Geoinformatics studies cartography, Geoinformation systems (GIS), geocoding and basic and applied research of location based services.


  • Professor Rusanen Jarmo
  • Post Doc Researcher Harri Antikainen
  • Project manager Ossi Kotavaara
  • Post Doc Researcher Tiina Lankila
  • Doctoral student Tiina Huotari

Research projects:

Physical accessibility of sports facilities (LIISA)

The objective of the project is to examine the level and accessibility of sports services. The project is a part of evaluation of basic public services coordinated by the Northern Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency. Responsible for the execution of evaluations is Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment together with the Ministry of Education and Culture. The target for evaluations for the year 2013 is the physical accessibility of sports facilities. The project examines how municipality’s sports facilities are placed in relation to the location of the population. Second objective is to observe if the amount of municipal basic sports facilities is sufficient in relation to the amount of population.

Contact persons: Virpi Keränen, Ossi Kotavaara, Harri Antikainen, Jarmo Rusanen

The Influence of Air Pollution, Pollen, and Ambient Temperature on Asthma and Allergies in Changing Climate (APTA)

The aim of the research project is to assess both short-term and long-term health effects of air pollution, allergenic pollen and extreme climatic factors on asthma, allergies and mortality in two population-based studies (Espoo Cohort Study and Finnish Environment and Asthma Study).

The project is carried out as a collaboration between the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and the Department of Geography of the University of Oulu. Innovative and complementary research methodologies are used in the project, including new modeling approaches for air pollution and pollen, statistical environmental and information technologies, geoinformatics, genetics, clinical medicine and epidemiology.

Information produced by this consortium project will be useful for health care, community planning and the development of warning systems. The database on environmental health supports preparedness systems and decision-making in health care policy. The project is funded by Academy of Finland.

Contact persons: Jan Hjort, Jarmo Rusanen and Harri Antikainen

Dynamics of regional structure

Dynamics of regional structure is nearly 20 years old umbrella research programme aiming to analyze different aspects of Finnish regional structures and different phenomenon of human actions on all regional levels. The research has been financed from several external sources. Contact persons: Jarmo Rusanen and Toivo Muilu

GIS-based terrain path optimization

The project is part of environmental informatics with strong emphasis on methodological development. The project seeks to investigate and implement methods for the determination of optimal movement paths in the cross-country terrain context by utilizing GIS-based terrain data. Several methods have already been developed and evaluated in the project, and they have been applied to planning of optimal forest inventory tours. Other prospective applications include nature tourism and location-based services (LBS). The project has received funding from the KIRSU graduate school and it has been carried out in co-operation with the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla). Contact persons: Harri Antikainen and Jarmo Rusanen

Regional Distribution of the University graduates in Finland

The goal of the research is to find out how the Finnish university graduates are distributed regionally. A large amount of human capital spreads around with these people affecting regional development and that is why it is important to understand these flows better. Data used in the research covers university graduates of 1990-1994 (their location 1994 and 2004) and graduates of 2000-2004 (their location 2004). Research in funded by the Ministry of Education and report will be completed in the spring 2008. Contact person: Jarmo Rusanen

Transport Accessibility at Regional/Local Scale and Patterns in Europe (2010-2012) (TRACC)

TRACC project pages. The ESPON project TRACC aims at taking up and updating the results of existing studies on accessibility at the European scale, to extend the range of accessibility indicators by further indicators responding to new policy questions, to extend the spatial resolution of accessibility indicators and to explore the likely impacts of policies at the European and national scale to improve global, European and regional accessibility in the light of new challenges, such as globalisation, energy scarcity and climate change. The project of seven partners and six EU countries is led by Spiekermann & Wegener Urban and Regional Research (S&W). Contact persons: Ossi Kotavaara, Jarmo Rusanen and Harri Antikainen

