EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Dr. Ruth Swetnam

July 17, 2014 Leave a comment

The EEO/AGI seminar on the 9th May was presented by Dr Ruth Swetnam from Staffordshire University. The presentation was titled “Quantifying cultural ecosystem services provided by the landscapes of Wales”. The project looks at adapting current ecosystem services workflows from dealing with quantitative objects to focussing on more qualitative elements of the world. Through this it hopes to be able to quantify the effectiveness of current Welsh Government spending on preserving and improving the Welsh countryside through the Glastir program.

The project is funded by the Welsh Government and builds on existing work done by Natural Resources Wales, The Countryside Survey and The Historic Environment records of the Welsh Archaeological Trusts.

The aims of the project are to:
 • Assess the quality of the landscape through the selection of certain criteria
 • To quantify the visual accessibility of the landscapes from the Welsh Right of Way network.
 • To quantify the amount of historic assets and their condition within the landscape
 • To quantify how the environment and the assets within it are changing over time due to Welsh government schemes and policies.

In order to accomplish these aims Wales was split up into a grid made up of 1km2 squares. From this grid 45 squares where chosen at random, with another 45 chosen in priority areas of the country. These squares where then surveyed in-depth. The 1km2 areas where then broken down into smaller 250m2 areas which then placed into an unweighted index, called the Visual Quality Index (VQI). This index attempts to quantify the key components of a landscape and allow a value to be assigned to it. This index was created in order to satisfy the requirements of a multitude of interest groups as well as take input from the general public.

The second stage of the methodology of the project was to look at how accessible the surveyed 1km2 areas are. This was done by carrying out a multi-criteria viewshed analysis from multiple points along the Welsh Right of Way network. This analysis took into account visual barriers such as fences, trees and buildings as well as the underlying terrain through the use of DTMs. This viewshed analysis was then combined with the VQI. This has the potential to both help direct the government initiative towards more accessible areas as well as allow the Welsh Government to improve the route network.

The project itself has great potential for further work in the future such as looking at overall accessibility from urban centres as well as allowing further refinements to the VQI. However, even without these refinements it is already an impressive first step at assessing value for money in Government projects.

Sandy Avery
 (MSc in GIS at the University of Edinburgh)

Categories: Uncategorized

Present your work at AGI GeoCom Annual Conference

June 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Time is running out to take your place as a speaker at the AGI GeoCom Conference. The deadline to put yourself forward to present is 30 June 2014.AGI Geo the Big Five

This year, the annual event will be held at Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire
from 11-13 November
. A revamped format in addition to the celebration of the AGI’s 25th Anniversary will ensure that this year GeoCom continues to be a must-attend event for everyone with an interest in geographic information.

There has been great representation from Scotland at previous events, with Iain Langlands being awarded Best Paper for his presentation on Glasgow’s Future City project last year. Since winning the award, Iain has been invited to speak at the GeoSpatial World Forum in Geneva in addition to boosting the profile of the work externally and internally.

Submitting your presentation idea is very straightforward, there are details here:

Attending as a speaker offers a great opportunity to showcase your work, excellent networking opportunities in addition to receiving a discounted attendance rate.

The AGI Scotland Committee very much encourage Scottish members to consider presenting their work and continuing to assist us in demonstrating the range of applications of GI happening north of the border. Don’t leave it too late to submit your idea!



Categories: Events

AGI(S)/EEO Seminar “AirMOSS and Its Role in Responding to Grand Challenges of Climate Research: Sensing Surface-to-Root-Zone Soil Moisture Profiles”

May 12, 2014 Leave a comment

eeo_logo13This week’s special extra EEO-AGI(S) Seminar will be given by Prof. Mahta Moghaddam of the University of Southern California.

NB The *lunchtime* seminar will take place THIS Friday 16th May at *12 noon* in the Old Library, Geography Building, Univ. of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP.

We are also working on our programme for next year and hope to have another series of varied, but timely and relevant seminars of interest to as many as possible lined up very soon.  Keep an eye on the website for updates.

Categories: Events

AGI(S) EEO Seminar: “Quantifying cultural ecosystem services provided by the landscapes of Wales”

eeo_logo13This week’s final scheduled EEO-AGI(S) seminar for 2013-14 will be given by Dr. Ruth Swetnam of Staffordshire University.

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

Plus: *Extra Seminar* – Fri 16th May 12 noon – NB Change of time

While today sees the final official seminar of this year’s programme we also have a special extra lunchtime seminar next week from Prof. Mahta Moghaddam of the University of Southern California on Friday 16th.

This will be held in the Old Library as usual but from 12 noon.

Also a reminder that following all regular EEO-AGI(S) afternoon 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: Uncategorized

AGI, RSGS introduce the next generation to GI

April 28, 2014 Leave a comment

AGIAs part of an ongoing initiative to forge links between education and industry, last month’s AGI ‘Big 5′ event in Glasgow was attended by 20 secondary school pupils from Douglas Academy in Milngavie.

The school group was invited to the event as part of a collaboration between AGI Scotland and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society to develop links between education and industry.

AGI volunteers Abigail Page and Val Marlowe, along with RSGS Education Convenor Erica Caldwell and AGI/RSGS Vice Chair Bruce Gittings, organised the day’s programme with the generous cooperation of several industry and academic professionals. We aimed to give the Higher and Advanced Higher geography pupils an overview of the breadth of applications for geographic information, the prospects for employment in this flourishing sector, and the exciting developments within GI as a vital component of initiatives such as the Future Cities protocol.

iainstuartMeeting figures from academia and industry provided a valuable opportunity for young people to learn more about the scope in geographic information as a career as well as a unique opportunity to speak with RSGS President and TV personality Iain Stewart.

