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IGU Commission C16.13

Geography of Information, Innovation and Technology


The Commission provides an international forum for the study of geographical aspects of information and its social context. Among the interests of the Commission are the spatial dimensions of the Internet and cyberspace, the nature of mobility, information technologies and their impact on social relations and community, and the policy issues associated with information society.

History and evolution

More than 30 years of scientific activities

The Commission builds on the strong foundations of prior commissions including the Commission on Telecommunications and Communication with its focus on technology and communications, and the successor Commission on the Geography of Information Society with focus on the intersection between information technology and the emerging knowledge economy. The commission has been renovated for the years 2016–2020. It changed its name from the “Commission of Global Information Society” to “Commission on the Geography of Information, Innovation and Technology” indicating the joint research interests among technology and communications geographers with researchers doing innovation and technology studies. The Commission continues a thirty tree years tradition of active research and engagement across six continents, and advances geographic scholarship around several core spatial and social phenomena.

Successives Chairs

  • Christian VERLAQUE (France) - Geography of communication and telecommunication (CO4 - 1984/1992)

  • Henry BAKIS (France) - Geography of the telecommunication (CO4 - 1992/2000)

  • Aharon KELLERMAN (Israel) - Geography of Information Society (C10 - 2000/2008)

  • Mark WILSON (USA) - Geography of Global Information Society (C08.14 - 2008/2016)

  • Tommi INKINEN (Finland) - Geography of Information, Innovation and Technology (C16.13 - 2016/2020)

Netcom Journal

NETCOM is the official Journal of the IGU Commission on the Geography of Information, Innovation and Technology. Since its fondation by Henry Bakis in 1987, NETCOM takes an interdisciplinary perspective on networks, communications, and space. For paper proposals : Calls for papers :, Journal submission form :

Commission board 2016-2020

Steering committee 2016-2020

  • Stefano di Vita (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)

  • Andreas Koch (University of Salzburg, Austria)

  • Aharon Kellerman (University of Haifa, Israel)

  • Emmanouil Tranos (University of Birmingham, UK)

  • Tan Yigitcanlar (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

  • Mark Wilson (Michigan State University, USA)

Next meetings

The Commission holds meetings in conjunction with IGU events and also holds its own conferences. The Commission also sponsors events through its members and academic societies.

Upcoming events and conferences include:

The 34th International Geographical Congress (IGC) will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 17-21, 2020.

The theme is Geography: Bridging the Continents which Geography also has meaning of evaluation, interpretation, awareness and analysis. The fact that Istanbul is located at the junction of the continents constitutes the most important point of this great meaning. Parallel to the quadrennial meeting of the IGU commissions and the task forces, six key topics, derived from the conference theme, have been established, Globalization vs Localization, Climate Change, Migration and Conflicts, Earth and Disasters, Eurasia and Middle East Studies, Anthropocene.

1) Information, innovation and communication geographies


Description: This session focuses on geographical analyses of innovation, communication and technology. It aims at providing openings and studies on 1) geographical technologies and innovation systems, 2) knowledge based growth and 3) the policy analyses. Geographical concepts are widely used in the analyses and debates surrounding innovation and spatial knowledge resources. Knowledge creation and innovation systems show that knowledge transfer processes and innovation system practices are spatially interlinked. Local action can be regionally, nationally or internationally motivated. In these debates, national and regional categories are the most employed. In order to cope with the dynamics of spatial development and growth, it is important to have both a theoretical and empirical understanding of the spatial processes. To conclude, we welcome both theoretical and empirical studies on innovation systems and technology transfer focusing on economy and spatial development.

2) Smart development and growth in cities and regions

CHAIR : Philippe VIDAL

Description: This session combines various forms of spatial analysis focusing on smart development of cities and regions. The session welcomed papers and analyses considering urban and regional dimensions of knowledge-based growth and development. For example, localized projects and efforts focusing on renovating and creating physical spaces and architectures may be integrated to the goals of smart cities and technologies such as IoT. The integration of spatial characteristics into analyses of knowledge intensiveness of cities brings forth new theoretical openings for this session. The session welcomes both theoretical and empirical works focusing on these topics.

3) Geographies of technological mobilities


Description: This session invites papers focusing on smart mobility, new mobile services and their societal/geographical implications. The papers may address the provision and condition of these services including MaaS (Mobility-as-a-Service) and other transit and transport changing technologies. The session aims to provide insights and interlinks between human-centric technological development, mobility, communication taking place in different national, regional and urban contexts. The session welcomes research considering environment and sustainability effects and changes resulting from smart solutions for mobility. Contextualised case-studies are also welcome from different parts of the world.

