In Celebration of Peter Hall

Peter-Reading

Many will know that the world’s greatest planning academic passed away yesterday after a short illness. He was a great friend of CASA convincing me to come and run it in 1995 and doing much to establish and support what we continue to do: in building a science of cities. I will not eulogise Peter’s achievements but simply make this acknowledgement of his great impact. He was my mentor at Reading University in the late 1960s and 1970s where I was a lecturer (in Geography) and he the Professor. He got us all started in 1969 when he won a grant from the Centre for Environmental Studies to build land use transport models, thus nurturing a small community of scholars and practitioners that is still in existence and whose influence is slowly but surely increasing. I was fortunate that he appointed me as a research assistant to this grant in 1969 and much of what we do now in CASA emanates from those days. The picture above was taken two years ago when we celebrated his 80th birthday with a festschrift conference. Dave Foot and Erlet Cater are in the picture and they were key to our work on early land use transport models in those golden years which marked the 1960s

I have blogged the picture of the cake that was baked for Peter’s 80th birthday before but here it is again: in the image of Ebenezer Howard’s Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Reform.

PHCakeAnd those wishing to read the festschrift – the book that was produced for him to celebrate his career should get hold of a copy of the book

planning-img

 

Mapped: Journeys to Work

journey_to_work_web

Today the Office for National Statistics released the long awaited journey to work data collected by the 2011 Census in England and Wales. Here it is in all its glory. En masse you can really see the dominance of London in the South East as well as the likes of Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham further north. If you want to pick out specific flows between areas you can use our “Commute.DataShine” tool developed by Oliver O’Brien.

Mapped: Journeys to Work

journey_to_work_web

Today the Office for National Statistics released the long awaited journey to work data collected by the 2011 Census in England and Wales. Here it is in all its glory. En masse you can really see the dominance of London in the South East as well as the likes of Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham further north. If you want to pick out specific flows between areas you can use our “Commute.DataShine” tool developed by Oliver O’Brien.

From the ‘iPhone effect’ to the ‘virtual hug’: Is technology restricting or increasing our empathy?

Faced with a vast array of choice when it comes to interacting with those around us, our favoured communication medium will often be the simplest, quickest and most immediately available. But as technology continually develops, the impact of modern communication tools on the quality and depth of interpersonal exchange is increasingly the subject of scrutiny. Further, it remains unclear what increased digital interaction will mean for our social relationships. Of course, for some types of interactions we may actively seek out the least empathic means of communication. Text, email and socialmedia are popular means for initiating breakups in intimate relationships; they are simple, allow for a clear message, and importantly, avoid the empathic strain that comes from seeing the consequence of your words face-to-face. Yet for those relationships we want to maintain, the affective impact of our chosen communication method is worth considering.

Break-ups via social media avoid the sharing of empathy associated with visual cues

Break-ups via social media avoid the sharing of empathy associated with visual cues

The social presence theory, introduced by Short, Williams and Christie (1976), argues that the fewer the number of ‘cue systems’ in a communication method, the less ‘warmth and involvement’ users typically feel. This means that as the method of communication used becomes more distanced from ‘fully cued’ face-to-face interaction, the level of empathy felt between users reduces. Applied to computer-mediated communication (CMC), this would imply that video-based interaction would lend itself to greater empathic connection than just voice capabilities, which in turn would be emotionally stronger than just text. As a case-in-point, business executives commonly prefer to make important deals in a face-to-face environment instead of via any digital means; it allows for more opportunity to read and respond to the body language of the other party.

What is more, it is not just the explicit use of technology that impacts the quality of interpersonal conversation. The ‘iPhone effect’ is a commonly recognised problem, occurring when one person looking at their phone in a social environment has a contagious, anti-social effect, ultimately ending all conversation and eye contact. Indeed, even the symbolic nature of a mobile phone appears to be enough to reduce the quality of face-to-face interactions; research has found that the presence of a mobile phone, even when it does not belong to either party, reduces the empathy reportedly felt between two face-to-face communicators. This finding is attributed to a diversion of attention from the immediate exchange towards an item which symbolises instant information and hyper-connectivity, and makes individuals more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions and vocal inclinations. Thus, the social presence theory has explanatory power, and intuitively has merit.

However, the huge popularity of online forums, virtual games and online relationships indicate that in some contexts, digital methods may too lend themselves to the expression of empathy. The hyperpersonal model of CMC, introduced by Joseph Walther, proposes a set of processes to explain how CMC may create an environment where digital text-based communication lends itself to greater desirability and intimacy than equivalent offline interactions. Walther’s model outlines four components that contribute to the process: overattributions of recipient similarity; selective self-presentation and disclosure; thoughtful and reflective message construction; and the idealised impressions of others we interact with.

The anonymity that comes from text-based online communication creates a different dynamic for exchanges. In an anonymous environment, users can feel liberated from judgement on their words. Whilst personal profiles on social networks remain ever popular, giving an opportunity to present the individual in whichever way they choose, there has been a trend towards the use of anonymous social media, with the anonymous sharing apps ‘Whisper’ and ‘Pencourage’, dubbed the ‘anti-social real life Facebook’ attracting millions of users. The anonymity that is provided in online communities can facilitate deep, empathic connections, as it allows people to disclose more than they feel they would be able to in real life. This is attributed to reduced vulnerability, where what you may say or do online cannot be associated with the rest of your (offline) life. People do not have to worry about their non-verbal cues when typing a message; the fear of not using the right words, or losing control of ones emotions when speaking, is gone. This process may be particularly prevalent in online support communities, for example cancer support groups, which have been the subject of extensive research into how sensitive online messages are expressed and received.

Yet this anonymity does have a dark side. While the online disinhibition effect in some instances creates an environment for openness and support, the anonymity also lends itself to cyberbullying. ‘Yik Yak’, a localised anonymous sharing app, facilitated cyberbullying in high schools to such a degree that the creators had to respond by geofencing schools so the app could not be accessed on the premises. The mask of anonymity creates an environment where individuals don’t have to own their behaviour and it can be kept entirely separate from their offline identity. There are no repercussions for behaviour, and no clear authority. In addition, users are distanced from seeing the offline reactions to their online behaviour, creating an illusion that the two worlds are separate.

