Constructing Cities, Deconstructing Scaling Laws

Arcaute-Interface

Our work on attempting to repeat the work of the Santa Fe group who show that as cities get bigger (primarily for the USA) they get more than proportionately richer, has drawn a massive blank for the UK urban system (England and Wales). It has taken us a while to get this paper published but here it is in Interface (J. R. Soc. Interface 12: 20140745) and you can get it from this blog by clicking on the link or from Interface as it is open access. Essentially what we show for UK cities, in fact for thousands of realisation of city morphologies, the super linear scaling of income against population size is for the most part not borne out. A million explanations suggests themselves, and although these are not attempted in this paper for our concern here is to show how the lack of superlinear scaling is resilient to city definitions in the UK, we will develop explanations in later papers. The integrated nature of the urban economy in the UK, globalisation, the fact that we are dealing essentially with a smaller scale than the US, the fact that the UK is largely a service based economy, these are some of the reasons why we might not expect super linear scaling. And there is even the prospect that as cities become more integrated in a global economy, then any such superlinear scaling that there might have been will disappear. We need to look at the past to second guess the future. More papers forthcoming. Watch this space.

Reference the article as: Arcaute E, Hatna E, Ferguson P, Youn H, Johansson A, Batty M. 2015 Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws. J. R. Soc. Interface 12: 20140745. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.0745

 

 

The Mapping London Christmas List 2014

We’d thought we’d put together a list of our favourite London map gifts that are in the shops, as last year‘s list proved popular.

1. London: The Information Capital

This brand new book by Mapping London co-editor James Cheshire, contains “100 maps and graphics that will change how you view the city” and it certainly is a book that sits at the intersection of London, mapping and data. It’s a book as much about data map design as it is about London, as it contains various innovative graphic techniques and map designs to show London’s data, old and new. From a time chart of activities of London’s police helicopter, through a colourful ribbon graphic of every census statistic across every part of London, to . We’ve featured a number of the graphics in previous posts too. The book’s RRP is £25 and it is currently selling like hot mince pies on Amazon and in various bookshops across London and beyond. (Full disclosure: I contributed a small number of the graphics in the book.)

PowerofPrint

2. Map of London’s Craft Breweries

Craft breweries have bring springing up in all corners of London recently, as the capital has acquired a taste for chilled, hoppy local brews rather than the big chains. Blue Crow Media have produced this lovely poster showing all the locations of the breweries, many of which have tap rooms open at certain times, where you can try out the beers, fresh! It’s £12.50 in their online shop. One craft brewery we particularly like is the Hammerton Brewery in Islington. Their beer is nice, and as a bonus, they have maps of London on their bottle labels!

craftbreweries

3. Nairn’s London

There is a new reprinting of Nairn’s London, a 1966 classic, with a fresh front cover. The Evening Standard describes it as “One of the best and oddest guidebooks to any city ever written.” Buy it on Amazon for £7.

nairn

4. The Map of Spitalfields Life

We’re big fans of the many hand-drawn maps of the Shoreditch area by Adam Dant so reckon this fold-out map of Spitalfields would make a great stocking filler, particularly as it’s only £4 (+50p P&P to the UK).

spitalfields_life

5. Mike Hall’s Retro London Map

We only wrote about this map a few days ago but we really like its understated colour palette and attractive fonts and the fact that it looks like a classic but is right up-to-date. You can buy it via Mike’s website (£63/£98 depending on size).

mikehallretro

6. Old Folding Maps

These are brilliant reproductions of some of London’s most well known historic maps. You can pick them up directly from the company (from £18 + P&P) or in a a range of places around London, including Stanfords in Covent Garden.

old_folding_maps

7. London You’re Beautiful

This wonderful book depicts a year in London through the sketches and watercolours of David Gentlemen. It is a great book to dip into if you have a spare moment to fill. Buy it on Amazon for £14.

8. Our Prints: London North/South, Electric Tube, Population Lines

Finally, both Mapping London editors have created map-based prints in the last year or so. Ollie has designed two – London North/South and Electric Tube for £20 each, while James designed Population Lines which is currently on sale at £24. All the prints are limited edition, so only available while current stocks last.

population_lines_sml

 

Tube Tongues – The Ward Edition

wardwords

If you are a Londoner but felt that Tube Tongues passed you by, maybe because you live in south-east London or another part of the city that doesn’t have a tube station nearby, then here’s a special version of Tube Tongues for you. Like the original, it maps the most popularly spoken language after English (based on 2011 Census aggregate tables released by the ONS, via NOMIS) but instead of examining the population living near each tube station, it looks at the population of each ward in London. There are 630* of these, with a typical population of around 10000. I’ve mapped the language as a circle lying in the geographic centroid of each ward. This is a similar technique to what I used for my local election “Political Colour” maps of London.

A few new languages appear, as the “second language” (after English) in particular wards: Swedish, Albanian and Hebrew. Other languages, which were previously represented by a single tube station, become more prominent – Korean around New Malden, German-speaking people around Richmond, Nepalese speakers in Woolwich, Yiddish in the wards near Stamford Hill and Yoruba in Thamesmead. Looking at the lists of all languages spoken by >1% of people in each ward, Swahili makes it on to a list for the first time – in Loxford ward (and some others) in east London. You can see the lists as a popup, by clicking on a ward circle. As before, the area of the circles corresponds to the percentage of people speaking a language in a particular ward. The very small circles in outer south-east London don’t indicate a lack of people – rather that virtually everyone there speaks English as their primary language.

English remains the most popularly spoken language in every ward, right across London. Indeed, there are only a three wards, all in north-west London, where it doesn’t have an absolute majority (50%). London may seem very multilingual, based on a map like this, but actually it is very much still Europe’s English-speaking capital. See the graphic below, which shows the equivalent sizes the circles are for English speakers.

Here’s the interactive map. There’s also a ward version of Working Lines.

* I’ve ignored the tiny City of London ones except for Cripplegate, which contains the Barbican Estate.

