Smart Energy – Geo:The Big 5 Call for Speakers

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

energyFollowing on from our highly successful 2014 Geo: The Big 5 event series, the AGI is delighted to announce that the first of the 2015 series is now open for content submission.

Smart Energy will be held in Edinburgh on 26 February 2015. Hosted by AGI Scotland, in partnership with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, we will focus on the security of future energy demands.

Sustainable supply requires a new approach. The grid itself needs to become smart, in addition to new technology managing demand. Understanding the needs of the citizen alongside environmental and policy challenges are key. All are highly dependent on a detailed geospatial understanding.

This is a wide topic with huge scope for some fascinating insight. The call for speakers is now open and the event committee would welcome submissions via the online form.

Delegate booking will open shortly. Please hold the date and look out for further details being announced shortly.  In 2014 we had a record turn-out for our annual event and we expect this year to also be incredibly popular, early booking will be essential.

Sponsorship opportunities are available across the Geo:The Big 5 event series for 2015.  Contact David Reay for further details.

Categories: Events

EEO Seminar: “A fresh look at the object-field dichotomy” – Prof. Mike Worboys, Univ. of Greenwich

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

EOO1415This week’s EEO-AGI(S) seminar will be given by Prof. Mike Worboys of Professor of Spatial Informatics, School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences, University of Greenwich and Honorary Professor here in GeoSciences at Edinburgh.

The seminar will take place THIS Friday 5th Dec at 4.30pm in the Old Library, Geography Building, Univ. of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP.

Also a reminder that following all EEO-AGI(S) Seminars are AGI Geo-Drinks for informal professional networking held from 5.45 in Teviot Library Bar, Bristo Sq, EH8 9AJ. All welcome – please do come along and meet colleagues and fellow AGI members.

Categories: AGI Scotland, Events

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Prof. Clive Sabel

November 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Can we model our exposure to our environment? Understanding human health has always been important to society – as, naturally, we do not particularly like it when we know someone who is ill. Current research has asked questions such as: What are the genetic predispositions to the illness?; How long have these illness been present and when did exposure to it occur?; and Where is this occurring?

The traditional approach to epidemiology (the study of the distribution and determinants of illnesses) has been based on the fact that people are fairly static in their lives. Yet more people are moving all the time, not just in the same area but moving regions and nations as well. Another factor is that we don’t estimate exposure by tracking individuals in their daily lives.

This is where the exposome (the area in which we are exposed to illnesses) comes into the discussion. Two thirds of deaths are caused by non-communicle (non infectious) illnesses and only ten percent are due to genetic variations. Therefore the rest are caused by our environment. The idea of looking at how life circumstances affect human health is not a new one; John Wallis in 1790 describes an idea of following people from birth until death and to measure their health throughout. The exposome assess three aspects of life: the internal aspects; the general external situations (such as social stressors); and the specific external factors which include radiation and lifestyle factors.

Professor Clive Sabel has been researching the routines of daily lives and the risk of exposure to such illnesses. In our everyday lives we will come across various hazards – whether this is crossing the road, walking into secondary smoke, or even eating something amazingly unhealthy. By mapping these movements through the course of the day, we can begin to see some very interesting patterns.

How can we track people in their everyday lives? We can use government data to help such as census data and schools in England often send out questionnaires to students’ families asking how they get to school. We can also use social media – such as Tweeting where you are and now on Facebook you can ‘Check in’ with a status update.
Technology has made things a bit easier. There are all kind of fitness measuring devices that also come with GPS (Global Positioning System) to help route plotting and future setting. Most people have a smart phone. Most smart phones have a GPS built into them. A lot of apps ask for location data: coincidence?

Clive Sabel’s pilot study is to investigate how location and activity to assess risks to health in relation to being indoors or outdoors. To do this they were given a range of equipment which measured location, ultraviolet radiation, temperature, and they wrote a paper log of what they did. They did this across seven cities in Europe: Edinburgh, Zeist, Stuttgard, Zagreb, Thessaloniki, Kozani and Athens. Each individual collected data for seven days and carried the equipment wherever they went.

Ultimately, with enough information, it may be possible to create an agent based model to simulate behaviour between daily lives and exposure to containments. This, in time, will help those in the medical profession to model illness and use the environmental/spatial aspects of illnesses and to find ways to treat them.