Online anonymity permits freedom to express oneself with no offline repercussions

Online anonymity permits freedom to express oneself with no offline repercussions

For better or for worse, digital communication is here to stay. Constantly developing technology allows for ever-changing methods of interaction with close friends and strangers alike, with huge potential for both increasingly life-like digital interactions and more creative text-based communication – but are these developments necessary to enhance communicative empathy? The dichotomy between the virtues and vices of digitised anonymity tends to sway to one side or the other depending on the context in which anonymity is afforded. The market for increasing empathy in digital interactions is clearly expanding, with more and more social cues being made possible via digital links. The idea of the ‘virtual hug’ has been popular in internet chatrooms for decades; now technology is making this a reality, with devices such as the Kickstarter project ‘Frebble’, a handheld accessory which allows two users to ‘hold hands’ regardless of their physical distance, now on the scene. In these cases, decreased anonymity is the goal. However, it should not be forgotten that there are some situations in which anonymity works positively for the expression of empathy, facilitating deeper disclosure on sensitive topics, where digital disinhibition is critical.

The post From the ‘iPhone effect’ to the ‘virtual hug’: Is technology restricting or increasing our empathy? appeared first on CEDE.

From the ‘iPhone effect’ to the ‘virtual hug’: Is technology restricting or increasing our empathy?

Faced with a vast array of choice when it comes to interacting with those around us, our favoured communication medium will often be the simplest, quickest and most immediately available. But as technology continually develops, the impact of modern communication tools on the quality and depth of interpersonal exchange is increasingly the subject of scrutiny. Further, it remains unclear what increased digital interaction will mean for our social relationships. Of course, for some types of interactions we may actively seek out the least empathic means of communication. Text, email and socialmedia are popular means for initiating breakups in intimate relationships; they are simple, allow for a clear message, and importantly, avoid the empathic strain that comes from seeing the consequence of your words face-to-face. Yet for those relationships we want to maintain, the affective impact of our chosen communication method is worth considering.

Break-ups via social media avoid the sharing of empathy associated with visual cues

Break-ups via social media avoid the sharing of empathy associated with visual cues

The social presence theory, introduced by Short, Williams and Christie (1976), argues that the fewer the number of ‘cue systems’ in a communication method, the less ‘warmth and involvement’ users typically feel. This means that as the method of communication used becomes more distanced from ‘fully cued’ face-to-face interaction, the level of empathy felt between users reduces. Applied to computer-mediated communication (CMC), this would imply that video-based interaction would lend itself to greater empathic connection than just voice capabilities, which in turn would be emotionally stronger than just text. As a case-in-point, business executives commonly prefer to make important deals in a face-to-face environment instead of via any digital means; it allows for more opportunity to read and respond to the body language of the other party.

What is more, it is not just the explicit use of technology that impacts the quality of interpersonal conversation. The ‘iPhone effect’ is a commonly recognised problem, occurring when one person looking at their phone in a social environment has a contagious, anti-social effect, ultimately ending all conversation and eye contact. Indeed, even the symbolic nature of a mobile phone appears to be enough to reduce the quality of face-to-face interactions; research has found that the presence of a mobile phone, even when it does not belong to either party, reduces the empathy reportedly felt between two face-to-face communicators. This finding is attributed to a diversion of attention from the immediate exchange towards an item which symbolises instant information and hyper-connectivity, and makes individuals more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions and vocal inclinations. Thus, the social presence theory has explanatory power, and intuitively has merit.

However, the huge popularity of online forums, virtual games and online relationships indicate that in some contexts, digital methods may too lend themselves to the expression of empathy. The hyperpersonal model of CMC, introduced by Joseph Walther, proposes a set of processes to explain how CMC may create an environment where digital text-based communication lends itself to greater desirability and intimacy than equivalent offline interactions. Walther’s model outlines four components that contribute to the process: overattributions of recipient similarity; selective self-presentation and disclosure; thoughtful and reflective message construction; and the idealised impressions of others we interact with.

The anonymity that comes from text-based online communication creates a different dynamic for exchanges. In an anonymous environment, users can feel liberated from judgement on their words. Whilst personal profiles on social networks remain ever popular, giving an opportunity to present the individual in whichever way they choose, there has been a trend towards the use of anonymous social media, with the anonymous sharing apps ‘Whisper’ and ‘Pencourage’, dubbed the ‘anti-social real life Facebook’ attracting millions of users. The anonymity that is provided in online communities can facilitate deep, empathic connections, as it allows people to disclose more than they feel they would be able to in real life. This is attributed to reduced vulnerability, where what you may say or do online cannot be associated with the rest of your (offline) life. People do not have to worry about their non-verbal cues when typing a message; the fear of not using the right words, or losing control of ones emotions when speaking, is gone. This process may be particularly prevalent in online support communities, for example cancer support groups, which have been the subject of extensive research into how sensitive online messages are expressed and received.

Yet this anonymity does have a dark side. While the online disinhibition effect in some instances creates an environment for openness and support, the anonymity also lends itself to cyberbullying. ‘Yik Yak’, a localised anonymous sharing app, facilitated cyberbullying in high schools to such a degree that the creators had to respond by geofencing schools so the app could not be accessed on the premises. The mask of anonymity creates an environment where individuals don’t have to own their behaviour and it can be kept entirely separate from their offline identity. There are no repercussions for behaviour, and no clear authority. In addition, users are distanced from seeing the offline reactions to their online behaviour, creating an illusion that the two worlds are separate.

Online anonymity permits freedom to express oneself with no offline repercussions

Online anonymity permits freedom to express oneself with no offline repercussions

For better or for worse, digital communication is here to stay. Constantly developing technology allows for ever-changing methods of interaction with close friends and strangers alike, with huge potential for both increasingly life-like digital interactions and more creative text-based communication – but are these developments necessary to enhance communicative empathy? The dichotomy between the virtues and vices of digitised anonymity tends to sway to one side or the other depending on the context in which anonymity is afforded. The market for increasing empathy in digital interactions is clearly expanding, with more and more social cues being made possible via digital links. The idea of the ‘virtual hug’ has been popular in internet chatrooms for decades; now technology is making this a reality, with devices such as the Kickstarter project ‘Frebble’, a handheld accessory which allows two users to ‘hold hands’ regardless of their physical distance, now on the scene. In these cases, decreased anonymity is the goal. However, it should not be forgotten that there are some situations in which anonymity works positively for the expression of empathy, facilitating deeper disclosure on sensitive topics, where digital disinhibition is critical.

