IBM Research

ECSCW 2005 Workshop on Location Awareness and Community


Call for Papers and Participation

ECSCW 2005 Workshop on Location Awareness and Community

Paris, France
September 18-19, 2005


Several real-world tracking and positioning technologies, such as GPS, 802.11, Bluetooth and RFID tags, have become mature enough to be widely adopted and employed in systems linking information and communication to geographic places and people. The challenge is to better understand what can be presented to users in a useful and unobtrusive way.

There are many examples of different approaches to this challenge. Key examples include systems that associate digital text to physical places (Pascoe, 1998; Marmasse and Schmandt, 2000; Burrell and Gay, 2001, Espinoza et. al., 2001) enabling users to leave others, or themselves, relevant notes, recommendations and reminders. Several systems leverage location for mobile tour guides (Long and Kooper, 1996; Smailagic and Martin, 1997) or to map users' activities or position (McCarthy and Meidal, 1999; Griswold et. al., 2003). Location is also used to enhance remote awareness of others and to infer availability for communication (Tang et. al., 2001; Marmasse et. al., 2004). A major challenge with location-based systems is how to automatically learn and identify a user's position. Low-level sensor data must be filtered and abstracted to a meaningful granularity (e.g., GPS coordinates to "heading to the gym", or wireless LAN signals to "room 636"). Work in this direction includes systems and algorithms by Schmidt et. al., 1998; Marmasse and Schmandt, 2000; Castro et. al., 2001; Ashbrook and Starner, 2002; Patterson et. al., 2003; Marmasse et al., 2004.

The People-to-People-to-Geographic-Places or P3-System Framework (Jones et. al., 2004) has been put forward to describe the major design techniques used by location aware community systems. The four major P3-System design techniques are: people-centered systems based on either absolute user location (e.g., ActiveBadge – Want et. al., 1992) or user proximity (e.g., Hocman – Esbj?rnsson et al., 2003) and place-centered systems based on either a representation of people’s use of physical spaces (e.g., ActiveMap – McCarthy and Meidal, 1999) or on a matching virtual space that enables online interaction linked to physical location (e.g., Geonotes – Espinoza et al., 2001). In addition, each feature can be instantiated synchronously or asynchronously. The framework suggests new ways of understanding and potentially addressing privacy concerns in the location aware community system, and outlines additional socio-technical challenges and opportunities, which we hope to explore in this workshop.

Goals and Objectives

Many challenges remain to effectively leverage location awareness to support community. These problems span the social and the technical fields—tensions between privacy control and awareness, from raw data to effectively processed meaningful inferences. Thus, there is a wide range of areas for fruitful discussion. These include, but are not limited to, the following areas.

  • Automatically learning and identifying a user's location in a meaningful way
  • Methods for labeling locations and sharing descriptions
  • Rich representation of locations; composed of geometric, social, and temporal properties
  • Place shape behaviour: how people describe places, whether their descriptions are relevant to others
  • How place types relate to people's desire for place-related awareness and communication with others
  • What information people are willing to share about themselves to enable place-related communication and awareness
  • Which lessons learned from online communities are applicable to non-virtual communities, particularly referring to identity and privacy
Interaction Techniques / User Interface Design:
  • Models to ensure people's privacy in presence enabled systems
  • UIs for managing complex privacy information and preferences, particularly on mobile devices
  • Designs and implementations of mobile location-aware community information systems
  • Scalable visualizations of people- and place-centered systems
  • Creative location-relevant content

Workshop Organization

This will be a one-day workshop. Rather than just presentations on the position papers, we would like it to be interactive. The accepted papers will be distributed to the participants in advance. We hope to involve participants in a pre-workshop activity that will help everyone think about common data from their own diverse perspectives.

During the day, we will have short, five-minute presentations for each participant to highlight the core ideas in their paper and how they relate to the workshop topic. The main part of the day will involve a design exercise, in mixed groups based on expertise. In this exercise, participants will work on different aspects of a specific scenario, revolving around our three main themes: Algorithmic, Conceptual, and Interaction Techniques/UI Design. The last part of the workshop will be dedicated to re-writing a "solution" for the scenario, using comments, observations, and technologies from all the participants.

