UCL Department of Geography


Muki Haklay FAcSS

I have worked with Geographical Information Systems since the late 1980s. During my undergraduate studies (Computer Science & Geography at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem), I became interested in the role of GIS in the context of environment and society.

I continued with an MA in Geography (1997, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) with elements of computer science. I came to UCL to study for a PhD in Geography (2002, UCL). In 2001, I joined UCL as a lecturer and was promoted to professor in 2011. Between 2001 and 2017 I was a member of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering.

More about Professor Haklay

The core area of my research is public access, use, and creation of Environmental Information. This is an aspect of environment and society relationships – we construct our understanding of environmental issues through scientific research and information and environmental decision-making is relying on the scientific and professional information. This creates a major obstacle to public participation in environmental decision-making – because participants are expected to have the ability to access, use, and understand the information in order to argue for a specific course of action. There are many side effects that are caused by the interface between environmental information and the public.

In the process of trying to make sense of public and environmental information, I’ve explored many related areas. This includes:

  • Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Usability Engineering (UE) aspects of GIS – most environmental information have a spatial component, and therefore it is stored and managed in GIS. To understand how it is being produced and how to make it easier to use, I ventured into the area of HCI. My interest is in using theories, approaches, and tools from HCI/UE in the service of building participatory mapping or citizen science systems or in sharing environmental information with the public. These techniques are also helpful in understanding and researching how environmental information is used.
  • Societal aspects of geographical technologies – I have an ongoing interest in considering the wider implications of geographical technologies: from GIS to GPS, to mobile phones and the way geographical information is evolving and used. I have been exploring the literature on the philosophy of technology, science and technology studies, and public engagement in science and technology. These frameworks are helpful in considering the societal aspects of these technologies, as well as considering how interventions and new technologies should be developed.
  • Participatory and crowdsourced mapping – participatory mapping is an important method that allows the public to create their own environmental information and use it. I have been working in this area on a range of scales – from small-scale mapping with local residents who live near UCL in central London, to the analysis of OpenStreetMap contributions from across the world during the Haiti earthquake in 2010. The technologies that are developed within the ExCiteS groups are especially geared towards this area – for example, the Sapelli application that is aimed at allowing illiterate participants to participate in environmental information production. Fundamental to this area is the integration of technology and social practices to ensure that participation in inclusionary and meaningful.
  • Citizen Science – Citizen science opened up the possibilities for participants from all walks of life to participate in creating environmental information that is actionable and usable. I am interested in participatory forms of citizen science that include extended peer communities (as suggested by Funtowicz and Ravetz 1993), the citizen-led concept of scientific knowledge production (as suggested by Irwin 1995), and bottom-up activities that are inclusive and participatory. In particular, in ExCiteS we’re developing a form of citizen science that is situated, a bottom-up practice that takes into account local needs, practices and culture and works with broad networks of people to design and build new devices and knowledge-creation processes that can transform the world.
  • Policy aspects of environmental information, crowdsourced geographic information, and citizen science – the access and use of environmental information and its role in environmental decision-making is linked to regulations, conventions, and policies. A common aspect of my research is the analysis of the policy landscape and understanding how the technical and societal aspects of producing and using information fit within wider organisational and governance systems.

Since 2001, I have secured over £13.5 million in research funding, from research councils, and the public, private and third sectors. 


I am the course convenor for the Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing (GEOG0152) module.



    To view Professor Haklay's publications, please visit UCL Profiles:


    Research Interests

    My research interests include public access, use, and creation of environmental information; participatory mapping and participatory applications of GIS; citizen science and community science; usability and interaction aspects of geographical technologies; policy aspects of participatory approaches. 


    Over the past 20 years, I have contributed to wider societal and economic activities through consultancy, promoting social enterprise activities at UCL (and setting the first UCL-owned social enterprise), and to policy.


