Spatial Research at the University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota became one of the world’s first “spatial universities” at a time when public and private sector interest in spatial thinking and approaches was starting to increase exponentially.

At the heart of the University's spatial capabilities is U-Spatial, which serves and drives a fast-growing need for expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and spatial computing. U-Spatial is nationally recognized as a leading model for how universities can successfully integrate spatial data, visualization, analysis, and spatial thinking.

On July 9, U of M spatial research experts presented in a plenary session at the 2018 Esri User Conference, an international gathering of mapping and GIS experts.

Research Highlights

Spatial Science in Geography, Environment, and Society

Interest in spatial thinking and approaches is fast increasing, with billions now using spatial technologies such as Google Maps, GPS, and satellite remote sensing to discover the world. Spatial Science has long played an integral role in advancing this science, growing our understanding of people, places, and processes through the lenses of location, space, scale, and distance.

Mapping Prejudice

Racial restrictions in property deeds, called racial covenants, were used in most US cities before 1968 to prevent nonwhite people from buying or occupying property in some areas. This project is creating the first-ever comprehensive map of these previously invisible discriminatory deeds. By plotting racial covenance in Minneapolis and the rest of Hennepin County, Mapping Prejudice is transforming our collective understanding of race, segregation, and real estate.

Polar Geospatial Center

The Polar Geospatial Center, supported by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, solves geospatial problems at both poles by working with researchers on mapping and remote sensing projects in Earth’s most remote locations. The center provides geospatial, mapping, and remote sensing support to researchers and logistics groups, helping them complete their research safely and efficiently.

Research Centers

The Geospatial Analysis Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth provides support and expertise for geographic information systems (GIS) and serves as a resource on advancements in remote sensing, geographic data analysis, and global positioning systems. The center partners with state agencies, counties, and regional organizations to design projects, identify system and data needs, acquire data, and oversee projects.

The Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory advances the development and application of remote sensing and geospatial analysis for the purpose of inventorying and monitoring natural resources and the environment. The lab conducts most of its research and outreach in cooperation with public agencies in Minnesota.


The Minnesota Design Center uses design thinking to address systemic issues, helping communities and organizations realize opportunities in their built and natural environments to stimulate economic prosperity, encourage social vitality, and enhance human health and well-being. The center seeks innovative solutions that take advantage of the social, technological, environmental, and economic disruptions of our time.

Advancing Spatial Science and the

Workforce of Tomorrow

U of M at the 2018 Esri User Conference

Partner with Us

Interested in collaborating with the U of M for your spatial data needs?

Contact Len Kne at lenkne@umn.edu.

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