SpatialRank: Urban Event Ranking with NDCG Optimization on Spatiotemporal Data

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


BANG AN, Xun Zhou, YONGJIAN ZHONG, Tianbao Yang


The problem of urban event ranking aims at predicting the top-$k$ most risky locations of future events such as traffic accidents and crimes. This problem is of fundamental importance to public safety and urban administration especially when limited resources are available. The problem is, however, challenging due to complex and dynamic spatio-temporal correlations between locations, uneven distribution of urban events in space, and the difficulty to correctly rank nearby locations with similar features. Prior works on event forecasting mostly aim at accurately predicting the actual risk score or counts of events for all the locations. Rankings obtained as such usually have low quality due to prediction errors. Learning-to-rank methods directly optimize measures such as Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain (NDCG), but cannot handle the spatiotemporal autocorrelation existing among locations. Due to the common assumption that items are independent. In this paper, we bridge the gap by proposing a novel spatial event ranking approach named SpatialRank. SpatialRank features adaptive graph convolution layers that dynamically learn the spatiotemporal dependencies across locations from data. In addition, the model optimizes through surrogates a hybrid NDCG loss with a spatial component to better rank neighboring spatial locations. We design an importance-sampling with a spatial filtering algorithm to effectively evaluate the loss during training. Comprehensive experiments on three real-world datasets demonstrate that SpatialRank can effectively identify the top riskiest locations of crimes and traffic accidents and outperform state-of-art methods in terms of NDCG by up to 12.7%.