Large pre-trained models, also known as foundation models (FMs), are trained in a task-agnostic manner on large-scale data and can be adapted to a wide range of downstream tasks by fine-tuning, few-shot, or even zero-shot learning. Despite their successes in language and vision tasks, we have yet seen an attempt to develop foundation models for geospatial artificial intelligence (GeoAI). In this work, we explore the promises and challenges of developing multimodal foundation models for GeoAI. We first investigate the potential of many existing FMs by testing their performances on seven tasks across multiple geospatial subdomains including Geospatial Semantics, Health Geography, Urban Geography, and Remote Sensing. Our results indicate that on several geospatial tasks that only involve text modality such as toponym recognition, location description recognition, and US state-level/county-level dementia time series forecasting, these task-agnostic LLMs can outperform task-specific fully-supervised models in a zero-shot or few-shot learning setting. However, on other geospatial tasks, especially tasks that involve multiple data modalities (e.g., POI-based urban function classification, street view image-based urban noise intensity classification, and remote sensing image scene classification), existing foundation models still underperform task-specific models. Based on these observations, we propose that one of the major challenges of developing a FM for GeoAI is to address the multimodality nature of geospatial tasks. After discussing the distinct challenges of each geospatial data modality, we suggest the possibility of a multimodal foundation model which can reason over various types of geospatial data through geospatial alignments. We conclude this paper by discussing the unique risks and challenges to develop such a model for GeoAI.
Narrative cartography is a discipline which studies the interwoven nature of stories and maps. However, conventional geovisualization techniques of narratives often encounter several prominent challenges, including the data acquisition & integration challenge and the semantic challenge. To tackle these challenges, in this paper, we propose the idea of narrative cartography with knowledge graphs (KGs). Firstly, to tackle the data acquisition & integration challenge, we develop a set of KG-based GeoEnrichment toolboxes to allow users to search and retrieve relevant data from integrated cross-domain knowledge graphs for narrative mapping from within a GISystem. With the help of this tool, the retrieved data from KGs are directly materialized in a GIS format which is ready for spatial analysis and mapping. Two use cases - Magellan's expedition and World War II - are presented to show the effectiveness of this approach. In the meantime, several limitations are identified from this approach, such as data incompleteness, semantic incompatibility, and the semantic challenge in geovisualization. For the later two limitations, we propose a modular ontology for narrative cartography, which formalizes both the map content (Map Content Module) and the geovisualization process (Cartography Module). We demonstrate that, by representing both the map content and the geovisualization process in KGs (an ontology), we can realize both data reusability and map reproducibility for narrative cartography.