EEO/AGI Scotland Seminar: “VGI and Citizen Science: what we know and what next?” Prof Muke Haklay, UCL

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment

EOO1415This week’s EEO-AGI(S) seminar will be given by Prof. Muke Haklay, Professor of Geographical Information Science, University College London.

The seminar will take place THIS Friday 16th Jan 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.

We look forward to seeing you all at 4.30.

Categories: AGI Scotland, Events

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Prof. Mike Worboys

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment

The seminar given on the 5th December by Professor Mike Worboys was entitled: ‘A Fresh Look at the Object-Field Dichotomy’. In Mike’s own words, this was a ‘fairly abstract’ talk that looked at the mathematical structures lying behind geographical objects and fields, as well as introducing a fresh look at their definitions.

Professor Worboys, an Honorary Professor in the School of GeoSciences here at Edinburgh, is a mathematician by trade, and throughout his career has tried to bridge the gap between GIS and the mathematical theory behind it.

The talk started by outlining the well-known ‘object-field’ model of the world, and the functional relationships joining entities to their attributes (object model), or specific locations with attributes (field model). These are simple ‘timeless’ models of the world, and can be stored in mathematical structures using set theory.

The location of an object or field however, can be expressed spatially (S), temporally (T), or spatio-temporally (SxT) i.e. the product of the spatial and temporal location. Space and time can be represented in several ways, such as on a Cartesian plane, graphs, in 3D (space), or in simultaneous temporal dimensions.

Bringing in this spatio-temporal dimension requires objects and fields to be expressed differently, and some ways of doing this have been suggested, such as Goodchild’s ‘geo-atom’. According to Prof. Worboys this is more of a field-based approach as it begins with the location of the point, followed by its property at that location.

Prof. Worboys introduced the concept of viewing entities as ‘Continuants’ (i.e. things that exist such as a house, a person, a table), or ‘Occurents’ (i.e. events that happen in space-time). This is known as the ‘Snap-Span’ approach. A temporal snapshot is a series of continuants that may differ at each snapshot (‘Snap’ approach), whereas the ‘Span’ approach views the world as a collection of events, with objects existing or changing as a result of these events.

Prof. Worboys then introduced the work of two mathematicians, Leonhard Euler and Joseph-Louis LaGrange, and how their two different models of physical processes can be used to explain geographical entities, much like the object-field approach. Both models were originally developed to explain motions in fluid, and so can be explained as such.

The Eulerian approach imagines that one stands on the bank of a river, and focuses on one spot in the water, of which several attributes may change through time (such as flow rate, temperature, etc.). This is a pure field approach, where the value of an object is found as a product of its location in space and time. This can be done by beginning with the spatial location, followed by the time to find the value (a time series approach), or beginning with the time followed by the spatial location to find the value (snapshots of spatial patterns).

The LaGrangian approach is the opposite. It imagines that one sits on a boat and follows the water (entity) downstream, noting how the attributes of the entity change through time. This can be a mixed or pure object approach, where the value of the entity (which can include its location) is found by combining the entity with time. Starting with time, and then finding the entity to find the value is a mixed approach (snapshots of entity patterns), whereas beginning with the entity and adding the time to find the value is a pure object approach (which produces ‘trajectories’ of the entity through time).

A case study was then used to explain this. When measuring pedestrian movement in a city, the Eulerian approach would be to set up checkpoints and measure the number of pedestrians passing through a certain point or area in a certain time. The LaGrangian approach would be to follow each pedestrian and map their movement through time, to create ‘trajectories’.

Prof. Worboys finished by highlighting the difficulties that may arise when trying to move between the Eulerian and LaGrangian approaches, similar to the difficulties found moving between object and field approaches.

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

Categories: Uncategorized

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

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