Background map uses data which is copyright OpenStreetMap contributors. Language data from the ONS (2011 Census).

wardwords_english

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

A Retro Style Map

mikehall_retromap_excerpt3

This map, created by illustrator/designer Mike Hall (we previously featured his borough maps) is simply called the “Central London retro style map“. It’s a brand new map, but in the style of designs from the beginning of the last century. Mike was particularly inspired by the typography and limited colour schemes used in maps back then, and applied the styling to a fully up to date including the latest London landmarks such as The Shard and even the course of Crossrail, an underground railway line that has been dug but is not due to open for another four years – shown, with other underground railways, as subtle dashed lines. Blackfriars station is correctly shown extended right across the Thames, as it now does following a recent major upgrade.

There are lots of nice cartographical details about this map. I particularly like the parallel line effect used to emphasise the edges of water features such as the Thames, and the attractive fonts used carefully for different features. It’s also quite refreshing to see a modern London map which doesn’t use the tube roundel for tube stations – instead, a simple black dot (For smaller stations) and dark grey shape (for larger ones) is used. The muted colours (mainly light orange, light green, light blue and dark grey) complement each other well, producing a map which doesn’t overwhelm the senses, while providing enough interest to encourage visual exploration.

We featured a new map in an old style previously – the Wellington Map harks back to the early 18th century. Mike’s style sits between this overtly old-fashioned look, and the latest auto-generated Google Maps and OpenStreetMap maps that we see on our smartphones and computer screens. His map provides a “touch of class” and reassures me that there is certainly still a place for classically designed, beautiful, modern maps of London.

Mike’s been working on the project for the last six months and has ambitious plans for similar maps of other major European cities – good luck, I look forward to this future output and also more London-focused cartography.

You can view more excerpts of the map, and buy one from Mike’s Etsy store, via his webpage.

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up!

mikehall_retromap_photo2

Joanna Stillwell Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2014

 

Joanna Stillwell Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2014

The Population Geography Research Group is proud to announce the winners of the Joanna Stillwell Undergraduate Dissertation Prize, 2014.

This prize is named in memory of Joanna Stillwell, daughter of Professor John Stillwell of the University of Leeds. The Population Geography Research Group awards three prizes (£100 for first prize; £50 for second prize; £25 for third prize) for the best undergraduate dissertations in the broad field of Population Geography. For further information (including past winners) please see: http://popgeog.org/prizes/.

The winners of the 2014 Joanna Stillwell Undergraduate Dissertation Prizes are:

  • 1st James Evans, University of Sheffield
    • Longing for Independence: The Social Consequences for Young Adults Unable to Leave Home
  • 2nd Caitlin Aylward, University of St Andrews
    • Fertility in China
  • 3rd Alicja Klek, University of Dundee
    • Place-Making Process of Post-Accession Polish Migrants in Dundee

Congratulations to James, Caitlin and Alicja!

Younger shoppers show stronger emotional involvement with self-checkout than … – Retail Times


Younger shoppers show stronger emotional involvement with self-checkout than ...
Retail Times
The project, led by Dr Nadia Olivero from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL, and funded by the European Commission, was designed to show the emotional impact of in-store technologies and their effect on consumer experience. It featured a ...

Tube Challenge!

tubechallenge

Want to visit all of London’s 270-odd tube stations in a day? Being on the London Underground for an entire day will be many people’s idea of hell, but for some, it is the practical execution of a tricky mathematical problem and a chance to bag yourself a Guinness World Record. Tube Challengers normally keep their route secret, but a 2009 challenge route was made into an artwork. Information Capital co-author Oliver Uberti took the published route and created this map (excerpt above, full version here) which includes both sections travelling on the tube itself, and runs between certain key stations. By the looks of thing, challengers get very used to passing through King’s Cross (bottom right of the excerpt).

The time taken for the 2009 challenge, as shown here was 16 hours and 44 minutes. Since then, many more attempts have been made, and the time is now down to 16 hours and 20 minutes. This is despite one particular station, Kensington (Olympia), being particularly difficult to travel to (or from) by tube. The optimum route is probably slightly different to that shown here, also your success will depend on how fast you run the sections between lines, and, most key of all, how many delays and disruptions appear on the ageing network (some signalling systems on the tube are over 100 years old!)

I like Oliver’s minimal use of colour, and simple, clear design, adapting the famous “Beck” tube map to show routes, not lines. The stripped back map emphasises the only two things that you are going to spend 16+ hours doing should you accept the challenge – sitting on tube trains, and running.

Excerpted from the Information Capital website and featured today on the BBC News Magazine.

Is Developing the Greenbelt the Answer to London’s Housing Crisis?

Greenbelt

Following rapid growth and a chronic lack of new development, housing affordability has reached crisis levels in London. Median house prices are at £300k (8 times median household income) while average prices have passed half a million. London is now amongst the most expensive cities in the world, a situation with severe consequences for economic competitiveness and for inequality. Rents continue to increase faster than wages, ownership is being restricted to affluent populations and the social housing waiting list now stands at 345,000 households, nearly double the figure from 15 years ago.

Recent development figures have been very low. London needs at least 50,000 new homes per year to meet demand, yet only 21,000 were built last financial year, and this figure has been below 20,000 for all of the last five years. Nationally around 200,000 houses a year are needed, and we are building around 100,000. These figures amount to a comprehensive failure of national and mayoral policy.

Clearly substantial changes are needed. Last week the Centre for Cities outlined how this change could happen, launching their ‘Building Change: Delivering Homes Where we Need Them‘ report. It convincingly argues that we are failing to deliver homes where demand in greatest- in the vicinity of rapidly growing towns and cities- resulting in spiralling housing costs.

The report makes a range of positive recommendations for enhancing local authority capacity in relation to delivering new housing, including the streamlining and reform of compulsory purchase orders for faster development and allowing cities to benefit from uplift values in land; allowing local authorities to borrow more with longer term commitments from central government; and enabling greater cooperation between local authorities to tackle city-region challenges. Best practice examples are provided from local authorities that have successfully delivered new housing, such as Bristol and Milton Keynes. The report also provides a useful summary on brownfield capacity, with for example the potential for 350,000 homes on brownfield sites within the GLA.

Releasing Greenbelt Land for Development
By far the most politically controversial aspect of the report is the recommendation to reconsider greenbelt development restrictions. Prioritising brownfield land has been a central foundation of compact city planning over the last twenty years, directing development towards inner city regeneration and away from rural areas. Yet brownfield land can be expensive to develop, and in combination with greenbelt restrictions, land prices have soared. These spiralling land costs have significantly curtailed new housing.

