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Dr. Claus RINNER is a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU, formerly Ryerson University). He joined TMU in 2006 and served as Graduate Program Director (2007-2012, 2013-2015, 2018) for the Master of Spatial Analysis (MSA), Department Chair (2015-2018), and Undergraduate Program Director (2019/20, 2021-present) for the BA (Hons) in Geographic Analysis.

Dr. Rinner holds a Bachelor's degree (1993) in Mathématiques appliquées et sciences sociales from Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France, a Master's degree (1996) in Applied Systems Science from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, and a PhD (1999) in Geography from the University of Bonn. After a brief stint as a software developer, he taught at the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Münster (2001-2003) and the Department of Geography and Programme in Planning at the University of Toronto (2003-2006).



Within Geographic Information Science, Dr. Rinner specializes in geographic visualization and multi-criteria decision analysis to support effective spatial decision-making. He develops map-centred, exploratory methods to evaluate phenomena such as public health and urban quality of life. Dr. Rinner also works on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) concepts to support participatory planning, and investigates the decision support capabilities of GIS technologies such as Location-Based Services and Spatial Data Infrastructures.

Core research areas:

  • Geographic visualization
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Spatial decision support systems (SDSS)
  • Map-centred multi-criteria decision analysis
  • Participatory Geoweb
  • Argumentation maps
  • Volunteered geographic data & information
  • Open data and open-source geospatial software
  • 3D-printed geographies

Application domains:

  • Health geography: public health; health care delivery/coverage
  • Urban & regional geography & planning: wellbeing/quality of life assessment
  • Retail geography and location intelligence
  • Environmental change: local effects, vulnerability, and adaptation strategies

Additional research interests and technologies

  • Internet mapping and Web-based SDSS (WebSDSS)
  • Multi-criteria evaluation in location-based services (LBS)
  • Decision services in interoperable geo-processing, spatial data infrastructures
  • 3D visualization of activity travel patterns
  • Spatial cognition, experimental cartography: map perception, map comparison


Dr. Rinner is co-author of a 2015 Springer monograph on Multicriteria Decision Analysis in Geographic Information Science, which summarizes the results of a decade of research into spatial decision support techniques and applications. More recently, Dr. Rinner wrote extensive commentary about the COVID-19 data fiasco, misleading pandemic mapping, and ill-informed crisis management. Some of this work is available as "The Coronoia Series" in paperback and eBook formats as well as on the GIS2 blog.

The research published in Dr. Rinner's 40 peer-reviewed articles and many other works was partially funded by a series of NSERC Discovery Grants (2004-09, 2011-16, 2016-2023) as well as by the GEOIDE Network of Centres of Excellence (2005-09, 2009-12), a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2012-14), and a SSHRC Partnership Grant (2013-19). As of January 2023, Dr. Rinner has an h-index of 29 and ten publications with over 100 citations.

Please visit Google Scholar for a full list of publications sorted by year.

Students & Teaching

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide an essential tool for handling spatial datasets across disciplinary boundaries and within activities as diverse as public administration, business management, and scientific research. Quite regularly, business and science magazines report on the ever-increasing career opportunities related to GIS and other geo-technologies. Since Toronto Metropolitan University has a strong and longstanding commitment to career-oriented education, the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, formerly School of Applied Geography, is an ideal place for GIS education.

Teaching Philosophy

The study of GIS and spatial analysis methods is grounded in the Geographic Information Science & Technology body of scholarly knowledge. As an instructor of undergraduate classes, I am responsible for conveying thorough conceptual knowledge of GIScience along with stimulating enthusiasm and critical thought about GIS software. As a teacher and supervisor of graduate students, I aim to provide advanced training that enables and encourages students to pursue a career in academia, government, or the private sector.

A characteristic of my teaching is the methods-oriented approach that draws from examples in the science, social science, and health disciplines, in which GIS can be applied. I aim to familiarize students with more than one GIS software package, focusing on the over-arching principles of GIS applications and enabling students to quickly get acquainted with whatever GIS technology they may be asked to work with in the course of their future careers. As part of a critical approach to GIS education, I also like to emphasize the value of open-source tools and the existence of an open-source geospatial community that includes many Canadian academics and businesses.

As part of my teaching, I am involving students in my research program through research assistant positions and individual supervision of research projects, research papers and theses. This is a great way of getting hands-on experience with current GIS research and development trends - not only for graduate students but equally for talented undergraduates of diverse disciplinary backgrounds. My supervisions in the MSA program are included in the program's Major Research Paper list. I also supervise PhD students in Environmental Applied Science and Management, other TMU graduate students, as well as undergraduate students from the BA in Geographic Analysis and BA in Environment and Urban Sustainability.



Dr. Claus Rinner
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Toronto Metropolitan University
350 Victoria Street
Toronto ON M5B 2K3, Canada