonomous government and administrative board, FINLAND

My education

Post Doctoral training at Penn State University, U.S.A.

Ph.D. in Geography with emphasis on physical geography, Stockholm University, Sweden
B.Sc. in Biology and Earth Science, Stockholm University, Sweden

Sergeant, Radio Intelligence Analyst, Swedish Military Service

Some publications (send an email for reprints)

Ahlqvist, O. et al. (accepted) Geospatial human-environment simulation through integration of Massive Multiplayer Online Games and Geographic Information Systems, Transactions in GIS

Ahlqvist, O. (in press). Semantic issues in land cover studies – representation and analysis. In Remote Sensing of Land Use and Land Cover: Principles and Applications. Edited by Giri, C. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis. 25-36.

Ahlqvist, O. et al. (in press) Making journal articles ‘live’: turning academic writing into scientific dialog Geojournal. DOI: 10.1007/s10708-011-9431-9

Ahlqvist, O. 2011 Cartography at The Ohio State University. Cartography and Geographic Information Science. 38(3): 339-340.

Ahlqvist, O. 2011 Converging themes in cartography and computer games. Cartography and Geographic Information Science. 38(3): 278-285.

Ahlqvist, O.; Wastfelt, A.; Nielsen, M. 2011. Formalized interpretation of compound land use objects - Mapping historical summer farms from a single satellite image. Journal of Land Use Science. 7(1): 89-107. DOI: 10.1080/1747423X.2010.537787

Ahlqvist, O. 2011. On the (Limited) Difference between Feature and Geometric Semantic Similarity Models. In: Claramunt, C.; Levashkin, S. and Bertolotto, M. (Eds.): GeoS 2011, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 6631, pp. 124-132

Ahlqvist, O.; Ban, H.; Cressie, N.; Zuniga-Shaw, N., 2010, Statistical Counterpoint: Knowledge Discovery of Choreographic Information using Spatio-Temporal Analysis and Visualization. Applied Geography, 30: 548-560.

Ban, H. and Ahlqvist, O. 2010. User evaluation of a software interface for geovisualization and communication of uncertain urban ontologies. Journal of Information Technology in Construction. Vol. 15: 122-131. http://www.itcon.org/2010/9.

Ahlqvist, O., 2010, A common framework for visually reconciling geographic data semantics in geospatial data mapping portals, Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization. 45(2): 140-151

Ahlqvist, O. and Shortridge, A., 2010, Spatial and semantic dimensions of landscape heterogeneity, Landscape Ecology. 25: 573-590. doi: 10.1007/s10980-009-9435-8.

Ban, H., & Ahlqvist, O., 2009, Representing and negotiating uncertain geospatial concepts - Where are the urban areas?, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 33: 233-246. doi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2008.10.001

Ahlqvist, O., 2008, Extending post classification change detection using semantic similarity metrics to overcome class heterogeneity: a study of 1992 and 2001 National land Cover Database changes, Remote Sensing of Environment 112(3): 1226-1241

Ahlqvist, O., 2008, In search for classification that support the dynamics of science - The FAO Land Cover Classification System and proposed modifications, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 35(1): 169-186.

Ahlqvist, O. and Ban, H., 2007, Semantic spaces - a new second space for geographic analysis, Geography Compass, 1(3): 536-555.

Ahlqvist, O. and Shortridge, A., 2006, Characterizing Land Cover Structure with Semantic Variograms, Progress in Spatial Data Handling -12th International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling, Riedl, A., Kainz, W., and Elmes, G.A. (Eds.), Springer-Verlag, pp.401-415.

Ahlqvist, O., 2005, Using uncertain conceptual spaces to translate between land cover categories, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 19(7): 831-857

Ahlqvist, O and Gahegan, M., 2005, Probing the relationship between classification error and class similarity, Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, Vol.71, No.12, pp.1365-1373.

Ahlqvist, O., 2005, Using semantic similarity metrics to uncover category and land cover change, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 3799, pp.107-119.

Ahlqvist, O., 2005, Transformation of Geographic Information Using Crisp, Fuzzy And Rough Semantics, in: Fisher, P.F. and Unwin, D. (Eds.), Re-Presenting GIS, Wiley, pp.99-112.

Ahlqvist, O., 2004, A parameterized representation of uncertain conceptual spaces, Transactions in GIS, 8(4), 493-514.

more publications...

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