Opportunities for housing on ‘Usable Greenbelt Land’ around London are mapped in the report (figure below), based on locations within 2km of rail stations. The Centre for Cities estimate that there are opportunities for 430,000 housing units on greenbelt land within the GLA, and opportunities for a massive 3 million housing units on the London greenbelt beyond the GLA boundary. This huge housing capacity could effectively solve London and the South East’s housing crisis. So is developing on the greenbelt the answer?

Opportunities for new housing on London greenbelt land, Centre for Cities Delivering Change Report 2014.

Usable Land and the Value of the Greenbelt
The gigantic housing development capacity figures quoted in the Centre for Cities report certainly demand attention. As housing development is such a central issue for planning in the South East, I have decided to repeat the Centre for Cities spatial analysis from a sustainable urbanism perspective and assess how realistic these recommendations are, and what the environmental consequences of the greenbelt development approach are likely to be.

First of all, some details on the Centre for Cities methodology. Their Usable Land definition is a 2km crow-flies buffer of rail and underground stations, excluding several environmental protection area types (SSSIs, AONB, SAC, SPA, Ancient Woodlands). The report does not argue that all this land should be developed, rather that it could be considered for development on a case by case basis. They take a ballpark figure that, given infrastructure, services and removing highly amenable land, 60% of the remaining land could be developed for housing at an overall average of 40 dwellings per hectare (thus each hectare of usable land effectively translates to 24 homes). I have repeated this method below and I get a very similar result of 120,000 hectares / 2.87 million homes on London greenbelt land beyond the GLA boundary. I get a lower (but still substantial) figure of 12,700 hectares / 306,000 homes on greenbelt land within the GLA.

SouthEast_GreenbeltDev_Map1b

There are two main spatial analysis issues with the Centre for Cities method of identifying usable land- firstly there are significant development restrictions missing, and secondly there are problems with using rail station buffers as a proxy for sustainable travel. Regarding the first problem, the most significant restrictions that should be included are flood risk areas, and additional environmental land and habitats (principally Priority Habitat Areas). The impact of these additional restrictions is shown in the map below. Surface water and flooding risk in particular covers large areas of land in the Thames Valley west of the GLA, and north in the Lee Valley, reflecting the role of the greenbelt in flood management. Assuming these areas would not be developed, this removes nearly 40% of the usable land from the analysis, leaving 75,000 hectares. With more data and time, further restrictions could be considered, for example local site access, road congestion, airport flight paths, heritage restrictions etc.

SouthEast_GreenbeltDev_Map2c

The second problem is how to consider public transport accessibility and sustainable travel. The basic principal used by Centre for Cities is sound- directing development to areas of public transport access. But locations within 2km of rail stations in the South East are often very small towns and villages, lacking local retail and services opportunities. Not surprisingly these small towns are generally highly car dependent, with around 80% of commuters driving to work, and similar patterns for other trip purposes. Building further low density housing in these locations would likely reproduce this pattern of car dependence.

Ideally the appropriate method here would be to do some accessibility modelling and network analysis (comparable to the PTAL approach used in the London Plan) to identify locations with access to local services and a range of public transport options. Unfortunately performing accessibility modelling for the whole of the South East is not trivial. The maps below shows a simpler alternative, identifying locations within an estimated local walk/bus trip of a retail and service centre (3km of a large centre, 2km of a medium centre or 1km of a small centre) based on 2010 Valuation Office data, in addition to the 2km buffer of rail stations. It is clear that a stricter definition of accessible locations greatly reduces the resulting volume of usable land, directing potential development to larger settlements with more facilities (and public transport services) like Southend, Maidstone and Hemel Hempstead. In this case it leaves 27,500 hectares of greenbelt land beyond the GLA, or 23% of the original figure. Note we also haven’t considered public transport capacity, which is a critical issue for commuters into London as many services are overcrowded.

This analysis points to the Centre for Cities figure of 3 million potential homes in the greenbelt being a big overestimate if sustainable planning guidance is going to be followed. Yet even with this stricter approach I still get a large figure of 27,500 hectares of potential development land in the greenbelt beyond the GLA, which would be about 650,000 homes at suburban densities or more at higher densities. This could go a long way to alleviating the housing crisis in the South East. The Centre for Cities report is convincing in its wider policy argument that land should be ‘evaluated on its merits’ rather than being fixed by blanket restrictions. Greenbelt development could play an important and perhaps even relatively sustainable role in addressing the housing crisis.

The question then is how any release of greenbelt land can be managed to prevent sprawl and retain the many environmental roles that the greenbelt embodies. There is also the problem of making the case to the public when the greenbelt has traditionally a popular policy. And so we come back to the issue of local authorities cooperating to tackle regional challenges. A million commuters cross the GLA boundary every weekday, yet regional planning is almost non-existent. Any release of greenbelt land needs to be considered in its regional context and balanced against brownfield opportunities. The biggest housing opportunities are linked to new infrastructure (e.g. Crossrail both West and East of the GLA; the Varsity Line for Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge), again at the regional scale. Its hard to see how the housing crisis can be tackled without much greater regional cooperation and some form of regional planning for the South East.


Headset creates “3D soundscape” to help blind people navigate cities – Dezeen


Dezeen

Headset creates "3D soundscape" to help blind people navigate cities
Dezeen
... experience the city, and at the Future Cities Catapult, we developed the ground-breaking human-centred design research for the project, working with Superflux, Arup Foresight, the Royal College of Art and the Bartlett's Centre for Advanced Spatial ...

and more »

Improving R Data Visualisations Through Design

When I start an R class, one of my opening lines is nearly always that the software is now used by the likes of the New York Times graphics department or Facebook to manipulate their data and produce great visualisations. After saying this, however, I have always struggled to give tangible examples of how an R output blossoms into a stunning and informative graphic. That is until now…

I spent the past year working hard with an amazing designer – Oliver Uberti – to create a book of 100+ maps and graphics about London. The majority of graphics we produced for London: The Information Capital required R code in some shape or form. This was used to do anything from simplifying millions of GPS tracks, to creating bubble charts or simply drawing a load of straight lines. We had to produce a graphic every three days to hit the publication deadline so without the efficiencies of copying and pasting old R code, or the flexibility to do almost any kind of plot, the book would not have been possible.  So for those of you out there interested in the process of creating great graphics with R, here are 5 graphics shown from the moment they came out of R to the moment they were printed.