The post From the ‘iPhone effect’ to the ‘virtual hug’: Is technology restricting or increasing our empathy? appeared first on CEDE.

London Words

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 15.46.02

Above is a Wordle of the messages displayed on the big dot-matrix displays (aka variable message signs) that sit beside major roads in London, over the last couple of months. The larger the word, the more often it is shown on the screens.

The data comes from Transport for London via their Open Data Users platform, through CityDashboard‘s API. We now store some of the data behind CityDashboard, for London and some other cities, for future analysis into key words and numbers for urban informatics.

Below, as another Wordle, are the top words used in tweets from certain London-centric Twitter accounts – those from London-focused newspapers and media organisations, tourism organisations and key London commentators. Common English words (e.g. to, and) are removed. I’ve also removed “London”, “RT” and “amp”.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 15.56.57

Some common words include: police, tickets, City, crash, Boris, Thames, Park, Festival, Bridge, bus, Kids.

Finally, here’s the notes that OpenStreetMap editors use when they commit changes to the open, user-created map of the world, for the London area:

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 16.10.50

Transport and buildings remain a major focus of the voluntary work on completing and maintaining London’s map, that contributors are carrying out.

There is no significance to the colours used in the graphics above. Wordle is a quick-and-dirty way to visualise data like this, we are looking at more sophisticated, and “fairer” methods, as part of ongoing research.

This work is preparatory work for the Big Data and Urban Informatics workshop in Chicago later this summer.

Thanks to Steve and the Big Data Toolkit, which was used in the collection of the Twitter data for CityDashboard.

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High quality lithographic prints of London data, designed by Oliver O'Brien
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London North/South

The 2011 Area Classification for Output Areas

The 2011 Area Classification for Output Areas (2011 Output Area Classification or 2011 OAC) was released by the Office for National Statistics at 9.30am on the 18th July 2014.

Documentation, downloads and other information regarding the 2011 OAC are available from the official ONS webpage: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/geography/products/area-classifications/ns-area-classifications/ns-2011-area-classifications/index.html.

Further information and a larger array of 2011 OAC resources can also be found at http://www.opengeodemographics.com.

Additionally, an interactive map of the 2011 OAC is available at http://public.cdrc.ac.uk.

For the 2011 release it has been agreed that a less centralised version of the OAC User Group will be beneficial. The new home of the OAC User Group is located at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111157299976084744069 and enables a more decentralised way of organising meetings / events or accessing supporting materials. If you have any questions or comments regarding the classification then this is the place to visit.

This means areaclassification.org.uk will no longer be maintained. There will be no future posts and no upkeep of links or other materials currently available. Any bookmarks you have for this page should be redirected to http://www.opengeodemographics.com

Temporal OAC

As part of an ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative grant Michail Pavlis, Paul Longley and I have been working on developing methods by which temporal patterns of geodemographic change can be modelled.

Much of this work has been focused on census based classifications, such as the 2001 Output Area Classification (OAC), and the 2011 OAC released today. We have been particularly interested in examining methods by which secondary data might be used to create measures enabling the screening of small areas over time as uncertainty builds as a result of residential structure change. The writeup of this work is currently out for review, however, we have placed the census based classification created for the years 2001 - 2011 on the new public.cdrc.ac.uk website, along with a change measure.

Some findings

  • 8 Clusters were found to be of greatest utility for the description of OA change between 2001 and 2011 and included
    • Cluster 1- "Suburban Diversity"
    • Cluster 2- "Ethnicity Central"
    • Cluster 3- "Intermediate Areas"
    • Cluster 4- "Students and Aspiring Professionals"
    • Cluster 5- "County Living and Retirement"
    • Cluster 6- "Blue-collar Suburbanites"
    • Cluster 7- "Professional Prosperity"
    • Cluster 8 – "Hard-up Households"

A map of the clusters in 2001 and 2011 for Leeds are as follows:

  • The changing cluster assignment between 2001 and 2011 reflected
    • Developing "Suburban Diversity"
    • Gentrification of central areas, leading to growing "Students and Aspiring Professionals"
    • Regional variations
      • "Ethnicity Central" more stable between 2001 and 2011 in the South East and London, than in the North West and North East, perhaps reflecting differing structural changes in central areas (e.g. gentrification)
      • "Hard-up Households” are more stable in the North West and North East than the South East or London; South East, and acutely so in London, flows were predominantly towards “Suburban Diversity”

Google’s 3D London gets better

We woke this morning to find Google has made some improvements to its 3D model of London in Google Earth. All the city’s buildings are now based on 45-degree aerial imagery, which should mean a marked improvement in accuracy of building shapes. So how much has it improved?

Firstly to compare the new Google London against an earlier version of itself, here are screenshots of the British Museum:

2010

British_Museum_GE_2010

2014

British_Museum_GE_2014

A mixed improvement. The computer game-style model of 2010 (I believe partly the product of crowdsourced individual 3D building models) is replaced by a continuous meshed surface. But as Apple found two years ago (embarrassingly) this method is prone to the inclusion of errors and artefacts – the BM’s roof is a big improvement, but its columns are now wonky and the complex shapes in the neighbouring rooftops are a bit messy. But we should recognised that this is an inevitable consequence of the shift to a more fully automated process – presumably the constraints on data size and processing power limit result in a trade-off between its resolution and accuracy. But to remedy this there seems to have been some manual correction to parts of the model – e.g. the London Eye looks touched up (despite some tree-coloured spokes):

London Eye

To compare the model with its main competitor, Apple Maps I’ve done a few screenshots, firstly

St Paul’s Cathedral

Google Earth

St_Pauls_GE

Apple Maps

St_Pauls_Apple

Google’s far superior St Paul’s again suggests manual correction or, possibly, their retention of the original model.

10 Downing Street

For anyone who hasn’t been there (author included) this is Mr Cameron’s back garden.

Google

No.10_GE

Apple

No.10_Apple

Apple have clearly done a better job on the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury. The contrast and brightness make for a much clearer and realistic depiction, partly due to Apple’s higher resolution and partly because the time of day of Google’s survey meant more shadows.

Center Point

Chosen because Google are unlikely to have manicured a building site. As you can see Google still have some work to equal Apple’s resolution.

Google

Center_Point_GE

Apple

Center_Point_Apple

Buckingham Palace

Last but not least, the house of someone called Elizabeth Windsor who judging by Google’s model likes to have receptions in her expansive back garden.

