The strength of the GIScience is in its ability to simplify extensive spatial phenomena to understandable and manageable forms.

Ossi Kotavaara

PhD, (The title of Docent / Adjunct Professor)

Research Director in Regional Excellence

13 peer reviewed publications in international journals. The publications have been cited 605 times, of which the most cited publication accounts for 143 citations. The author has a h-index of 11.00. (Google Scholar)


The strength of spatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is in their ability to reveal and simplify complex and extensive phenomena to understandable and manageable forms. My GIS based research covers the fields of geoinformatics, transport geography, regional science as well as population and economic geographies. My work consists of academic, development and management duties in national and international projects. The analytical basis of my work is in applying and developing GIS methods for exploring, planning and optimising processes and structures in geographic context. My GIS analytical experience consists of four main fields: 1) network based accessibility analyses and method development in this field, 2) spatial-statistical/geo-spatial modelling 3) map production and 4) implementation of large computations by programming. Furthermore, by mixed use of geo-spatial and qualitative approaches, even more powerful composition is formed to tackle problems in dynamic society.

Twitter / Google Scholar / ResearchGate / SoleCRIS / List of Publications

Projects (active)

SOLOGS - Vähähiilinen SOTE-lähipalvelulogistiikka

This project aims to develop carbon efficiency of social and healthcare service network by bringing new knowledge about reasonable service locations and efficient patient and material logistics. As subtasks, the project develops the entity of social and healthcare services in Northern Ostrobothnia region from the viewpoints of customer accessibility, market potential and logistics service network. New solutions for thin material flows with long distances are sought through transport integration. Also, the project develops opportunities for geographically mobile services in the region. See SOLOGS pages.

Global geographic accessibility to food resources: Exploring spatial mismatch between food production, consumption and transport system by using big and open source data

Despite of satisfactory level of global food production, shortage of food is still a huge problem in some of the less-developed countries. Future climate change, population growth and conflicts likely increase the problem, whereas developing farming practices and opportunities to boost fair markets may ease off the hunger problem. However, regional balance between production and consumption, as well as differences in transport system conditions among regions, have a key role in satisfying demand. Aim of the study is to explore spatial mismatch between proxies of food production and consumption in accurately localised data. Two year project is funded by Kone Foundation. See project pages.

Ala-Hulkko, T., Kotavaara, O., Alahuhta, J. & J. Hjort (2019). Mapping supply and demand of a provisioning ecosystem service across Europe. Ecological Indicators 103: 520-529.

Contact persons: Ossi Kotavaara and Terhi Ala-Hulkko

Improving the information base and optimising service solutions to support social welfare and health care reform (IMPRO)

Impro is a multidisciplinary research project seeking to develop new analysis methods for evaluating health and social services, and to support the development of more equal and cost-effective services.Funding by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) and the Academy of Finland. See IMPRO pages.

Opportunities and effects of mobility and multi-locality (Alueellisen liikkuvuuden ja monipaikkaisuuden mahdollisuudet ja seuraukset)

Study surveys state and magnitude of mobility and multi-locality in Finland by different perspectives. Particular attention is paid for work related mobility patterns and exploring individual, work place related and regional characteristics affecting to both phenomena. Funding by VN TEAS.

Projects (ended)

Quantification and valuation of ecosystem services to optimize sustainable re-use for low-productive drained peatlands (LIFEPeatLandUse)

Aim is to produce GIS based maps to demonstrate the predicted impacts of peatland re-use options on ecosystem services within project LIFEPeatLandUse. Funding: LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance (LIFEPeatLandUse).

Kotavaara, O., Parviainen, M. & J. Rusanen (2017). Cartographic dissemination of peat land re-use scenarios – Intelligible and accessible web maps for specialists and the masses. 20th AGILE International Conference on Geographic Information Science.

Tolvanen, A., et al. (2018). LIFEPeatLandUse (LIFE12 ENV/FI/000150) 2013 – 2018 Layman’s report. Luonnonvara- ja biotalouden tutkimus 48/2018. Luonnonvarakeskus 2018.

Balancing Local Politics, Housing Preferences and Sustainability in the New Detached Housing Areas in the Rural-Urban Interaction Zones (BALANCE)

The geography reserach unit's sub-project considered development paths in different new villages in the context of housing preferences, and more precicely how have the positive and/or negative development paths of different urban regions effected to the housing preferences of inhabitants in the new villages? The GIS based analyses focused to reveal migration patterns of skilled labour in relation to regional competitiveness.