Regional well-being and health

Research is carried out in co-operation with Institute of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine. Study material is Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. The aim is to study regional well-being and health using georeferenced grid data, GIS-methods and statistical methods. Georeferenced 1 km x 1 km grid data can be classified to different residential environments by using population density produced by Statistics Finland. Health and well-being can be studied in these one square kilometre grid areas. Larger administrative areas e.g. municipalities can be used, as well. Interesting themes are health and well-being in rural-urban continuum in one square kilometre grids and association of migration and periphericy to health and well-being.  Research is funded by Academy of Finland, Responding to Public Health Challenges Research Programme (SALVE). Contact persons:Tiina Lankila and Jarmo Rusanen

Accessibility of large retail units and traffic emissions in Oulu region, Finland

Accessibility is very often viewed as saving time or other costs, but with the location planning traffic emissions might as well be minimized. In this ERDF-project CO2 emissions related to the accessibility of large retail stores is evaluated with GIS tools. Using and developing existing tools, aim is to develop a method with which location of retail stores can be compared. Comparable CO2 values based on the distribution of population and workplaces will be calculated. Instead of Euclidean distance the real road network is used. Aim is to show the optimal location in Oulu region where carbon dioxide emissions resulting from shopping trips could be as low as possible. Contact persons: Heidi Määttä-Juntunen and Jarmo Rusanen

Regional typology

Regional typology project pages. The project is leaded by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The aim of the project is seek to define new regional typology to Finland. Previous typologies are enhanced with grid data based approaches. Contact persons for accessibility analysis: Ossi Kotavaara, Jarmo Rusanen and Harri Antilainen contact person for rural research Toivo Muilu.


Closed Projects with wider international interest:

Finnish Railways in the Nordic and Russian context (FiRa)

The aim of FiRA was to explore the effects of railway transports on population change. The study analysed the theme at different scales in Finland between 1880−2009. The analytical framework of the study was founded on geographic information systems (GIS), geographical information science (GIScience) and in the innovative applying and development of accessibility analyses in GIS environment. The geospatial analytical ensemble of the study consists of applying GIS in accessibility analysis, data management variable constriction and using non-linear multiple regression model in explaining population change. Theoretical interests of the project can be positioned to the interface of transport and economic geography and regional science. Particular attention is given to scale issues and predictive performance of models whereas New Economic Geography is the theoretical back bone. Exploring the potential relationships between accessibility and population change at different scales is possible due to the availability of GIS data of Finnish transport networks and the population having high spatial accuracy and also a long historical reach.

FiRa was a part of a collaborative research project “The European Road and Rail Infrastructure: A Geographical Information System for the History of the European Integration (1825–2005)”, which was organised within European Science Foundation’s (ESF) EUROCORES Programme Inventing Europe, Technology and the Making of Europe, 1850 to the Present. FiRa was funded by Academy of Finland.

The principal investigator of the project was Ossi Kotavaara, Jarmo Rusanen was the project leader and Harri Antikainen worked as a senior GIS analyst and supervisor. Ari Nikula and Johanna Hätälä worked as research assistants in constructing databases.

Selected publications:

  • Kotavaara, O. (2012). Accessibility, population change and scale dependency: Exploring geospatial patterns in Finland, 1880–2009. (Doctoral dissertation) Nordia Geographical Publications 41: 4.
  • Kotavaara, O., Antikainen, H., Marmion, M. & Rusanen, J. (2012). Scale in the effect of accessibility on population change: GIS and a statistical approach to road, air and rail accessibility in Finland, 1990–2008. The Geographical Journal 178: 4, 366–382.
  • Kotavaara, O., Antikainen, H. & Rusanen, J. (2011). Urbanization and Transportation in Finland, 1880-1970: A GIS Analysis. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42: 1, 89–109.
  • Kotavaara, O., Antikainen, H. & Rusanen, J. (2011). Population change and accessibility by road and rail networks: GIS and statistical approach to Finland 1970–2007. Journal of Transport Geography 19: 4, 926–935.