Google

Palace_GE

Apple

Palace_Apple

Overall I think it’s fair to say a necessary improvement by Google but still very much work-in-progress. It is worth mentioning that Google provides a more move immersive environment (the interface lets the camera go lower and to angle horizontally) whereas Apple’s feel like a diorama (e.g. no sky), albeit one that interacts much more smoothly. And of course Google Earth is much more than just a 3D map. But given their better resolution and seeming clarity of imagery in my opinion Apple keeps the crown for best 3D model.

CASA at the Research Methods Festival 2014

As you can see from the image below, we spent three days at the NCRM Research Methods Festival in Oxford (#RMF14) last week.

RMF2014_1

In addition to our presentations in the “Researching the City” session on the Wednesday morning, we were also running a Smart Cities exhibition throughout the festival showcasing how the research has been used to create live visualisations of a city. This included the now famous “Pigeon Simulator”, which allows people to fly around London and is always very popular. The “About CASA” screen on the right of the picture above showed a continuous movie loop of some of CASA’s work.

RMF2014_3

The exhibition was certainly very busy during the coffee breaks and, as always at these types of events, we had some very interesting conversations with people about the exhibits. One discussion with a lawyer about issues around anonymisation of Big Datasets and how you can’t do it in practice made me think about the huge amount of information that we have access to and what we can do with it. Also, the Oculus Rift 3D headset was very popular and over the three days we answered a lot of questions from psychology researchers about the kinds of experiments you could do with this type of device. The interesting thing is that people trying out the Oculus Rift for the first time tended to fall into one of three categories: can’t see the 3D at all, see 3D but with limited effect, or very vivid 3D experience with loss of balance. Personally, I think it’s part psychology and part eye-sight.

Next time I must remember to take pictures when there are people around, but the sweets box got down to 2 inches from the bottom, so it seems to have been quite popular.

RMF2014_4

 

 

We had to get new Lego police cars for the London Riots Table (right), but the tactile nature of the Roving Eye exhibit (white table on the left) never fails to be popular. I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve spent demonstrating this, but people always seem to go from “this is rubbish, pedestrians don’t behave like that”, through to “OK, now I get it, that’s really quite good”. The 3D printed houses also add an element of urban planning that wasn’t there when we used boxes wrapped in brown paper.

RMF2014_2

The iPad wall is shown on the left here with the London Data Table on the right. Both show a mix of real-time visualisation and archive animations. The “Bombs dropped during the Blitz” visualisation on the London Data Table which was created by Kate Jones (http://bombsight.org ) was very popular, as was the London Riots movie by Martin Austwick.

All in all, I think we had a fairly good footfall despite the sunshine, live Jazz band and wine reception.

 

 

 

Vespucci Institute on citizen science and VGI

The Vespucci initiative has been running for over a decade, bringing together participants from wide range of academic backgrounds and experiences to explore, in a ‘slow learning’ way, various aspects of geographic information science research. The Vespucci Summer Institutes are week long summer schools, most frequently held at Fiesole, a small town overlooking Florence. This year, the focus of the first summer institute was on crowdsourced geographic information and citizen science.

101_0083The workshop was supported by COST ENERGIC (a network that links researchers in the area of crowdsourced geographic information, funded by the EU research programme), the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC), Esri and our Extreme Citizen Science research group. The summer school included about 30 participants and facilitators that ranged from master students students that are about to start their PhD studies, to established professors who came to learn and share knowledge. This is a common feature of Vespucci Institute, and the funding from the COST network allowed more early career researchers to participate.

Apart from the pleasant surrounding, Vespucci Institutes are characterised by the relaxed, yet detailed discussions that can be carried over long lunches and coffee breaks, as well as team work in small groups on a task that each group present at the end of the week. Moreover, the programme is very flexible so changes and adaptation to the requests of the participants and responding to the general progression of the learning are part of the process.

This is the second time that I am participating in Vespucci Institutes as a facilitator, and in both cases it was clear that participants take the goals of the institute seriously, and make the most of the opportunities to learn about the topics that are explored, explore issues in depth with the facilitators, and work with their groups beyond the timetable.

101_0090The topics that were covered in the school were designed to provide an holistic overview of geographical crowdsourcing or citizen science projects, especially in the area where these two types of activities meet. This can be when a group of citizens want to collect and analyse data about local environmental concerns, or oceanographers want to work with divers to record water temperature, or when details that are emerging from social media are used to understand cultural differences in the understanding of border areas. These are all examples that were suggested by participants from projects that they are involved in. In addition, citizen participation in flood monitoring and water catchment management, sharing information about local food and exploring data quality of spatial information that can be used by wheelchair users also came up in the discussion. The crossover between the two areas provided a common ground for the participants to explore issues that are relevant to their research interests. 

2014-07-07 15.37.55The holistic aspect that was mentioned before was a major goal for the school – so to consider the tools that are used to collect information, engaging and working with the participants, managing the data that is provided by the participants and ensuring that it is useful for other purposes. To start the process, after introducing the topics of citizen science and volunteered geographic information (VGI), the participants learned about data collection activities, including noise mapping, OpenStreetMap contribution, bird watching and balloon and kite mapping. As can be expected, the balloon mapping raised a lot of interest and excitement, and this exercise in local mapping was linked to OpenStreetMap later in the week.

101_0061The experience with data collection provided the context for discussions about data management and interoperability and design aspects of citizen science applications, as well as more detailed presentations from the participants about their work and research interests. With all these details, the participants were ready to work on their group task: to suggest a research proposal in the area of VGI or Citizen Science. Each group of 5 participants explored the issues that they agreed on – 2 groups focused on a citizen science projects, another 2 focused on data management and sustainability and finally another group explored the area of perception mapping and more social science oriented project.

Some of the most interesting discussions were initiated at the request of the participants, such as the exploration of ethical aspects of crowdsourcing and citizen science. This is possible because of the flexibility in the programme.

Now that the institute is over, it is time to build on the connections that started during the wonderful week in Fiesole, and see how the network of Vespucci alumni develop the ideas that emerged this week.

 


From Oculus Rift to Facebook: finding money and data in the crowd – Times Higher Education


Times Higher Education

From Oculus Rift to Facebook: finding money and data in the crowd
Times Higher Education
Crowdsourcing could revolutionise the way scholarly research is funded and conducted over the next few years, an academic has suggested. Andy Hudson-Smith, director and deputy chair of the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University ...