Kotavaara, N., Kotavaara, O., Rusanen, J. & T. Muilu (2018). University Graduate Migration in Finland. Geoforum 96, 97-107.

Accessibility of sports facilities (LINDA) (Liikuntapaikkojen saavutettavuusindeksi)

LINDA project developed accessibility measures for sport facilities in Finland. Accessibility indices may be applied in monitoring success of sport policies in municipalities and measuring coverage of sport facilities and their regional differences. Funding: Ministry of the Education and Culture

Kotavaara O. & J. Rusanen (2016). Liikuntapaikkojen saavutettavuus paikkatietoperusteisessa tarkastelussa: Liikuntapaikkojen saavutettavuusindeksi (LINDA) -hankkeen loppuraportti Nordia Tiedonantoja 1/2016.

Healthy Suport Services (Terveet tukipalvelut - Tehokkaat ja käyttäjälähtöisen tukipalvelumallit pitkien etäisyyksien terveyspalvelujärjestelmissä)

Healthy Support Services (Effective, user-centered and scalable support service models in long distance health care systems) project is close to health care systems in sparsely populated areas with long distances. Instead of developing existing systems, effectiveness is sought by producing services that are based on actual value for the main functions in health care. In this project we concentrate on value creation of support operation and scalable service model for areas with long distances without organizational barriers. Funding: Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES)

Kotavaara, O., Pohjosenperä, T., Juga, J. & J. Rusanen (2017). Accessibility in designing centralised warehousing: case of health care logistics in Northern Finland. Applied Geography 84: 83-92.


Local and organic foods have gained a larger share of the markets in Finland during the last years. Potentials to increase the use of local food have strong connections to accessibility. The RuokaGIS project will use geospatial analysis and geographical information systems/science (GIScience) to reveal location and accessibility patterns of local and organic food at the province of Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland.

Korhonen K. ,Kotavaara, O., Muilu, T. & J. Rusanen (2017). Accessibility of local food production to regional markets – Case of berry production in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland. European Countryside .

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

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. See ESPON TRACC pages.

Spiekermann, K., et al. (2015). TRACC, Transport Accessibility at Regional/Local Scale and Patterns in Europe. Final Report. Vol 1. TRACC Executive Summary and Main Report.

Kotavaara, O., Antikainen, H. & J. Rusanen (2013). Accessibility patterns: Finland case study. Europa XXI 24: 111–127.

Regional typology

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. Participating organizations are Agrifood Research Finland (MTT), Finland’s environmental administration (SYKE), Finnish regional research (FAR), Joint authority of Kainuu region, Ruralia Institute at University of Helsinki, Statistics Finland, Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), University of Eastern Finland, University of Oulu, and University of Tampere.

Helminen, V., Nurmio, K., Rehunen, A., Ristimäki, M., Oinonen, K., Tiitu, M., Kotavaara, O., Antikainen, H. & J. Rusanen (2014). Kaupunki-maaseutu-alueluokitus. Paikkatietoihin perustuvan alueluokituksen muodostamisperiaatteet. Suomen ympäristokeskuksen raportteja 25/2014.

The European Road and Rail Infrastructure: A Geographical Information System for the History of the European Integration (1825–2005) / Finnish Railways in the Nordic and Russian context (FiRa)(Link)

FiRa was a sub-project of The European Road and Rail Infrastructure: A Geographical Information System for the History of the European Integration (1825–2005), which was supported by European Scienve Foundation (ESF). FiRa was funded by Academy of Finland.

Kotavaara, O., Pukkinen, M., Antikainen, H. & J. Rusanen (2014). Role of Accessibility and Socio-Economic Variables in Modelling Population Change at Varying Scale. Journal of Geographic Information System 6: 386-403.
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. & J. Rusanen (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. & J. Rusanen (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.
Kotavaara, O., Antikainen, H. & J. Rusanen (2011). Urbanization and Transportation in Finland, 1880-1970: A GIS Analysis. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42: 1, 89–109.


Position based analyses and services in geography (5 cr), annually since 2007.

Position of trust

ProGIS ry, Board member

Management group of the department, Department of Geography, University of Oulu, Member

Social media

Scientific merits

Research groups

  • Tutkimusjohtaja, Regional Excellence (REx)