commute_flows_before_after
This graphic shows the origin-destination flows of commuters in Southern England. In R I used the geom_segment() command from the brilliant ggplot2 package to draw slightly transparent white lines between the centroids of the origins and destinations. I thought my R export looked pretty good on black, but we then imported it into Adobe Illustrator and Oliver applied a series of additional transparency effects to the lines to make them glow against the dark blue background (a colour we use throughout the book).
day_night_before_after
This is a crop from a graphic we produced to show the differences between the daytime and nighttime population of London (we are showing nighttime here). It copies the code I used to produce my Population Lines print, but Oliver went to the effort of manually cleaning the edges of the plot (I couldn’t work out how to automatically clip the lines in ggplot2!) by following the red-line I over-plotted. Colours were tweaked and labels added, all in Illustrator.
treasures_before_after
One of my favourite graphics in the book shows the number if pieces of work by each artist in the Tate galleries.  We can only show a small section here, but full-sized it looks spectacular as it features a Turner painting at its centre. The graphic started life as a treemap that simply scaled the squares by the number of artists. R has a very easy to use treemap() function in the treemap package. Oliver then painstakingly broke the exported graphic to bits, converted the squares to picture frames and arranged them on “the wall”.
cycle_before_after
This map, showing cyclists in London by time of day, was created from code similar to this graphic. It is an example where very little needed to be done to plot once exported – we only really needed to add the River Thames (this could have been done in R), some labels and then optimise the colours for printing. Hundreds of thousands of line segments are plotted here and the graphic is an excellent illustration of R’s power to plot large volumes of data.
relationship_status_before_after
The graphic above (full size here) has been the most popular from the book so far. It takes 2011 Census data and maps people by marital status as well as showing the absolute numbers as a streamgraph. ggplot2 was used to create both the maps and the plot. We stuck to the exported colours for the maps and then manually edited the streamgraph colours. The streamgraph was created with the geom_ribbon() function in ggplot2.
london_inspired_before_after

All the graphics shown so far started life as databases containing, as a minimum, several thousand rows of data. In this final example we show a “small data” example – the lives of 100 Londoners who have earned a blue plaque on one of London’s buildings. The data were manually compiled with each person having 3 attributes against their name: the age they lived to, the age when they created their most significant work, the period of their life they lived in London. Thanks to ggplot2 I was able to use the code below to generate the coarse looking plot above. Oliver could then take this and flip it before restyling and adding labels in Illustrator. They key thing here was that a couple of lines of code in R saved a day of manually drawing lines.

#We order by age of when the person started living in London, this is the order field.

ggplot(Data,aes(order,origin))+geom_segment(aes(xend=order, yend=Age))+geom_segment(aes(x=order,y=st_age, xend=order, yend=end_age), col="red")+geom_segment(aes(x=order,y=st_age2, xend=order, yend=end_age2), col="yellow")+ coord_polar()

 

Purchase London: The Information Capital.

DataShine Update

Back in June Oliver O’Brien and I launched an interactive census map called DataShine. It has been hugely successful with a core of regular users in addition to many visitors passing who want to learn more about their area or a specific dataset. As we said back in June, the website is a work in progress so we are always looking to add new features. Two of these – local area rescaling of the colour key and data download – were launched recently at the UK Data Service‘s Census Research User Conference hosted by the Royal Statistical Society. Both are in response to people’s need to zoom in and look at particular patterns for their area without worrying about other parts of the country. Census data can also be tricky to find if you don’t know all the codes or table structures so we hope that offering simple access via the map will help users a lot. So next time you use DataShine look out for the buttons highlighted below…

datashine_new_features

To learn more about these features, in particular the local area rescaling see our blog post here.

Local Area Rescaling and Data Download

DataShine Census has two new features – local area rescaling and data download. The features were launched at the UK Data Service‘s Census Research User Conference, last week at the Royal Statistical Society.

Local Area Rescaling

This helps draw out demographic versions in the current view. You may be in a region where a particular demographic has very low (or high) values compared to the national average, but because the colour breakout is based on the national average, local variation may not be shown clearly. Clicking on the “Rescale for current view” button on the key, will recolour for the current view.

For example, the popularity of London’s underground network with its large population, means that, for other cities with metros or trams, their usage is harder to pick out. So, in Birmingham, the Midland Metro can be hard to spot (interactive version):

metro1

Upon rescaling, just the local results are used when calculating the average and standard deviation, allowing usage variations along the line to be more clearly seen:

metro2

As another example, rescaling can help “smooth” the colours for measures which have a nationally very small count, but locally high numbers – it can remove the “speckle” effect caused by single counts, and help focus on genuinely high values within a small area.

Hebrew speakers in Stamford Hill, north-east London (interactive version):

hebrew1

Upon rescaling, a truer indication of the shape of the core Hebrew-speaking community there can be seen:

hebrew2

Occasionally, the local average/standard deviation values will mean that the colour breakout (or “binning”) adopts a different strategy. This may actually make the local view worse, not better – so click “Reset” to restore the normal colour breakout. Planning/zooming the map will retain the current colour breakout. PDFs created of the current view also include the rescaled colours.

Data Download

On clicking the new “Data” button on the bottom toolbar, you can now download a CSV file containing the census data used in the current view. Like the local area rescaling functionality, this data download includes all output areas (or wards, if zoomed out) in your current view. This file includes geography codes, so can be combined with the relevant geographical shapefiles to recreate views in GIS software such as QGIS.

Next on the DataShine project, we are looking to integrate further datasets – either aggregating certain census ones or including non-census ones such as IMD and IDACI deprivation measures, or pollution.

DataShine: Local Area Rescaling & Data Download

Cross-posted from the Datashine Blog.

DataShine Census has two new features – local area rescaling and data download. The features were launched at the UK Data Service‘s Census Research User Conference, last week at the Royal Statistical Society.

Local Area Rescaling

This helps draw out demographic versions in the current view. You may be in a region where a particular demographic has very low (or high) values compared to the national average, but because the colour breakout is based on the national average, local variation may not be shown clearly. Clicking on the “Rescale for current view” button on the key, will recolour for the current view.