Previous meetings

2018 International Geographical Union Regional Conference to be held in Canada from August 6 to 10 2018

Session proposals for the Commission on Geography of Information, Innovation and Technology (C16.13 - 2016/2020) (Chair: Tommi Inkinen)

IGU- Appreciating difference - August 6th -10th 2018, Québec City, Canada:

Session 1: Cities, images and technologies

CHAIR: Tommi Inkinen

The focus of this session is to present studies, comparisons and other analyses of ICT, Geography and Innovation. Particular focus may be targeted also to urban events. The presentations may analyses and considers the implications of these issues in a synthesizing manner. Relationships may be drawn between the material and immaterial urban development including physical environments and places, the role of innovation, technology, creativity and life-quality in the cities. They may also consider urban (economic) profiles related to technologies and innovation. These elements contribute to a complex process of an urban image creation. As an example, several cities have actively promoted environmentally sound, innovative and creative dimensions in their marketing and image creation (Smart city). Therefore, both theoretical and empirical studies on cities and technologies are most welcome.

Session 1 : Villes, images et technologies

PRESIDENT: Tommi Inkinen

L’objectif de cette session est de présenter des études, des comparaisons et autres analyses croisant la géographie de l’innovation et l’imagerie urbaine. Les études théoriques et empiriques sont les bienvenues de même qu’une approche plus synthétique permettant la mise au clair des différentes stratégies d’image en lien avec le numérique. Il s’agit d’interroger notamment la façon dont les environnements urbains s’appuient sur l’innovation numérique pour en augmenter le potentiel créatif ou encore pour promouvoir la qualité de vie des lieux en question et créer une image de ville particulièrement positive. Ainsi, plusieurs villes s’inscrivent dans une démarche de mise en valeur de leurs dimensions éco-responsables, innovantes et créatives, souvent en lien avec la question parfois très « marketée » de la ville intelligente.

Session 2: Regional growth and the knowledge economy

CHAIR: Tommi Inkinen

This session focuses on geographical analyses of innovation, economy and technology. It aims at providing openings and studies on 1) regional innovation systems, 2) solutions to promote knowledge based growth and 3) the role of spatial scales in the policy guidance of these issues. Geographical concepts are widely used in the analyses and debates surrounding innovation and spatial knowledge resources. Knowledge creation and innovation systems shows that knowledge transfer processes and innovation system practices are spatially interlinked. Local action can be regionally, nationally or internationally motivated. In these debates, national and regional categories are the most employed. In order to cope with the dynamics of regional development and growth, it is important to have both a theoretical and empirical understanding of the spatial processes. To conclude, the session welcomes both theoretical and empirical studies on innovation systems and technology transfer focusing on economy and regional development.

Session 2 : Croissance régionale et économie de la connaissance

PRESIDENT: Tommi Inkinen

Cette session se concentre sur les analyses géographiques de l’innovation, de l’économie et de la technologie, principalement dans un contexte de croissance régionale. Elle vise à regrouper des travaux sur 1) les systèmes d’innovation régionaux, 2) les solutions pour promouvoir la croissance basée sur la connaissance et 3) le rôle des échelles spatiales dans l’orientation politique de ces questions. Nous nous intéresserons à la façon l’économie de la connaissance s’incarne actuellement dans les territoires, en particulier au niveau régional. L’objectif de la session est donc d’accueillir à la fois des études théoriques et empiriques sur les systèmes d’innovation et le transfert de technologies axées sur l’économie et le développement régional.

Session 3: Territorial public services in digital times

CHAIR: Tommi Inkinen

This session focuses on the policy guidance of public sector electronic services. There are several aspects to be considered: technology, service supply and demand, and spatial impact scale. These segments are elemental parts of service development processes. Analyses may concern, for example, telecommunications, citizen readiness, education and research, working life, public sector electronic services, social and health care, and electronic commerce. The session presentations should deal with different types of policy options for technology and ICT. This is important as majority of service development concerns applications and software to be applied by the citizens. However, physical infrastructure development is also extensively present in the urban policies. Public sector organizations produce services also themselves and, therefore, Public-private partnerships are worthy targets of investigation. Technology and science policies targeted to different spatial scales are warmly welcomed.

Session 3 : Les services publics territoriaux à l’heure du numérique

PRESIDENT: Tommi Inkinen

Cette session se consacre à la question des services publics à l’heure du numérique. Plusieurs dimensions peuvent être envisagées d’un point de vue géographique : la question technique, le point de vue de l’offre de services en provenance du secteur public, celui de la demande usagère, et enfin, les conséquences territoriales des appropriations. De même, peut s’envisager dans cette session la capacité du public à préparer aux usages administratifs ou citoyens, les propositions spécifiques dans le domaine de la santé, des services sociaux ou encore du e-commerce... Les présentations attendues peuvent porter sur des choix de politiques publiques particulièrement innovantes, sur les difficultés d’appropriation par les administrés ou éventuellement d’adéquation entre la qualité des services distants et celle des infrastructures télécoms déployées sur le territoire. De même, les analyses sur les tendances actuelles au partenariat public/privés dans le domaine des e-services de proximité sont attendues.

