It is increasingly apparent to many within academia and beyond that spatial thinking, technologies, systems, and services matter. Building on a rich history of research, scholarship, and teaching related to spatial topics, the University of Minnesota has embarked on a visionary endeavor to develop a collaborative consortium that supports the spatial sciences and creative activities.
U-Spatial provides support for spatial research. Specifically, U-Spatial helps eliminate duplication and fragmentation of scientific resources, and provides a framework of data, equipment, expertise, and resources that benefits all researchers working with spatial related sciences and creative activities. The need for infrastructure support for the spatial sciences and creative activities has been apparent for some years, but the opportunity to build a broad-based infrastructure across traditional disciplinary and college boundaries has come much more recently.
It provides support via four Cores:
- Central Core services include technical assistance, training, resource coordination, and development of the spatial science community
- Imaging Core infrastructure focuses on data and analysis of aerial and satellite imagery of the earth
- Data Core services include data archiving and discovery and development of shared computing infrastructure
- Analysis Core infrastructure centers on spatiotemporal modeling, geodesign, and mapping
U-Spatial is comprised of staff and faculty in many units:
- College of Design
- College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
- College of Liberal Arts
- College of Science and Engineering
- Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
- Enterprise GIS
- Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
- Institute on the Environment
- Minnesota Population Center
- Office of Information Technology
- School of Public Health
- University of Minnesota Extension Service
- University of Minnesota Libraries
U-Spatial is funded by $2.5 million over 2012-2017, two-thirds of which is from the OVPR Infrastructure Investment Initiative and one-third is contributed by the units noted above. U-Spatial coordinates modest yet critical infrastructure improvements to enhance the U of M's national and international leadership position in spatial science. U-Spatial advances the central mission of a 21st century land-grant research institution because it enables new modes of inquiry that are crucial to addressing complex problems and opportunities.