For example, the popularity of London’s underground network with its large population, means that, for other cities with metros or trams, their usage is harder to pick out. So, in Birmingham, the Midland Metro can be hard to spot (interactive version):

metro1

Upon rescaling, just the local results are used when calculating the average and standard deviation, allowing usage variations along the line to be more clearly seen:

metro2

As another example, rescaling can help “smooth” the colours for measures which have a nationally very small count, but locally high numbers – it can remove the “speckle” effect caused by single counts, and help focus on genuinely high values within a small area.

Hebrew speakers in Stamford Hill, north-east London (interactive version):

hebrew1

Upon rescaling, a truer indication of the shape of the core Hebrew-speaking community there can be seen:

hebrew2

Occasionally, the local average/standard deviation values will mean that the colour breakout (or “binning”) adopts a different strategy. This may actually make the local view worse, not better – so click “Reset” to restore the normal colour breakout. Planning/zooming the map will retain the current colour breakout. PDFs created of the current view also include the rescaled colours.

Data Download

On clicking the new “Data” button on the bottom toolbar, you can now download a CSV file containing the census data used in the current view. Like the local area rescaling functionality, this data download includes all output areas (or wards, if zoomed out) in your current view. This file includes geography codes, so can be combined with the relevant geographical shapefiles to recreate views in GIS software such as QGIS.

Next on the DataShine project, we are looking to integrate further datasets – either aggregating certain census ones or including non-census ones such as IMD and IDACI deprivation measures, or pollution.

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

A Map of Duke of York Square

dukeofyork

Here’s a beautiful hand-drawn map by Camilla Charnock, who was commissioned to draw it for a new retail development at Sloane Square in west London.

I am very enthusiastic about developers commissioning attractive and original maps to promote their developments, it’s so much nicer to see something unique as opposed to a simple online map or an edited Google Map – nothing wrong with these per se, but a bespoke map suggests a genuine passion in setting a new development in its place. This particular graphic appears on the construction hoarding for the project (Duke of York Square, by Cadogan Estates).

We’ve previously featured a Camilla Charnock work before – Carte Blanc, a map of restaurants in an up-market chain. Like that piece, this map includes lots of attractive adornments – a dinosaur skeleton for the Natural History Museum, a Chelsea Pensioner and a dalmatian dog (below). The main streets are shown, along with tube stations. Trees and flowers further soften the map. The development itself, shown in a blown-up section, includes the various retail units in pastel colours with symbols for the shopping types, and a few further adornments. Note that, rather unusually, the map is orientated so that upwards is eastwards.

Thanks to Camilla for carefully photographing her artwork, joining the pieces together and sending them in.

dukeofyork_detail

Post Doctoral Fellow: GeoHealth Laboratory, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Post Doctoral Fellow: GeoHealth Laboratory, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Job ID: 2386

 

Closing date: November 27th 2014

 

Research in Quantitative Health Geography

 

The GeoHealth Laboratory, Department of Geography, University of Canterbury invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship (research). This is a three-year position and available immediately. The fellowship is intended for a recent Ph.D. whose training and research is in health and medical geography, public health, social epidemiology and/or related a discipline. Good quantitative skills and GIS expertise are essential. The successful candidate will be expected to develop research that is consistent with the research profile of the GeoHealth Laboratory. Potential research areas could include (but are not limited to):

 

· Neighbourhoods and health
· Environmental justice and health
· Environment and health
· Impacts of urban environment on health
· Transport and health
· Health inequalities

 

For more information about the GeoHealth Lab see: www.geohealth.canterbury.ac.nz/. Enquiries of an academic nature may be made to Prof Simon Kingham (simon.kingham@canterbury.ac.nz) or Dr Malcolm Campbell (malcolm.campbell@canterbury.ac.nz).

 

For further information and to apply online visit please visit http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/joinus/

 

An advert for the role can be accessed here. Download the full Position Description here.

 

Eighth International Conference on Population Geographies Brisbane, Australia, 30 June 2015 to 3 July 2015

Dear All,

We are delighted to announce that the 8th International Conference on Population Geographies will be held at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, from 30 June to 3 July 2015.

Essential details of the conference are available on the University of Queensland website at: http://www.gpem.uq.edu.au/icpg2015. As you will see, we expect to launch the full conference website, with more details, in mid November with the call for abstracts at the start of December.

The ICPG is unique! The previous conference in Groningen was a great success, and with your help we hope to create an equally stimulating and enjoyable event in Brisbane in mid 2015.

We expect to do a more general mail-out to potential participants within the next month. In the meantime, please feel free to publicise the Brisbane ICPG 2015, as widely as possible, and contact us if you have any queries.

We hope to welcome you to Brisbane in June next year.

Very best wishes

Martin Bell

on behalf of the ICPG2015 Organising Committee

Working Lines

workinglines_northern

As a followup to Tube Tongues I’ve published Working Lines which is exactly the same concept, except it looks at the occupation statistics from the 2011 census, and shows the most popular occupation by tube station. Again, lots of spatial clustering of results, and some interesting trends come out – for example, the prevalence of teachers in Zones 3-4, that there is a stop on the central line in north-east London which serves a lot of taxi drivers, and that bodyguards really are a big business for serving the rich and famous around Knightsbridge.

The northern line (above) stands out as one that serves a community of artists (to the north) and less excitingly a community of business administrators (to the south). Tottenham/Seven Sisters has a predominance of cleaners, and unsurprisingly perhaps plenty of travel agents live near Heathrow. I never knew that the western branch of the central line, towards West Ruislip, was so popular with construction workers. Etc etc.

Only the actively working population is included, rather than the full population of each area. This makes the numbers included in each buffer smaller, so I’ve upped the lower limit to the greater of 3% and 30 people, to cut down on small-number noise and minimise the effect of any statistical record swapping.

Visit the new oobrien.com Shop
High quality lithographic prints of London data, designed by Oliver O'Brien
Electric Tube
London North/South

Envitia-led consortium secures Dstl contract extension – DirectionsMag.com


Envitia-led consortium secures Dstl contract extension
DirectionsMag.com
GEOCORE, a consortium of leading academic and industry partners, led by Envitia, has been awarded a major new follow-on contract by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), following two successful years of delivering applied research to ...

and more »

The Football Tribes

footballtribes

London has many football clubs – but where in London do their supporters live, work or go out? In the area immediately near their hallowed grounds, or far away. Are there some clubs that attract a wide support from across the capital? Are there sharp dividing lines in the city, between rival supporters of closely-located clubs?