If people are willing, participants could all go out to dinner the previous night in order to get to know each other before the workshop.

We expect about ten participants, but this could expand if more submissions are received.


Participants will be selected on the basis of position papers submitted prior to the workshop. Proposals should be no longer than six pages in the ECSCW conference format and can address any one of our three themes (Algorithmic, Conceptual, Interaction Techniques/UI Design) individually, or any combination of them. Papers should be clear regarding which elements are conceptual or theoretical and what has been implemented/verified. Where relevant, details should be given about the type of community (e.g., work, leisure), and important contextual factors and social interactions supported. Position papers should explain how the author’s work relates to the workshop theme. We are particularly interested in seeing perspectives at a variety of levels, ranging from meta views to micro-scale analyses.

Submissions should be sent to by June 20, 2005. Position papers will be reviewed by the workshop organizers and notification of acceptance will be given by the first week of July.

We encourage a wide range of participants from diverse backgrounds.

Important Dates

Deadline for paper submissions June 20, 2005
Notifications to authors First week of July, 2005
Deadline for early registration to ECSCW July 20, 2005
Camera-ready copy TBA
Date of the workshop September 18 or 19, 2005


TBD after July 20, 2005.


The proceedings will include accepted full papers. They will be distributed on-site to the workshop participants, and will also be available on-line (after the workshop) on this web page.

Organizers' Bios

Natalia Marmasse is a researcher in the Collaboration Technologies Group at IBM Research, Haifa Lab. She joined IBM after finishing her PhD at the MIT Media Lab. Natalia has spent the last few years designing and building context-aware information systems, including comMotion and WatchMe.

Vladimir (Vova) Soroka manages the Collaboration Technologies group of the IBM Haifa Research Lab. He holds a B.Sc. degree in Computer Sciences from the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology, and an M.A. degree in Social Sciences and Communication from Haifa University. His research interests include Internet applications, Web collaboration and presence awareness, and Internet as a mass medium. Mr. Soroka is co-author of journal and conference papers in the area of Computer Supported Collaborative Work.

Quentin (Gad) Jones is an Assistant Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he is the PI of a number of grants exploring location aware community systems including NSF-DST Collaborative: Mark This! - operationalizing the notion of ‘place’ for interactive community systems. He is also the Co-Director of NJIT’s new SmartCampus initiative where a variety of P3-Systems are being developed and deployed. Prior to his current position, Quentin was a researcher at AT&T Labs, New Jersey and a Ph.D. student at Haifa University and Hebrew University Israel.

Christine Halverson is a researcher in the Social Computing Group at IBM Research. She is involved in the development and analysis of systems to help work groups interact collaboratively over networks. Her analytic approaches have included visualizations, linguistic analysis, online participation, and observations among others. Her research group has designed and deployed a number of online systems including BABBLE & Loops.

Related Workshops

Brignull, H., Choudhury, T., Izadi, S., Kindratenko, V., Streitz, N., Morris, M., Pointer, D. (2004) 2nd International Workshop on Supporting Social Interaction & Face-to-Face Communication in Public Spaces, Ubicomp 2004.

Tullio, J., Begole, J., Horvitz, E. and Mynatt, E. (2004) Forecasting Presence and Availability. International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems ,CHI 2004.

Jones, Q., and Halverson C. (2003) The Role of Online Community Spaces in Shaping Virtual Community Interactions. International Conference on Communities and Technologies, September 2003, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Borovoy, R., Brignull, H., Izadi, S., Kindratenko, V., Lightman, A., Streitz, N. (2003) Supporting Social Interaction & Face-to-Face Communication in Public Spaces, Ubicomp 2003.

Jones, Q. and Halverson, C. (2002) The Role of Place in Shaping Virtual Community, CSCW 2002

Mark Billinghurst, M., Gellersen, H.W., Kortuem, G. (2002) Mobile Ad Hoc Collaboration, CHI 2002