New Paper: Assessing the impact of demographic characteristics on spatial error in VGI features

LISA analysis of positional accuracy for the OSM  data set
Building upon our interest in volunteered geographic information (VGI) and extending our previous paper  "Assessing Completeness and Spatial Error of Features in Volunteered Geographic Information" we have just published the paper with the rather long title "Assessing the impact of demographic characteristics on spatial error in volunteered geographic information features" where we explore how demographics impact on the quality of VGI data

Below is the abstract of the paper: 
The proliferation of volunteered geographic information (VGI), such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) enabled by technological advancements, has led to large volumes of user-generated geographical content. While this data is becoming widely used, the understanding of the quality characteristics of such data is still largely unexplored. An open research question is the relationship between demographic indicators and VGI quality. While earlier studies have suggested a potential relationship between VGI quality and population density or socio-economic characteristics of an area, such relationships have not been rigorously explored, and mainly remained qualitative in nature. This paper addresses this gap by quantifying the relationship between demographic properties of a given area and the quality of VGI contributions. We study specifically the demographic characteristics of the mapped area and its relation to two dimensions of spatial data quality, namely positional accuracy and completeness of the corresponding VGI contributions with respect to OSM using the Denver (Colorado, US) area as a case study. We use non-spatial and spatial analysis techniques to identify potential associations among demographics data and the distribution of positional and completeness errors found within VGI data. Generally, the results of our study show a lack of statistically significant support for the assumption that demographic properties affect the positional accuracy or completeness of VGI. While this research is focused on a specific area, our results showcase the complex nature of the relationship between VGI quality and demographics, and highlights the need for a better understanding of it. By doing so, we add to the debate of how demographics impact on the quality of VGI data and lays the foundation to further work.

The analysis workflow
Full Reference:
Mullen W., Jackson, S. P., Croitoru, A., Crooks, A. T., Stefanidis, A. and Agouris, P., (2014), Assessing the Impact of Demographic Characteristics on Spatial Error in Volunteered Geographic Information Features, GeoJournal. DOI: 10.1007/s10708-014-9564-8

New Paper: Assessing the impact of demographic characteristics on spatial error in VGI features

LISA analysis of positional accuracy for the OSM  data set
Building upon our interest in volunteered geographic information (VGI) and extending our previous paper  "Assessing Completeness and Spatial Error of Features in Volunteered Geographic Information" we have just published the paper with the rather long title "Assessing the impact of demographic characteristics on spatial error in volunteered geographic information features" where we explore how demographics impact on the quality of VGI data

Below is the abstract of the paper: 
The proliferation of volunteered geographic information (VGI), such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) enabled by technological advancements, has led to large volumes of user-generated geographical content. While this data is becoming widely used, the understanding of the quality characteristics of such data is still largely unexplored. An open research question is the relationship between demographic indicators and VGI quality. While earlier studies have suggested a potential relationship between VGI quality and population density or socio-economic characteristics of an area, such relationships have not been rigorously explored, and mainly remained qualitative in nature. This paper addresses this gap by quantifying the relationship between demographic properties of a given area and the quality of VGI contributions. We study specifically the demographic characteristics of the mapped area and its relation to two dimensions of spatial data quality, namely positional accuracy and completeness of the corresponding VGI contributions with respect to OSM using the Denver (Colorado, US) area as a case study. We use non-spatial and spatial analysis techniques to identify potential associations among demographics data and the distribution of positional and completeness errors found within VGI data. Generally, the results of our study show a lack of statistically significant support for the assumption that demographic properties affect the positional accuracy or completeness of VGI. While this research is focused on a specific area, our results showcase the complex nature of the relationship between VGI quality and demographics, and highlights the need for a better understanding of it. By doing so, we add to the debate of how demographics impact on the quality of VGI data and lays the foundation to further work.

The analysis workflow
Full Reference:
Mullen W., Jackson, S. P., Croitoru, A., Crooks, A. T., Stefanidis, A. and Agouris, P., (2014), Assessing the Impact of Demographic Characteristics on Spatial Error in Volunteered Geographic Information Features, GeoJournal. DOI: 10.1007/s10708-014-9564-8

New Paper: Assessing the impact of demographic characteristics on spatial error in VGI features

LISA analysis of positional accuracy for the OSM  data set
Building upon our interest in volunteered geographic information (VGI) and extending our previous paper  "Assessing Completeness and Spatial Error of Features in Volunteered Geographic Information" we have just published the paper with the rather long title "Assessing the impact of demographic characteristics on spatial error in volunteered geographic information features" where we explore how demographics impact on the quality of VGI data

Below is the abstract of the paper: 
The proliferation of volunteered geographic information (VGI), such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) enabled by technological advancements, has led to large volumes of user-generated geographical content. While this data is becoming widely used, the understanding of the quality characteristics of such data is still largely unexplored. An open research question is the relationship between demographic indicators and VGI quality. While earlier studies have suggested a potential relationship between VGI quality and population density or socio-economic characteristics of an area, such relationships have not been rigorously explored, and mainly remained qualitative in nature. This paper addresses this gap by quantifying the relationship between demographic properties of a given area and the quality of VGI contributions. We study specifically the demographic characteristics of the mapped area and its relation to two dimensions of spatial data quality, namely positional accuracy and completeness of the corresponding VGI contributions with respect to OSM using the Denver (Colorado, US) area as a case study. We use non-spatial and spatial analysis techniques to identify potential associations among demographics data and the distribution of positional and completeness errors found within VGI data. Generally, the results of our study show a lack of statistically significant support for the assumption that demographic properties affect the positional accuracy or completeness of VGI. While this research is focused on a specific area, our results showcase the complex nature of the relationship between VGI quality and demographics, and highlights the need for a better understanding of it. By doing so, we add to the debate of how demographics impact on the quality of VGI data and lays the foundation to further work.

The analysis workflow
Full Reference:
Mullen W., Jackson, S. P., Croitoru, A., Crooks, A. T., Stefanidis, A. and Agouris, P., (2014), Assessing the Impact of Demographic Characteristics on Spatial Error in Volunteered Geographic Information Features, GeoJournal. DOI: 10.1007/s10708-014-9564-8

Research Fellow Post at LSHTM

We are seeking to appoint a Research Fellow to work on an exciting project as part of a randomised controlled trial investigating the impact of living in the East Village (a neighbourhood based on active design principles in the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park) on physical activity and health.