Chris Kinnear
(MSc in GIS at the University of Edinburgh)

Categories: Uncategorized

Edinburgh GIS Students Graduate Today

November 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on Earth Observation and Spatial Analysis:

Thursday marks the graduation of the latest group of students who have gained an M.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh.  Twenty-nine students graduate with their Masters either in Geographical Information Science or Geographical Information Science & Archaeology. We pass on our congratulations to all of them!  An exceptional number of students gained their degree with distinction and two prize-winners are of particular note. Prizes are presented by Informed Solutions, a leading Cheshire-based information systems consultancy, who maintain a valued long-term relationship with the GIS group at the University.

Sarah Beadle was awarded prize for best dissertation for her study of “The Application of Cluster Analysis to Investigate Multivariate Spatial Patterns in Belizean Lowland Savanna Soils“, in which she brought together for the first time data from four previous but partial soil surveys of the country and applied clustering methods to enable a first national assessment of…

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Categories: Uncategorized

So let’s do GIS at school?

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on Earth Observation and Spatial Analysis:

I was surprised today when I was sent details of a GIS ‘higher’ now available in Scottish Schools. Apparently this SCQF Level 6 qualification has been offered since 2011.  I had never heard of it, and seems I was not the only one.

The curriculum is interesting and I did wonder if we should be responding to this in terms of what we teach in GIS at university-level.  However, I couldn’t resist phoning the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to get the answer to the obvious question.  A rather embarrassed member of their qualification centres team said that, although this has been available since 2011, no centres had been accredited to offer this qualification and thus no-one has ever taken it.

That this qualification asks for pre-requisites of English and Maths, but not Geography is remarkable (basic IT skills are ‘recommended’).  There would seem to be a missed opportunity to strengthen science-based…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Edinburgh Student puts 50,000 Books on the Map for Scottish Book Week

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on Earth Observation and Spatial Analysis:

Alex Mackie, a recently-completed GIS student from the University of Edinburgh has commercialised his dissertation project which gives books locations, and founded his own company mappit.net.

For his MSc dissertation, he chose to mix two subjects close to his heart; books and maps. As well as a research exercise, Alex realised there was commercial value to mapping books, which has been largely ignored by the industry.  If books are properly georeferenced then location-aware e-readers and tablets can use their user’s location to recommend locally relevant books or provide the option to search for books, relating to intended holiday destinations, favourite mountain or place-based Christmas present. This extends the principle that physical bookstores already recognize a demand for locally relevant books, with Waterstones and other retailers stocking shelves with books linked to the shop’s location.

Rather than having to have the text of thousands of books, the method involves extracting…

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Categories: Uncategorized

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Prof. Phil Townsend

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Global change is affecting both natural and agricultural ecosystems, requiring that we develop better ways to monitor and predict vegetation processes. A grand challenge in biology and geosciences is to develop the methods that will allow us to better understand ecosystem change at local to global scales. Contact and imaging spectroscopy show great promise for measurement of the physiology of ecosystems related both to environmental drivers and genetics. Over the last decade, researchers have demonstrated the use of reflectance spectroscopy to rapidly and accurately characterize features of ecosystems that previously entailed considerable monetary expense and effort.

The seminar that was given by Prof. Phil Townsend focused on how the spectral measurements allow us to measure the ‘heartbeat’ and ‘lung capacity’ of different ecosystems and also how those measurements provide the opportunity to characterize traits of ecosystems in order to understand their function. The presentation was rich of real life experiments and case studies, and all of them enclose the main idea, that with the use of spectroscopy we can map the state and function of different ecosystems.

A method was proposed by the speaker in collaboration with a colleague from the University of Minnesota that includes optical measurements. Optical surrogacy provides information about the genetic diversity of the species.

Spectral data are used as a surrogate for physiological processes and hyperspectral images used to map the traits. It might sound simple but it not, to reach the final output a variety of methods, techniques and multiple samplings to estimate the uncertainty of the models are being used, so they can finally create a pixel by pixel trait map. This technique also allows the prediction of the Vmax and Jmax of the ecosystem models.

The adaptation of spectrometers in UAV’s will be enable to bridge the gaps in spatial and temporal measurement capacity from the leaf/canopy to airborne to spaceborne levels and the potential future applications of these methods are extensive, an integrated approach will enable geneticists to understand genome function better, agronomists to better target existing genotypes and breeding for different environmental circumstances, and ecologists to better predict the effects of climate change on agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Niki Katzi
(MSc in GIS at the University of Edinburgh)

Categories: Uncategorized
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