    I have been involved in over 20 consultancy projects in the past 15 years, working on usability aspects of public GIS (with Wandsworth Council, Camden Police), geographic information management (with the MoD, Ordnance Survey, Argent King’s Cross), and participatory mapping (London Sustainability Exchange, URBED). The most recent projects included work with the World Bank-GFDRR on managing a study and report writing about VGI use in government; Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars writing a report about Citizen Science and policy; and with Client Earth adaptation of the Sapelli app to handle HTML files so it can be used to navigate legal documents about logging.

    Social Enterprise

    I have promoted social enterprise at UCL and through work with UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. In particular, I’ve co-founded Mapping for Change a social enterprise that will support sustainable communities through online mapping,  Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and citizen science. Details of Mapping for Change activities are covered in the impact case study that is available here.


    I have contributed to policy formation through reports, discussions and briefings. An example of this contribution see the talk that I gave at the Wilson Center on environmental information, the contribution to the policy document of the League of European Research Universities on Citizen Science, or the policy briefs that are being developed within the Doing It Together Science project.

    Media and communication

    I was on the advisory board of the NSF-funded series “The Crowd and The Cloud“, and the work of ExCiteS has received coverage in Nature, Science, Le Monde, BBC Click and many other outlets.

    Research Students

    I have supervised 32 PhD students as a first and secondary supervisor since 2003. These students were at UCL, the University of Malta, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    As a Primary Supervisor, I have worked with:

    • Claire Ellul (funded by the EPSRC and Laser Scan Ltd). Topic: 3D Topological Queries in Spatial Databases. Peter Woodsford [visiting professor, Geomatic Engineering] second supervisor. Subsequently Lecturer in GIS, UCL.
    • Katerina Christopoulou (funded by the government of Greece). Topic: Spatial Data Mining for Property Valuation. Paul Cross [Geomatic Engineering] second supervisor. Subsequently Risk Modeller at RMS.
    • Ana Rocha Simao (funded by the government of Portugal). Topic: Spatial Decision Support for Wind Farm Siting.  Paul Densham [Geography] second supervisor. Subsequently Lecturer in GIS, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
    • Hanif Rahemtulla (funded by the ESRC through a 1+3 arrangement). Topic: Mobile Alerting Service for Community Activities. Paul Longley [Geography] second supervisor. Subsequently post-doctoral researcher, McGill University, Montreal
    • Byron Antoniou (funded by the Greek Government). Topic: Mapping in the era of Web 2.0. Jeremy Morley [Nottingham CGS] second supervisor. Subsequently officer in the Greek Military Survey.
    • Tyng-Rong Roan (self funded). Topic: Modelling Pedestrian Evacuation in Emergency Situations. Claire Ellul [CEGE] second supervisor. Subsequently researcher at DfT.
    • Zhiwei Cao (self funded). Topic: Implementing Map Calculus in GIS. Dr. Tao Cheng [CEGE] second supervisor. Subsequently researcher at Cranfield University.
    • Jessica Wardlaw (funded by EPSRC and Dr Foster Intelligence). Topic: Usability of Maps and GIS in Health Informatics. Angela Sasse [CS] second supervisor. Subsequently a researcher at the University of Nottingham.
    • Seong K. Choi (self funded). Topic: A geospatial ontology for intelligent transport systems. Pragya Agarwal [Lancaster] second supervisor. Completed his studies in 2015.
    • Thomas Koukoletsos (funded by the Greek Government). Topic: Spatial Data Quality of Volunteer Geographical Information. First supervisor and Claire Ellul [CEGE] second. Subsequently officer in the Greek Military Survey.
    • Diana Masstracci Sanchez (funded by EU FP7). Jerome Lewis [Anthropology] second supervisor.
    • Christian Nold (funded by EU FP7). Topic: Community participation in environmental monitoring. Jennifer Gabrys [Goldsmiths] second supervisor. Subsequently a postdoctoral researcher at UCL.
    • Gianfranco Gliozzo (funded by EPSRC and the Zoological Society of London). Topic: Developing citizen science mobile application using gaming concepts. Nathalie Pettorelli [Institute of Zoology] second supervisor.
    • Michalis Vitos (funded by EPSRC). Topic: scientific visualisations for non-literate users. Claire Ellul [CEGE] second supervisor. Subsequently a postdoctoral researcher at UCL.
    • Cindy Regalado (funded by EU FP7). Topic: Public Initiated Scientific Research. Subsequently a postdoctoral researcher at UCL.
    • Valentine Seymour (funded by TCV & UCL). Topic: Patterns of environmental volunteering.
    • Gretchen Fagg (funded by UCL). Topic: Community participation in earthquake and fire preparedness.
    • Marcos Moreu Badia (funded by ERC). Topic: Land Management and data collection with people with little literacy.
    • Yaqian Wu (self funded). Topic: citizen science and sustainable development goals.
    • Fabien Moustard (funded by ERC). Topic: knowledge production within extreme citizen science projects. 

