Meet the IGNITE Finalists – Li Lin

This week we are featuring IGNITE Finalist Li Lin from the IGNITE team CSISS. In this interview, Li shares information about his studies to become a geographer and how he hopes to apply his knowledge and research to help with the development of his team’s Smart M.App, Crime Alert System.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I am from China and currently living in Fairfax, Virginia which is 20 minutes away from the political heart of the United States: Washington D.C.

Q: Where did you attend school and what did you study? Why did you choose this subject?
A: I received my bachelor’s degree in Geography at Ohio University, and I am currently a Ph.D. student studying Earth Science at George Mason University. Different from Geology, which focuses on discovering what happened on the Earth’s surface in the past, geographers are trying to understand what is currently happening on the Earth. The study of Geoscience tries to understand the relationships between human and nature and how they interact with each other. I am excited to become a geographer.

Q: Where do you currently work? What is your job? What are your responsibilities?
A: I am currently a full time Ph.D. student at George Mason University, and Research Assistant at the Center for Spatial Information Science and System (CSISS), which is an interdisciplinary research center chartered by the provost and affiliated with the College of Science at George Mason University. With many other young scientists in the center, I am involved in solving existing scientific difficulties by working on projects funded by U.S. federal agencies and international organizations. From these projects, many products have been developed and have become freely available to the public at the center.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do during your free time?
A: Most of my free time is spent reading. Reading helps me keep my brain fresh by receiving new knowledge. Fishing is my favorite activity when the weather is nice. By escaping the crowded city, I  enjoy the noiseless moments while catching fish.

Q: Where did your interest in geospatial/mapping/information services come from?
A: The study of Geography provides me a great opportunity of knowing the beauty of combining information and geography, as we have learned that location is one of the essential parameters for many phenomena.

Q: How did you hear about IGNITE?
A: Professor Liping Di, who is the director of CSISS, met Stan Tillman from Hexagon Geospatial and was introduced to the IGNITE competition. We were very excited that we could join this large international competition, and glad that we were selected as one of the 20 Finalists.

Q: Why are you excited about this competition?
A: Our group thinks this is a great opportunity for our center to participate and share how our idea could change the way people understand the world.

Q: What is the problem your Smart M.App addresses?
A: Our application focuses on displaying crime information at the county level to help people make better decisions.

Q: What is your Smart M.App called?
A: It is called Crime Alert System.

Q: What IGNITE Theme does it support? 
A: This application is designed to support crime prevention under the Safety theme.

Q: What does it do?
A: The model of the application uses both crime information and public census data to understand the relationship between them. After that, the application uses real census data to predict the safety level for different places. In addition to viewing the result, the user can edit the input demographic data to get results of the updated crime index.

Currently, we have released crime indices for contiguous states. In the future, we look forward to providing more reliable information and more coverage. We hope this product will not only serve as reference data, but will contribute to reducing crime as well.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your Smart M.App?
A: Our application will serve as a reference for local governments and agencies to understand the relationship between crime and census data. They could use it to lower the crime rate for existing communities. Moreover, this application will also provide as a reference for general public to make decisions when traveling or relocating. Eventually the application could contribute to increase the level of safety across different communities.

Note: Although this Smart M.App is no longer available, you can browse through tons of other Smart M.Apps on the M.App Exchange.

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