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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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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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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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)

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GIS in Scottish Schools

November 13, 2014 2 comments

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society convened a meeting in Perth on 31st October to discuss issues relating to the uptake of GIS in Scottish Schools.  The meeting was chaired by Dr. Vanessa Lawrence, Secretary General of Ordnance Survey International. Central to the discussion were the following issues:

1. There was clear commitment to further promote the significant value of studying Geography in Scottish schools and universities at a time when the subject is under pressure.

2. There was awareness of the contribution that the Geographical Information (GI) industry can make to Scotland’s future economic prosperity. However, there was also recognition that there remains a significant skills gap amongst our young people at a time when there are many jobs available globally in the buoyant GI industry.

3. There was a concerted desire amongst delegates to reduce existing barriers, including cost, to geographical information use in schools and to work together to develop a long-term strategy to develop teachers’ confidence in delivering GI skills training in schools across Scotland to make our young people competitive in the job market.

Bruce Gittings attended as RSGS Vice Chair, but also wearing his hats as Vice Chair of AGI Scotland and Director of GIS Programmes at the University of Edinburgh. RSGS was also represented by Erica Caldwell (Education Convenor), Chief Executive Mike Robinson and Education Officer, Rachel Hay. Other attendees included Lynne Roberston from Education Scotland, Peter Burnhill and Anne Robertson from EDINA, Elaine Owen and Darren Bailey from Ordnance Survey and Liz Crisp, President of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers (SAGT).

perth meet

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EEO/AGI(S) Seminar: “The behavome: the next frontier in environmental exposure modelling?” – Prof Clive Sabel, Univ. of Bristol

November 12, 2014 Leave a comment

EOO1415This week’s EEO-AGI(S) seminar will be given by Prof. Clive Sabel, Chair in Quantitative Geography, University of Bristol.

The seminar will take place THIS Friday 14th Nov 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.

Seeing you all at 4.30.

Categories: AGI Scotland, Events

GIS Cake wins Edinburgh Geography Bake-Off

November 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on Earth Observation and Spatial Analysis:

GIS Cake

Liz Richardson’s Remarkable Cake

A remarkable four-layer GIS cake has won a charity Bake Off competition organised in the  Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment at the University of Edinburgh. The cake was the work of Liz Richardson, a spatial analyst with the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health (CRESH) based in the Drummond Street building, part of the School of GeoSciences. Liz’s cake features the real-world, sitting on a geological base, overlain by raster layers representing elevation, land-use and the risk of attack by a killer rabbit!

The winning entry was judged on taste with extra marks awarded for research-related themes! Those sampling the cake donated generously to a local food bank, which benefited to the tune of £300.

Neil Stuart, one of the core team contributing to the GIS Masters programme in Edinburgh said “I had heard of Liz’s creativity with cakes, but this was…

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