Erica Caldwell said “This was a particularly innovative event – it opened the eyes of young
geographers to new aspects and applications of Geography which could link to an exciting range of possible careers.”

While conference delegates attended the morning presentations, the Higher and Advanced Higher Geography pupils made their way to the University of Glasgow. They were welcomed to the University Library’s map collection by John Moore, College Librarian and an expert on early Scottish maps and mapmaking.

Along with teachers David Rowlands and Laura Johnston, the school group were given a presentation on historical mapping – with a focus on the Glasgow area relevant to their school projects – through to relatively modern examples of cartography and present day online resources.

AGI and RSGS members welcomed the group to the magnificent surroundings of Glasgow City Chambers, where Bruce Gittings introduced the current GI industry and stressed its importance as a fast growing employment sector for graduate geographers. The pupils were encouraged to share their ideas for further study and career aspirations, and asked to consider how GI could play a part in these as the afternoon progressed.

A series of short talks were given by commercial organisations and sponsors (ESRI UK, Ordnance Survey, Landmark UK, and thinkWhere) describing and demonstrating how maps and data are currently used by the GI industry in a wide range of applications from habitat management to organising disaster relief operations. We’re grateful to all of the exhibitors and sponsors who were happy to answer many questions from the pupils. Particular thanks are due to Ian Holt from Ordnance Survey who prepared a comprehensive 20 minute talk complete with slides and videos on very short notice, looking at the public perception of mapping, and the use of spatial data products from OS Open Data to open source and crowd sourced applications such as the OSM mapping of Haiti and Map Kibera project.

The highlight of the day for the pupils had to be a personal presentation by Professor Iain Stewart, who gave a wide-ranging and interactive talk – finding out the pupils’ interests, encouraging them in their study of geography, making the links with future career prospects, and conveying his fascination with the subject and passion for conveying that knowledge to non-expert audiences.

Questions and answers covered topics from the geological development of the local area, the provenance of the marble surrounding us in the City Chambers, the best place on earth to film, and just how you jump into the Victoria Falls!

Following the talk Professor Stewart chatted informally with pupils and teachers, and was happy to feature in a number of selfies taken by the pupils. Shortly afterwards the students joined the 170 conference delegates to hear Professor Stewart’s closing presentation where he emphasised the importance of understanding the past lives of cities in the development of future cities.

Speaking afterwards, Iain said “This is exactly what RSGS should be doing – mapping out the future for young geographers”

We were delighted at the success of the visit, and the unanimously positive feedback from all involved.

Principal Teacher of Geography David Rowlands said “…the pupils (and staff!) had a great time – both at the university and at the conference – and some pupils have even said that they’d like a job working with GIS now!”

We’d like to thank everyone who generously contributed their time and expertise to make the day inspiring and memorable for the pupils. Please feel free to contact us with any enquiries and ideas for future events.



Categories: AGI Scotland, Events

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Dr. Humphrey Southall

April 14, 2014 Leave a comment

The penultimate EEO-AGI seminar of the academic year, entitled ‘PastPlace: Rethinking Gazetteers for the Semantic Web’ was given by Dr. Humphrey Southall of the University of Portsmouth. His talk focused on the development of PastPlace, a global historical linked gazetteer created as part of the Great Britain Historical GIS research project based in the University of Portsmouth’s Geography department. The creation of PastPlace required what Dr. Southall described as a geo-semantic approach; history is about texts, not maps. Up until the 18th century there were almost no maps, and those which do exist can be difficult to interpret and digitise today. Furthermore, historical textual descriptions are often more accurate than other attempts to describe geography at the time. Itineraries and gazetteers are the main sources of information containing placenames.

Dr. Southall noted that a historical gazetteer differs to modern gazetteers in that they require references to places from various sources and time periods to be linked to one place, they must allow for uncertainties in geographical knowledge of the past and, in addition to the location of a place, should tell the user what places were like. However, as it was not possible to build PastPlace from scratch, it was necessary to use an existing modern gazetteer to form its core. A number of gazetteers were considered for this purpose. Ultimately, it was decided that Wikidata, a major geographical resource which integrates Wikipedia articles in different languages, would form the basis of the historical gazetteer. Pelagios 3 also forms the basis of PastPlace. This is a two year project which aims to annotate, link and index place references in digitised early geospatial documents, such as geographic descriptions and world maps, which originate prior to the European discovery of the Americas in 1492. The Portsmouth team aim to augment PastPlace with contemporary and historic settlements extracted from open gazetteers, such as the Gazetteer of the World. The team also plan to create a historical base map server, a gazetteer web mapping application and website and a program which generates a dump including the sources of information for each location. An API which allows the user to search the database of historical information has already been created.

Dr Southall concluded the seminar by noting that geo-semantic methods are generally inferior to geo-spatial methods, but are necessary in cases such as this when textual descriptions are all that is available and old maps which do exist tend to be inaccurate. Further information about PastPlace and access to the API can be found at

Caroline Broughton
(MSc in GIS at the University of Edinburgh)

Categories: Uncategorized

FME World Tour date in Edinburgh

April 6, 2014 Leave a comment

fme1Spatial and FME developers, Safe Software, have announced a ‘World Tour’ date in Edinburgh: 15 May at Dynamic Earth.

The event will include:

  • the new capabilities in FME 2014 and how these can help your workflows
  • opportunities to build your FME skills through how-to and best practice sessions
  • tips and practical new ideas via presentations from FME users
  • technical assistance from FME Certified Professionals
  • and an opportunity to network with FME users from other organisations and the wider FME Community

For more details check out the 1Spatial FME World Tour web page.

Categories: Events

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