All these questions and more can be answered by this striking Twitter analysis of tweets relating to the clubs. Muhammad Adnan and Guy Lansley at UCL collected “tweets” (with attached location) over the 2013/14 football season, looking at hashtags related to each club and then mapping the most popularly tweeted club in a 500m x 500m grid covering London. The smaller clubs tend to have a core support near the stadium itself, while the larger ones have a more dispersed popularity but still a core area of near-unanimous support, by the stadium itself. James Cheshire (Mapping London co-editor) then assembled this vivid graphic of the data.

I like the use of the grid squares here – it removes the distractions of both natural features (except the Thames) and political boundaries (except London’s own boundary) and lets the football colours do the talking, in a Jackson Pollock-esque way. The bright colours match the traditional colours of the teams – the central London area dominated by the reds vs the blues (Arsenal vs Chelsea), with Crystal Palace covering a large area of south London -but then they did have an interesting season…

We’ve featured a similar map of football supporters before, plus a map of the travelling locations of the clubs themselves.

Excerpted from the website for The Information Capital. The book itself is out on 30 October, buy a copy here.

Tube Tongues

tubetongues

I’ve extended my map of tube journeys and busy stations (previous article here) to add in an interesting metric from the 2011 census – that of the second most commonly spoken language (after English) that people who live nearby speak. To do this I’ve analysed all “output areas” which wholly or partly lie within 200m radius of the tube station centroid, and looked at the census aggregate data for the metric – which was a new one, added for the most recent census.

See the new map here.

Each tube station has a circle coloured by, after English, the language most spoken by locals. The area of the circle is proportional to the percentage that speak this language – so a circle where 10% of local people primarily speak French will be larger (and a different colour) than a circle where 5% of people primarily speak Spanish.

Language correlates well with some ethnicities (e.g. South Asian) but not others (e.g. West Indies), in London. So some familiar patterns appear – a popular, and uniform, second language appearing at almost all Tower Hamlets stations.

Click on each station name to see the other languages spoken locally – where at least 1% of local speakers registered them in the census. There is a minimum of 10 people to minimise small numbers for some tube stations in very commercial/industrial districts. In some very mono-linguistic areas of London (typically in Zone 6 and beyond the GLA limits) this means there are no significant second languages, so I’ve included just the second one and no more.

This measure reveals the most linguistically diverse tube station to be Turnpike Lane on the Piccadilly Line in north-east London, which has 16 languages spoken by more than 1% of the population there. By contrast, almost 98% of people living near Theydon Bois, on the Central Line, speak English as their primary language. Perhaps the most curious category is at Barbican, where 1.1% of people, or around 40, speak a “Northern European language (non EU)”.

One quirk is that speakers of Chinese languages normally appear as Chinese ao (all other) rather than Cantonese, whereas actually in practice, the Chinese community do mainly speak Cantonese (Yue) in London. This is likely a quirk of the way the question was asked and/or the aggregate data compiled. Chinese ao appears as a small percentage right across London due to the traditional desire for Chinese restaurant owners to disperse well to serve the whole capital.

The idea/methodology is similar to that used by Dr Cheshire for Lives on the Line. The metric was first highlighted by an interesting map, Second Languages, created by Neal Hudson. The map Twitter Tongues also gave me the idea of colour coding dots by language.

I’ve also included DLR, Overground, Tramlink, Cable Car and the forthcoming Crossrail stations on the map. Crossrail may not be coming until 2018 but it’s very much making its mark on London, with various large station excavations around the capital.

turnpikelane

The TfL lines (underground, DLR etc), station locations and names all come from OpenStreetMap data. I’ve put the collated, tidyed and simplified data, that appears on the map, as GeoJSON files on GitHub GIST.

Visit the new oobrien.com Shop
High quality lithographic prints of London data, designed by Oliver O'Brien
Electric Tube
London North/South

Long-running citizen science and Flynn effect

If you have been reading the literature on citizen science, you must have noticed that many papers that describe citizen science start with an historical narrative, something along the lines of:

As Silvertown (2009) noted, until the late 19th century, science was mainly developed by people who had additional sources of employment that allowed them to spend time on data collection and analysis. Famously, Charles Darwin joined the Beagle voyage, not as a professional naturalist but as a companion to Captain FitzRoy[*]. Thus, in that era, almost all science was citizen science albeit mostly by affluent gentlemen and gentlewomen scientists[**]. While the first professional scientist is likely to be Robert Hooke, who was paid to work on scientific studies in the 17th century, the major growth in the professionalisation of scientists was mostly in the latter part of the 19th and throughout the 20th century.
Even with the rise of the professional scientist, the role of volunteers has not disappeared, especially in areas such as archaeology, where it is common for enthusiasts to join excavations, or in natural science and ecology, where they collect and send samples and observations to national repositories. These activities include the Christmas Bird Watch that has been ongoing since 1900 and the British Trust for Ornithology Survey, which has collected over 31 million records since its establishment in 1932 (Silvertown 2009). Astronomy is another area in which amateurs and volunteers have been on a par with professionals when observation of the night sky and the identification of galaxies, comets and asteroids are considered (BBC 2006). Finally, meteorological observations have also relied on volunteers since the early start of systematic measurements of temperature, precipitation or extreme weather events (WMO 2001). (Haklay 2013 emphasis added)

The general messages of this historical narrative are: first, citizen science is a legitimate part of scientific practice as it was always there, we just ignored it for 50+ years; second, that some citizen science is exactly as it was – continuous participation in ecological monitoring or astronomical observations, only that now we use smartphones or the Met Office WOW website and not pen, paper and postcards.

The second aspect of this argument is one that I was wondering about as I was writing a version of the historical narrative for a new report. This was done within a discussion on how the educational and technological transitions over the past century reshaped citizen science. I have argued that the demographic and educational transition in many parts of the world, and especially the rapid growth in the percentage and absolute numbers of people with higher education degrees who are potential participants is highly significant in explaining the popularity of citizen science. To demonstrate that this is a large scale and consistent change, I used the evidence of Flynn effect, which is the rapid increase in IQ test scores across the world during the 20th century.