Session 4: Geography of innovation and local heritage

CHAIR: Philippe Vidal

This session questions the way in which digital object fit into the problem of enhancing local heritage. The point is to consider the various digital practices which enable users to establish new interactions with local heritage. All types of heritage may be included: natural, buildings, historic, religious, certified, everyday objects and customs... The analysis can also be applied to proposals from public institutions or private organizations that develop innovative approaches in connection with local heritage. Do these new offers contribute to the emergence of new heritage dimensions in a given territory? To what extent do they enhance new ways of appropriating heritage, particularly by new publics who usually display little motivation for heritage and cultural activities?

Session 4 : Géographie de l’innovation et patrimoine local

PRESIDENT: Philippe Vidal

Cette session interroge la façon dont l’objet numérique s’insère dans les problématiques de mise en valeur du patrimoine local. Il s’agit de considérer les pratiques numériques permettant aux usagers d’établir de nouvelles relations avec le patrimoine local. Tous les types de patrimoines peuvent être envisagés : naturel, bâti, historique, religieux, labellisé, vernaculaire… Les analyses peuvent aussi porter sur les propositions en provenance des institutions publiques ou des organisations privées qui développeraient des démarches innovantes en lien avec le patrimoine local. Ces offres nouvelles contribuent-elles à une nouvelle mise en patrimoine des territoires ? Dans quelle mesure permettent-elles de nouvelles appropriations patrimoniales, notamment en direction de nouveaux publics a priori peu habitués ou motivés par ce type d’activités ?

Session 5: Autonomous vehicles: do we know where we are going?

CHAIR: Stefano Di Vita and Mark Wilson

Autonomous technologies have the power to transform the daily life of billions of people, yet the current focus is far more on the technology than the social and spatial impact. Often absent in the initial development of new technology is an understanding of the social and spatial context: that is, the awareness and preparedness of the communities, as well as the planning and design of the spaces and infrastructures into which new technologies are to be introduced.

Autonomous vehicles include automobiles, trucks, drones, and ships that are driverless or self-driving. Autonomous transport employs many different technologies for steering, navigation, collision avoidance, and maneuvering that have been entering use over the past decades and will culminate in fully autonomous systems in the next few years.

The application of autonomous systems to transportation will change the organization, form and costs of mobility, and in so doing, affect both the lives of many people, and the quality and form of spaces and infrastructures. Social and spatial impacts of such scale demand rigorous and extensive scholarly attention, both to understand the nature of change, as well as to inform decision making processes through a trans-scalar approach, in order to deal with local and global networks and phenomena which are connected by this issue.

Among the questions to be addressed by the session are:

What are the new geographies created by autonomous vehicles and related infrastructure?

How do new technologies contribute to the innovation of urban policies, plans and projects?

How will autonomous vehicles affect worldwide urban phenomena and dynamics?

This session will explore the social and spatial dimension of autonomous vehicles and welcomes theoretical and empirical presentations dealing with people, space, place and autonomous technologies, together with the policies, plans and projects they demand.

Session 5: Les véhicules autonomes: savons-nous où nous allons ?

PRESIDENTS: Stefano Di Vita and Mark Wilson

Les technologies ont le pouvoir de transformer la vie quotidienne de milliards de personnes sur terre. Pourtant les analyses orientées sur les impacts socio-spatiaux restent modestes au regard de l’hyper focalisation de la recherche autour de la technique et ses évolutions. Trop souvent, la technique est pensée indépendamment des contextes sociaux et spatiaux dans lesquels elle est amenée à s’insérer. Les futurs usagers ne sont pas toujours sensibilisés à cette introduction, de même que les espaces urbains ne sont pas toujours prêts, structurellement, à recevoir les innovations.

Les véhicules autonomes peuvent regrouper de très nombreux moyens de transport : les voitures, les camions, les drones, les navires, etc. de même que de très nombreuses technologies sont mobilisées pour l'évitement des collisions et l'assistance à la conduite de ces véhicules. Ces technologies progressent rapidement et devraient aboutir dans les prochaines années à des systèmes de mobilité entièrement autonomes.

La généralisation des systèmes autonomes modifiera l'organisation et les conditions de la mobilité et, ce faisant, affectera la vie des populations et infléchira substantiellement le déploiement des infrastructures de réseaux dans l’espace. Pour cette raison, il importe d’envisager les impacts sociaux et spatiaux à venir, à la fois pour comprendre la nature du changement, et pour aider les décideurs et les aménageurs à mieux anticiper ce problème.

Parmi les questions à aborder :

Quelles sont les nouvelles géographies créées par les véhicules autonomes et les infrastructures connexes?

Comment les nouvelles technologies et leurs futures conséquences territoriales contribuent-elles à réviser la planification urbaine ?

Dans quelles mesures les véhicules autonomes auront une influence sur l’évolution des dynamiques urbaines mondiales ?

Cette session accueillera des présentations aussi bien théoriques qu’empiriques.


For information about the Commission, its events, and to be included on its mailing list, please contact Commission Chair, Tommi Inkinen, by e-mail :

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