The post is full-time for two years. The post will be based in the Healthy Environments Research Programme in the Department of Social and Environmental Health Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The post will suit a candidate with a strong background in social or environmental epidemiology, spatial analysis and/or quantitative health geography, especially in the field of neighbourhood built and social determinants of health. A higher degree (ideally PhD) in a relevant field is essential. Skills in quantitative data analysis using longitudinal and/or spatial approaches as well as some expertise in the using of GIS are desirable. The successful candidate will be required to collate, create and analyse secondary data on environmental exposures related to physical activity and other health behaviours and write up findings for peer-reviewed publication. The post is supervised by Professor Steven Cummins (steven.cummins@lshtm.ac.uk) and Dr Daniel Lewis (daniel.lewis@lshtm.ac.uk).

Closing date: 27th July 2014

https://jobs.lshtm.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=HERP01

Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are – Milton Keynes MKWeb


Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are
Milton Keynes MKWeb
The map was designed at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis by Oliver O'Brien, and goes by the name of DataShine. Recording religion - the most religious areas are shown in red - is far from the only thing this map can show, it also shows ...

and more »

Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are – Northampton Herald and Post


Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are
Northampton Herald and Post
A NEW interactive map will show you just how religious your neighbours are - and that's not all that it can do. The map was designed at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis by Oliver O'Brien, and goes by the name of DataShine. Recording religion ...

and more »

Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are – Bedfordshire News


Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are
Bedfordshire News
A NEW interactive map will show you just how religious your neighbours are - and that's not all that it can do. The map was designed at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis by Oliver O'Brien, and goes by the name of DataShine. Recording religion ...

and more »

Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are – Luton On Sunday


Interactive map will show you how religious your neighbours are
Luton On Sunday
A NEW interactive map will show you just how religious your neighbours are - and that's not all that it can do. The map was designed at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis by Oliver O'Brien, and goes by the name of DataShine. Recording religion ...

and more »

How religious are your neighbours? New interactive map of Britain can tell you… – Metro


Metro

How religious are your neighbours? New interactive map of Britain can tell you…
Metro
The map, called DataShine, was created by Oliver O'Brien at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and shows, among other things, the atheist hot-spots around the UK. Pulling data from a survey, that map was constructed to show areas where at least ...
How religious are your neighbours? New interactive map could tell youDerby Telegraph

all 2 news articles »

How religious are your neighbours? New interactive map could tell you – Derby Telegraph


Derby Telegraph

How religious are your neighbours? New interactive map could tell you
Derby Telegraph
A NEW map has been released which shows online visitors how religious different parts of the country are. Called DataShine, the map was created at University College London's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and shows the atheist and religious ...
How religious are your neighbours? New interactive map of Britain can tell you…Metro

all 2 news articles »

La UPM apuesta por los referentes en el diseño de la ciudad del futuro – elEconomista.es


La UPM apuesta por los referentes en el diseño de la ciudad del futuro
elEconomista.es
La presentación de la iniciativa contó con la intervención de Michale Batty, director del Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) del University College de Londres y autor entre otros de New Science of Cities, su última obra. Batty subrayó la ...

Ciudades del futuro: La UPM aborda el ecosistema urbano desde el principio – iAgua.es


Ciudades del futuro: La UPM aborda el ecosistema urbano desde el principio
iAgua.es
La presentación de la iniciativa contó con la intervención de Michale Batty, director del Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) del University College de Londres y autor entre otros de New Science of Cities, su última obra. Batty subrayó la ...

and more »

Where do atheists live? Maps show the ‘godless’ cities of England and Wales – The Guardian (blog)


Where do atheists live? Maps show the 'godless' cities of England and Wales
The Guardian (blog)
DataShine, a new census data visualisation tool from Oliver O'Brien at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, shows 'no religion' hotspots in Brighton, Bristol and Norwich; while Bradford and Leeds are clearly split and Liverpool keeps the faith.

No more busywork! DRY up your NSString constants

Preamble In the last few years, Objective-C has become enormously DRYer. For example: in the past, adding a property to a class meant adding several of: an ivar, a @property, a @synthesize, a getter/setter, and a release call in dealloc. Worse, renaming or deleting the property meant updating all these. This was error-prone busywork, and […]

No more busywork! DRY up your NSString constants

Preamble In the last few years, Objective-C has become enormously DRYer. For example: in the past, adding a property to a class meant adding several of: an ivar, a @property, a @synthesize, a getter/setter, and a release call in dealloc. Worse, renaming or deleting the property meant updating all these. This was error-prone busywork, and […]

Crowdsourced Geographic Information in Government

Today marks the publication of the report ‘crowdsourced geographic information in government‘. ReportThe report is the result of a collaboration that started in the autumn of last year, when the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery(GFDRR)  requested to carry out a study of the way crowdsourced geographic information is used by governments. The identification of barriers and success factors were especially needed, since GFDRR invest in projects across the world that use crowdsourced geographic information to help in disaster preparedness, through activities such as the Open Data for Resilience Initiative. By providing an overview of factors that can help those that implement such projects, either in governments or in the World Bank, we can increase the chances of successful implementations. To develop the ideas of the project, Robert Soden (GFDRR) and I run a short workshop during State of the Map 2013 in Birmingham, which helped in shaping the details of project plan as well as some preliminary information gathering. The project team included myself, Vyron Antoniou, Sofia Basiouka, and Robert Soden (GFDRR). Later on, Peter Mooney (NUIM) and Jamal Jokar (Heidelberg) volunteered to help us – demonstrating the value in research networks such as COST ENERGIC which linked us.

The general methodology that we decided to use is the identification of case studies from across the world, at different scales of government (national, regional, local) and domains (emergency, environmental monitoring, education). We expected that with a large group of case studies, it will be possible to analyse common patterns and hopefully reach conclusions that can assist future projects. In addition, this will also be able to identify common barriers and challenges.

We have paid special attention to information flows between the public and the government, looking at cases where the government absorbed information that provided by the public, and also cases where two-way communication happened.

Originally, we were aiming to ‘crowdsource’  the collection of the case studies. We identified the information that is needed for the analysis by using  few case studies that we knew about, and constructing the way in which they will be represented in the final report. After constructing these ‘seed’ case study, we aimed to open the questionnaire to other people who will submit case studies. Unfortunately, the development of a case study proved to be too much effort, and we received only a small number of submissions through the website. However, throughout the study we continued to look out for cases and get all the information so we can compile them. By the end of April 2014 we have identified about 35 cases, but found clear and useful information only for 29 (which are all described in the report).  The cases range from basic mapping to citizen science. The analysis workshop was especially interesting, as it was carried out over a long Skype call, with members of the team in Germany, Greece, UK, Ireland and US (Colorado) while working together using Google Docs collaborative editing functionality. This approach proved successful and allowed us to complete the report.