However, while looking at the issue recently, I came across Jim Flynn TED talk ‘Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents (below). At 3:55, he raise a very interesting point, which also appears in his 2007 What is Intelligence? on pages 24-26. Inherently, Flynn argues that the use of cognitive skills have changed dramatically over the last century, from thinking that put connections to concrete relationship with everyday life as the main way of understanding the world, to one that emphasise scientific categories and abstractions. He use an example of a study from the early 20th Century, in which participants where asked about commonalities between fish and birds. He highlights that it was not the case that in the ‘pre-scientific’ worldview people didn’t know that both are animals, but more the case that this categorisation was not helpful to deal with concrete problems and therefore not common sense. Today, with scientific world view, categorisation such as ‘these are animals’ come first.

This point of view have implications to the way we interpret and understand the historical narrative. If correct, than the people who participate in William Whewell tide measurement work (see Caren Cooper blogpost about it), cannot be expected to think about contribution to science, but could systematically observed concrete events in their area. While Whewell view of participants as ‘subordinate labourers’ is still elitist and class based, it is somewhat understandable.  Moreover, when talking about projects that can show continuity over the 20th Century – such as Christmas Bird Count or phenology projects – we have to consider the option that an the worldview of the person that done that in 1910 was ‘how many birds there are in my area?’ while in 2010 the framing is ‘in order to understand the impact of climate change, we need to watch out for bird migration patterns’. Maybe we can explore in historical material to check for this change in framing? I hope that projects such as Constructing Scientific Communities which looks at citizen science in the 19th and 21th century will shed light on such differences.


[*] Later I found that this is not such a simple fact – see van Wyhe 2013 “My appointment received the sanction of the Admiralty”: Why Charles Darwin really was the naturalist on HMS Beagle

[**] And we shouldn’t forget that this was to the exclusion of people such as Mary Anning

 


London’s Incendiary House Prices

fireflats

Above is a map from Mapping London co-editor Dr Cheshire’s new book The Information Capital that appeared in this week’s Time Out.

It dramatically shows how unaffordable large parts of London have become – areas where the median houseprice (i.e as many houses above this price locally as below it) is over £250,000 have completely burnt away. As the local level approaches that threshold, the colours get increasingly firey, suggesting that, if houseprices continue to rise, the burnt edge will continue to expand.

On a similar theme, Splittable uses similar colours to show where you are really going to have to share if you are looking to rent, and where you can live on your own – for £130/week budget, the yellow colours in the excerpt below show that there is only a small pocket in south-east London where such a place is unaffordable.

These two maps may be alarming to look at if you are setting to buy or rent, but remember they are just the median – there are plenty of places in “good” areas for a lot less than the values shown – you’ll probably have to compromise on something else though…

splittable

Geodemographics of Londoners

loac

Today, a new version of the Greater London Authority (GLA)’s London Datastore launches, with an updated look, a new responsive data dashboard, and various new datasets being made available, including two key geodemographic datasets – that is, datasets which succinctly describe the population of an area.

LOAC

One set, produced by Dr Alex Singleton at the University of Liverpool, is the London Output Area Classification (LOAC). LOAC looks purely at recent census area data for just London, using similarity clustering to put each of ~32000 small London areas into one of 8 groups (each then subdivided into 2-4 subgroups for further insight).

I’ve taken this dataset and produced the LOAC Map. An excerpt of part of the map for north London is above, but be sure to try the interactive version – a popup will describe the current area as you mouseover it. Buttons at the top allow you to map just a single group, to find out different areas with a similar population.

Whereabouts London

The Future Cities Catapult has also produced its own, separate cluster of GLA-area aggregated data both from the census and additional more novel open sources (e.g. greenspace survey and Flickr photo numbers), again producing an interactive map (excerpt below) of 8 different classifications. The project is called Whereabouts London. Here, clicking on an area will reveal a set of charts showing the typical characteristics of the grouping that the area is in. Whereabouts London is fully open source, with the code behind the clustering available on BitBucket.

Whereabouts London takes a pure-vector approach to showing the areas, with all areas that fit into each category highlighting when you mouse-over them. Similarly to LOAC, they have also used a vivid colour palette. The website is fully responsive, so should work well for checking out an area you are in, on your smartphone.

whereabouts2

Ένας σκούφος καταγράφει τα συναισθήματά μας! – Ant1News


Ένας σκούφος καταγράφει τα συναισθήματά μας!
Ant1News
Μιλώντας στο «Έθνος» ο Πάνος Μαύρος, ο οποίος κάνει την έρευνα του στο Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis του University College London, τονίζει ότι «τις περισσότερες φορές αυτού του είδους οι μελέτες γίνονται στο εργαστήριο. Εμείς θέλουμε ...

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Future Cities Will be Living, Reactive & Think for Themselves – RE.WORK Cities … – PR.com (press release)


Future Cities Will be Living, Reactive & Think for Themselves - RE.WORK Cities ...
PR.com (press release)
Andrew Hudson-Smith, Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London. Andrew's contribution to knowledge and outreach in the fields of the Internet of Things, smart cities, big data, digital geography, urban planning and ...

Με έναν… σκούφο καταγράφει τα συναισθήματά μας στην πόλη – Έθνος


Έθνος

Με έναν... σκούφο καταγράφει τα συναισθήματά μας στην πόλη
Έθνος
Μαύρος, ο οποίος κάνει την έρευνα του στο Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis του University College London, τονίζει ότι «τις περισσότερες φορές αυτού του είδους οι μελέτες γίνονται στο εργαστήριο. Εμείς θέλουμε να μελετήσουμε πώς αντιδρούν ...

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London: The Information Capital

TheInformationCapital_cover_500px

TheInformationCapital_cover_500px

London has been home to many great cartographers and has been the subject of many stunning maps that depict all aspects of life in the city.  Drawing inspiration from these and capitalising on the huge volumes of data now available, I have spent the past year working with designer Oliver Uberti to create a collection of maps and graphics entitled London: The Information Capital. We asked ourselves questions such as

Which borough of London is the happiest? 

Where are the city’s tweeting hot spots?  