    As a secondary supervisor, I’ve worked with:

    • Kate Jones (funded by the ESRC and Camden Primary Care Trust through a KTP arrangement). Topic: Modelling Health Behaviour s Using Geodemographics. Paul Longley [Geography] first supervisor. Subsequently post-doctoral researcher, UCL and then Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Portsmouth.
    • Christian Castle (funded by the ESRC and Camden Primary Care Trust through a CASE arrangement). Topic: Evacuation Modelling for Kings Cross Underground Station. Paul Longley [Geography] first supervisor. Subsequently consultant in Mott-MacDonald.
    • Tina Thomson (funded by the EPSRC and the Ordnance Survey through a CASE for New Academics arrangement). Topic: The Enrichment of Spatial Databases using an Ontological Approach. Rod Béra [Geomatic Engineering] first supervisor. Subsequently analyst, Risk Management Solutions.
    • Catherine Lowe (funded by the ESRC through a 1+3 arrangement). Topic: Evaluation Vulnerability of Volcanic Island Communities. Jointly supervised by myself, Paul Longley [Geography] and Bill McGuire [Benfield Hazard Research Centre]. Subsequently analyst, Aon Benfield Analytics.
    • Karin Talmor, Tel Aviv University (self-funded). Topic: the Effect of ICT on Urban and Regional Planning. Juval Portugali [TAU Geography] first supervisor. Appointment approved by TAU.
    • Artemis Skarlatidou (funded by EPSRC and Arup). Topic: Trust in Web-GIS for Nuclear Waste Siting. Tao Cheng [CEGE] first supervisor. Subsequently researcher, UCL.
    • Andrew Chilvers (funded by EPSRC and Arup). Topic: Engineering Engagement. Sarah Bell [CEGE] first supervisor. Subsequently researcher, UCL.
    • Nama Raj Budhathoki, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Topic: Motivations of contributors to Volunteer Geographical Information project. I was requested to join the Thesis Committee. Subsequently post-doctoral researcher, McGill University, Montreal.
    • Enrica Verrucci (funded by EPICENTRE and ImageCat Ltd). Topic: Multi-disciplinary Indicators to measure and monitor Earthquake Resilience by using Remote sensing and GIS. Tiziana Rossetto [CEGE] first supervisor.
    • Therese Bajada (funded by the Maltese government). Topic: modelling changes in public transport policy.  Helena Titheridge [CEGE] first supervisor.
    • Julia Altenbuchner (funded by EPSRC). Topic: geographic information visualisation for non-literate users. Claire Ellul [CEGE] first supervisor.
    • Wendy Jo Attard, the University of Malta (self-funded). Topic: participatory planning in historical cities regeneration. Paul Gauci [UoM] first supervisor.
    • Hagit Keisar, Ben Gurion University, Israel (self-funded). Topic: participatory mapping and DIY science in contested cities. Haim Yacobi [BGU] and Michal Givoni [BGU] first supervisors.
    • Carlos Cañas Sanz, the University of Malta (self-funded). Topic: modelling walkability in Malta with volunteered geographic information. Maria Attard [UoM] first supervisor.
    • Alex Papadopoulos (funded by the EU H2020). Topic: Human Computer Interaction and Spatial Data Quality for Online Civic Engagement. Artemis Skarlatidou [UCL] first supervisor.
    • Simon Hoyte (funded by ERC).
    • Jonathan Mille (funded through NERC DTC)