Main publications

  • Ossi Kotavaara, Harri Antikainen, Mathieu Marmion and Jarmo Rusanen (2012). Scale in the effect of accessibility on population change: GIS and statistical approach to road, air and rail accessibility in Finland, 1990‒2008. The Geographical Journal.
  • Lankila, T., Näyhä, S., Rautio, A., Nordström, T., Koiranen, M., Taanila, A. & Rusanen, J. (2012). Self-reported health in urban-rural continuum: a grid-based analysis of Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. International Journal of Public Health 57:3, 525–533.
  • Lankila, T., Näyhä, S., Rautio, A., Koiranen, M., Rusanen, J. & Taanila, A. (2012). Health and well-being of movers in rural and urban areas – a grid-based analysis of Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. Social Science & Medicine, in press.
  • Kotavaara, O., H. Antikainen and J. Rusanen (2011) Urbanization and Transportation in Finland, 1880‒1970. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLII:I (Summer 2011), 89‒109.
  • Kotavaara, Ossi, Antikainen Harri ja Jarmo Rusanen (2011). Population change and accessibility by road and rail networks: GIS and statistical approach to Finland 1970–2007. Journal of Transport Geography 19. 926‒935.
  • Määttä-Juntunen, H., Antikainen, H., Kotavaara, O. & Rusanen, J. (2011). Using GIS tools to estimate CO2 emissions related to the accessibility of large retail stores in the Oulu region, Finland. Journal of Transport Geography 19: 346-354.
  • Store, R. & H. Antikainen (2010). Using GIS-based multicriteria evaluation and path optimization for effective forest field inventory. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 34:2, 153-161.
  • Antikainen, H. (2009). Terrain path optimization using the connectivity graph approach applied to GIS data structures. Nordia Geographical Publications 38:3.
  • Hätälä, J., O. Kotavaara, H. Antikainen & J. Rusanen (2009). Paikkatietoanalyysin avulla voidaan selvittää historiallisia väestömuutoksia. Hyvinvointikatsaus 2/2009, 59–62.
  • Pekka Kauppila & Jarmo Rusanen (2009). A grid cell viewpoint to resorts: case studies in Northern Finland. Scandinavian tourism of Hospitality and Tourism 9:1, 1-21.
  • Kurikka, H. (2008). Suomen yliopistoista valmistuneiden alueellinen sijoittuminen 1990-luvulta 2000-luvulle. Hallintopalvelujen lausunnot, muistiot, selvitykset ja tilastot nro. 58.
  • Antikainen H., J. Rusanen, S. Vartiainen, M. Myllyaho, J. Karvonen, M. Oivo, J. Similä & K. Laine (2006). Location-based Services as a Tool for Developing Tourism in Marginal Regions. Nordia Geographical Publications 35:2, 39-50. NGP Yearbook 2006. Theme Issue on Northern nature and Human Activities.
  • Hiltula, J. & J. Rusanen (2006). Maankohoamisrannikon dynaaminen maisemamalli. Paikkatietotyökalu alueiden käytön suunnitteluun. Pohjois-Suomen maantieteellisen seuran ja Oulun yliopiston maantieteen laitoksen julkaisuja 1/2006.
  • Kauppila, P., J. Rusanen & T. Muilu (2005). Pohjois-Suomen suurten matkailukeskusten ja niiden sijaintikuntien väestökehitys: paikkatietonäkökulma. Matkailututkimus 1, 26-45.
  • Antikainen, H., D. Bendas, K. Marjoniemi, M. Myllyaho, M. Oivo, A. Colpaert, N. Jaako, P. Kuvaja, K. Laine, J. Rusanen, E. Saari & J. Similä (2004). Mobile Environmental Information Systems. Cybernetics and Systems: An International Journal 35: 7-8, 737-751.
  • Muilu, T. & J. Rusanen (2004). Rural definitions and short-term dynamics in rural areas of Finland in 1989-1997. Environment and Planning A 36:8, 1499-1516.
  • Rusanen, J., T. Muilu, A. Colpaert & A. Naukkarinen (2004). Georeferenced data as a tool for monitoring the concentration of population in Finland in 1970-1998. Fennia 181:2, 129-144.


Last updated: 22/6/2017