How many animals does the fire brigade save each year? 

Which London residents have left their mark on history?

Where are London’s most haunted houses (and pubs)?

What makes London the information capital?

and sought to answer them through data visualisation. The book contains over 100 full-colour spreads alongside some brief essays to introduce each of the 5 broad themes – Where we are, Who we are, Where we go, How we’re doing and What we like.

Oliver Uberti and I worked closely with our publisher Particular Books (part of Penguin) to create a book that was a beautiful as it could be. Inside you’ll find some graphics with transparent overlays for before/ after comparisons, binding that minimises the impact of the centre fold and page dimensions tailored to the shape of London. All this showcases everything from watercolours of London’s protected vistas, 24 hours of shipping in the Thames Estuary and London’s data DNA. You can find out more here or pick up a copy on Amazon now or in all good bookshops from the 30th.

There are also a couple events taking place to mark the launch of the book. Find out more here.

home_work_print

‘Myths of Migration: The Changing British Population’ at the British Academy, London, on Monday 17 November 2014

An evening meeting organised jointly by the British Academy and BSPS on ‘Myths of Migration: The Changing British Population’, at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, on Monday 17 November 2014 at 6.00-7.30pm.

As part of its celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Changing Population of Britain (edited by Heather Joshi), the BSPS has teamed up with the British Academy for an evening meeting on UK migration. This will describe trends over time in both international and internal migration and discuss how these patterns are changing the size and composition of our national and local populations (click here for more information). The meeting is free of charge, but pre-registration is required and seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis. To register, please go to the following webpage: http://www.britac.ac.uk/events/2014/MythsofMigration.cfm

A BSPS day meeting on ‘usual residence’ and alternative population bases, at LSE on Friday 24th October 2014

A BSPS day meeting on ‘usual residence’ and alternative population bases, at London School of Economics on Friday 24th October 2014, 10.30am-5.00pm.
 
A reminder that this meeting on population bases for presenting census and related stats will take place at LSE on Friday 24 October, 10.30am-5pm. The programme for the day is now finalised. Register by emailing pic@lse.ac.uk or phoning the BSPS Secretariat on 020 7955 7666. There is no charge for this meeting and it is open to members and non-members.

A sense of new academic term

 
New academic term of UCL officially started on 22nd September 2014. Thousands of new students walk around the campus, and they fill Bloomsbury area with vibrant energy. Dr. Adam Dennett begun his GI Systems and Science class for new post-graduate students of CASA with welcoming slide on 1st October. In this year, CASA opened two new post-graduate courses: MSc SmartCities and Urban Analytics and MRes Smart Cities. Therefore, he has developed a lot of the course materials and structure for the students during last summer days.

 


On the same day, when CASA held SHOW AND TELL, which is a traditional CASA event to introduce each other, I apparently realised that the new term is just started! Most members of the lab came up and introduced themselves at this inaugural meeting.  

 


Emer Coleman’s seminar was followed on 7thOctober under the title of “Open Data and the City: Looking back and Looking Forward”. She explained open data as a way of engagement and empowerment and how citizen can be benefited and can participate in making better urban environment. Several good cases, such as Hello Bristol, were mentioned.



After the presentation, many questions were emerging from the audience. Transparency, security, effectiveness and so on. However, I was uncomfortable when she criticised, with some sentences from Adam Greenfield’s “Against the smart city”, big corporations that IBM and Cisco have been pushing smart city idea for money rather than people or better society. I could not catch the difference between the big brands, which get profit by providing new city systems and solutions, and her company, which get profit as well by providing efficient transport solution and application. There might be a matter of size.

These adventures would be enough to feel a sense of the new term. However, UCL email was unusually hacked on 9thOctober. All UCL students got 3000 emails (including me) with bello. It was a big issues not only in the campus but also in the UK as The Independentannounced. Steven Gray, a specialist of large datasets at CASA, analysed what has happened with his Big Data Toolkit and posted it on his blog.
 

#bellogate – A breakdown of the spam.

This morning (9th October 2014) was not like any other morning. Usually I wake up and check my nightly email while having my breakfast. This morning, however, I awoke to my work email account having just fewer than 3,000 unread emails waiting for me. During the night someone on the UCL Students email list had worked out how to send an email from the provosts email account to the all students mailing list saying the single word “bello”. What’s unclear was that this email appeared to come from the Provost’s alias and no-one knows if the account was hacked (which would signal a breech of an account) or just some student on campus who knew how to spoof the email headers.

No one knows exactly what has happened, and this is only speculation, but what I think has happened is that the general mailing list for all students has been setup incorrectly allowing anyone with the email address to send to any message to the student body. Until an official statement has been announced we won’t know for certain.

Naturally my first reaction was to start to read all of these emails and see what was being said between the students to get an understanding of how they were using service. We had emails from students who were saying “hello” or “bello” in some cases, many students responded to the mailing list saying “Please remove my name from the list”. My favourite of all these emails were the mailing lists that the mailing list alias (the One Direction Fan Club and the along with a poem about the event:

As of 9:30am the mailing list was closed down and an investigation is underway according to the @uclnews twitter account. @uclisd have done a great job keeping everyone notified even to the point of apologising to all the students via a text message to mitigate any concerns.

So what happens when you are researching ways to deal with unstructured textual data, have a toolkit, which collects data from various services and access to all the emails that were sent? Obviously you analyse the data! I quickly wrote some software to pull the data into the Big Data Toolkit and processed the data. I stripped out all identifying details such as email address and analysed only the date, time, subject heading and message body for information on what was being discussed. Below is a short breakdown of the data processed by my Big Data Toolkit.

The Data

2,968 emails were sent out during the spam attack. Assuming that there is 26,000 students at UCL (from 2012 stats) then the total load on the email servers was 71,168,000 messages sent over a period of 11 hours.

First Email Sent: Wed Oct 08 2014 22:48:25 GMT+0100 (BST)
Last Email Sent: 09/10/2014 09:45:41 GMT+0100 (BST)
Total Period: 10 hours 57 minutes
Total Size of all 2,968 emails: 85.61 Mb
Total Data storage for all students: 2.226 Tb
Emails which were Subscriptions (Mailing Lists): 1,254

Distribution of sent messages (every minute)

Textal of Subject Headers (view on textal.com)

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