You can download the full report from UCL Discovery repository

Or download a high resolution copy for printing and find much more information about the project on the Crowdsourcing and government website 


Mapping Research on Urban Sustainability

Critique of Knowledge Production etched into sustainable bamboo

Critique of Knowledge Production etched into sustainable bamboo

In this guest post by anthropologist Charlotte Johnson, she discusses her perspectives on the PICKs project (published earlier this month in Sustainability: The Journal of Record and available open source).

When asked to ‘map all the research related to cities and resources at UCL’ my first thought was ‘eek’, and not just due to the overwhelming size of the task (UCL has a research body of over 4000 people). But from a critical perspective mapping can be an act of epistemic violence – what gets put on the map and why, who gets to decide on the parameters? For me, a map is an object fraught with imperial overtones not to mention the hubris in attempting to comprehensively represent an ever-shifting landscape.

Coming from background in social anthropology and geography, I’ve been trained to treat representations of communities with scepticism and to question whose interests they serve. My default position is to dig behind a map’s seductive simplifications and look for how power is consolidated via tools that define people through their practices and the territories they operate in.  But of course maps are useful things and, as any participatory planner will argue, they can be developed to serve the needs of a community, to empower groups rather than govern them.

Mapping research landscapes does seem like a good idea, particularly for an ever-more loosely delineated research field like urban sustainability and particularly in today’s universities – full of research collaborations and consultancies.  It’s not uncommon to go to a workshop at the other end of the country and meet a person from somewhere in your own campus. Or hear a conference talk précised with a confession that the presenter is moonlighting as an urban sociologist from their day job in chemical engineering. Research relevant to your interests might be happening in your vicinity, but can be hard to locate. Researchers may not be in the departments you expect them to be in, or may not be working on topics you’d imagined.  There’s a sense of uncertainty that you might be missing something crucial, or overlooking some radical collaboration because you’re unaware of them, or find it hard to position your research interests relative to others’.

These were the kind of issues that came out when I was interviewing UCL staff about whether they thought a sustainability research map might be useful and what they thought should be on it.  Through these discussions I understood the potential benefit of mapping to open up routes for collaboration.   But I was also open to the argument that ‘sustainability’ is now too broad to be a useful signifier of a research field, or worse, it hides within it normative assumptions about capitalist relations of production and economic growth.  As more and more research areas are drawn into the sustainability field, they can feed a pervasive acceptance that life as we live it today can and should be sustained and avoid questioning the power imbalances that are also sustained or the alternatives that are silenced. The mapping process also had to offer a way to critique this ever expanding territory of ‘sustainable cities research’ and draw out the range of critical positions relative to research on how cities use resources.

These interviews helped to shape an idea of a useful mapping tool, but importantly, also put me in touch with Martin at CASA, who luckily knows how to make map type visualisations. (He also came up with a name – PICKS or Post-dIsCplinary Knowledge Space – he plays fast and loose with capitalisation when it comes to acronyms).

Martin makes force graph visualisations – see his blog post here for more detailed description.  But for the non-programmers, his visualisations let you to create dynamic Venn diagrams helping you to identify people who are working on similar issues to yourself (you can have a go via this link here).  It lets you cluster your own cohort of researchers from across a university within the deinstitutionalised (or “post-disciplinary”) terrain of the map.

We decided to make the research issue the priority and the way to navigate the different types of work being done, but also to include different research perspectives.  So you can click the ‘water’ node and all the researchers with this interest are pulled out of the sea of sustainability researchers, regardless of whether they’re an artist, a biologist, or a civil engineer. But you can also click nodes related to the research approach, and tease out whether the research is using sustainability as a useful metric, or critiquing it as capitalist ‘greenwash’.

We’ve just had the paper we wrote about this process published, which you can read here.  It talks about how university research landscapes are changing as established knowledge hierarchies are challenged by the cross disciplinary collaborations assembled to tackle applied issues. We argue that mapping is a process that helps to document this change, and enable new collaborations and perhaps produce useful tools to support the new science collaborations needed for sustainability research and to create counter narratives.

The broader issue here is that traditional disciplinary boundaries aren’t really demarking the territories of expertise being deployed to tackle the urgent questions of climate change and urban resource use.  Mapping can be a process that helps reflect on this change, but also serve the scholars who are forging new research communities beyond the established and institutionalised parameters of academia.


Against the Smart City

adam-g

Absolutely the best thing to read on the corporate hype and innuendos from the big computer companies pedalling the idea of ‘the smart city’. Adam Greenfield’s new book – that you can only get on Kindle and which was my first Kindle purchase that I read on my iPad (a success I must say) – is a wonderful and eloquent essay on the extreme hype surrounding the top down new town-like smart cities of Songdo (in South Korea), Masdar (in the UAE), PlanIT Valley (near Paredes in Portugal). He also comments on Singapore, Rio de Janeiro and some of the other established cities who are injecting automation into their urban services and other functions from the top down. His message is that most of the smart cities hype associated with IBM, Cisco, and Siemens amongst others which he recounts in detail is based on the most simplistic of notions as to what a city actually is. There is a nice summary on the Urban Omnibus Blog

Readers of this blog will know that I espouse the notion that cities have almost infinite complexity and that their planning is entirely contingent on the people and places for which we might identify problems to be solved. Plans throughout the 20th century have failed entirely to anticipate this complexity and the diversity that characterises our cities has been trampled over and often destroyed in the name of planning. The modern movement in architecture but also the scientism that accompanied the early arrogance in public planning, particularly housing and transportation, are examples. The prospect that the same is happening again with the ‘smart city’ is what Adam Greenfield is so concerned about and rightly so. The image of the smart city which comes from the corporate world betrays a level of ignorance about how cities function that is woeful and dangerous while the notion that all the routine functions of cities can be nearly ordered and automated is simply fanciful. Adam does a great job in describing this world and this is by far the best, in fact perhaps the only, really detailed and incisive critique of what are in fact the ‘smart city new towns’.

In fact smart technologies – I still have problems with the term ‘smart’ in this context as it is so un-English English – are being employed quietly and less obtrusively in many contexts. Transport for London are a major agency in a world city that is at the forefront of new technologies with their smart ticketing, APIs telling you where trains are located, and their focus on trying to minimise disruption. But so are many places which you have never heard about. I went to Zurich last Monday and as ever was amazed by the calm, considered integration of the different modes on the transport system that enabled me to use bus and train to get to ETH from the airport with virtually no wait and with me being informed at every stage of the journey (in English) of where I was and how long it would take me to get to my destination. New information technologies lies at the basis of all of this. In fact it would now appear in many cities that smart systems technologies are being introduced faster and more efficiently from the bottom up in the classic and necessary incremental, evolutionary fashion that all complex systems build upon. Adam makes all these points and more in his essay which might be summed up in the simple notion that the smart cities corporate world sees cities as being ‘complicated’ rather ‘complex’. Complex is of course the emerging wisdom of how we need to treat cities so that we can avoid being entrapped in the mesh of wicked problems that emerge when life is treated too simplistically, when life is considered to be based in immediate order effects, not on order effects that can persist and grow in time often the further away you are from the initial source. A key message of complexity theory.

But Against the Smart City comes with a warning. We need to temper the corporate response to automating the city if only to avoid the kind of things that have plagued public intervention many times before when new technologies are imported into political contexts. The experience with urban models half a century ago in New York City and other places around the world must not be repeated. I wrote about this in my last but one blog post – two below this one – where I directed the reader to the commentaries that myself and colleagues wrote on the notable article by Douglas B. Lee published 40 years ago in 1973 called ‘Requiem for Large Scale Models’. To avoid a ‘Requiem for Smart Cities’, we need to take Adam Greenfield’s message to heart and these should be essential reading for all of us who are involved in the smart cities movement.

Mapping the Densification of Cities in England & Wales using the 2011 Census

UK cities have been undergoing significant change over the last decade, and the 2011 census data provides a great basis for tracking current urban structure. I’ve mapped population and employment density for all of England and Wales in 2011, using a 1km2 grid scale approach-

Design01_ResidentialEmploymentDensity_EngWales_lowres

The main themes that emerge are the dramatic intensification of London, high densities in some medium sized cities such as Leicester and Brighton, and the regeneration of the major northern conurbations, with Manchester and Birmingham as the largest employment hubs outside of London.

Mapping all of England and Wales together is a useful basis for considering city-regions and their connections (note Scotland has not yet published census 2011 employment data and is not mapped). Certainly this is a major theme in current policy debates grappling with the north-south divide and proposed high-speed rail links. I’ll be looking at densities in relation to network connections in future posts as this topic is part of ongoing research at CASA as part of the MECHANICITY project.

It is also possible to directly map changes in density between using the same visualisation approach (note the grid height describes density in 2011, while colour describes change in density between 2001-2011)-

Population Density Change 2001-2011

The change map really highlights the pattern of city centre intensification combined with static or marginally declining suburbs in England and Wales. This trend was discussed in a previous post. The two statistics of peak and average densities reinforce the city centre versus suburbs divide, with peak density measurements growing much more than average densities. But the peak density statistic is somewhat unreliable (such as in the case of Birmingham/West Midlands) and we will be doing further work at CASA to define inner cities and produce more robust statistics of these trends.

 

Notes on the Analysis Method-

The density values were calculated from the smallest available units- Output Area population and Workplace Zone employment data from the 2011 census. This data was transformed to a 1km2 grid geography using a proportional spatial join approach, with the intention of standardising zone size to aid comparability of density measurements between cities. The transformation inevitably results in some MAUP errors. These are however minimised by the very fine scale resolution of the original data, which is much smaller than the grid geography in urban areas.

The workplace zone data is a very positive new addition by the Office for National Statistics for the 2011 census. There is a lot of new interesting information on workplace geography- have a look at my colleague Robin Edward’s blog, where he has been mapping this new data.

Defining city regions is another boundary issue for these statistics. I’ve used a simple approach of amalgamating local authorities, as shown below-

CityRegionBoundaries

 

 


Gender in urban workplaces

In my previous post I plotted a map of London’s workplace (biological) gender divisions, which demonstrated some interesting spatial patterns of gender distribution across the captial. I decided to replicate this to get a more representative picture of how things look across the nation (in this case England and Wales given the extent of the data, the 2011 Census published by ONS via Nomisweb). Here I’ve plotted the same for 28 of the principal urban centres of England and Wales. The colours are scaled by quantile according to the data distribution for the whole of England and Wales. The city maps are all plotted to a 7 km square, which enhances comparability but clips London to The City (see last for the full London map).

urban_workplace_gender

The most immediately striking observation is that workplaces in higher density urban areas seem to have higher female workforce proportions, in some cases by a quite significant margin. There also appear to be some interesting suburban clusters of both male and female dominated workplaces, particularly in larger cities (e.g. Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol). To validate the observation here is a density plot (utilising the Loess method of R’s ggplot2 package) of gender proportions by distance from these city centroids. Firstly the aggregate plot:

density_plot

A trend of significantly more female workplaces in the central 2kms of cities is strongly supported. Plotting individual density plots for each city:

density_plot_faceted

.. demonstrates the varied picture across England and Wales (OK.. Cardiff). The density curves corroborate the trend in many cities, with only London (strictly speaking the City) really bucking the trend.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t say anything about the types of industry that dominate these areas, or about important gender-related trends (such as pay-levels, job type and seniority) that will certainly underlie these figures. For instance some high female-proportion areas may reflect industries employing many women on lower-than-average pay, while others reflect much higher skilled professions. More analysis would need to tease these trends out.
 

Notes on city selection:

The cities plotted above were selected by a process that sought to identify the approximate positions of the highest density urban centres according to the data. The centre haven’t been chosen entirely arbitrarily although some arbitrary decisions did factor in the process – I aggregated the data to 1 kilometer resolution on the British National Grid, sorted it by population density and sifted out the top 28 squares that were not within 20 kms of one of higher density. This doesn’t mean these cities are the most populous or high density, but that by this data and these parameters (resolution and distance threahsold) these were found to be the highest. 20 kms was chosen to remove London’s immediate satellite towns, but it had the effect of removing Bradford for its proximity to Leeds, likewise Bath due to Bristol.

The latest outputs from researchers, alumni and friends at UCL CASA