Call for papers – International Conference on Population Geographies 2015

 

The Spatial Dimensions of Population – Call for papers

 

The call for papers for the 8th International Conference on Population Geographies is now open. The Conference will be held at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia from 30th June to 3rd July 2015.

 

Abstracts for papers and posters should be around 250 words and include the title, authors, affiliations, and contact email, and be sent to icpg2015@uq.edu.au. The conference organisers welcome offers of papers on any aspect of population geography or spatial demography, as well as proposals to organise sessions. The deadline for submissions is Monday 16th   February 2015.

 

Essential details of the conference including themed sessions, conference location, accommodation, and travel are available on the conference website at: http://www. icpg2015.org.

North/South – The Interactive Version.

northsouth_large

As a weekend project, I’ve made an interactive version of my London North/South artwork.

As well as the blue and red house silhouettes, assembled in QGIS, I’ve added in GeoJSON files of the River Thames (from Ordnance Survey Vector Map District, like the buildings) and of tube/DLR/Overground stations – the location/name/network data is from this GitHub file and I’ve applied a custom styling in OpenLayers 2, with station name styling inspired by the NYC Subway signs. The positional information comes from an OpenLayers control – I’m using a utility function to modify the output to use degrees, minutes and seconds. Finally, the naming popup is a set of UTFGrid JSON files (with 2-pixel resolution) based on OpenStreetMap data for polygons. Where the polygon has a building, leisure or waterway tag, I’m extracting a name, if available, and showing it. The coverage here is therefore only as good as building naming is in OpenStreetMap. I could potentially add in street names in the future.

Try it out here.

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

Understanding Household Energy Use in England & Wales

Household energy use is a key indicator for understanding urban sustainability and fuel poverty, and is a timely topic now that winter has arrived. The LuminoCity3D site maps domestic energy use in England and Wales at 1km2 scale using data from DECC. This map has also just been published as a featured graphic in Regional Studies Regional Science. The household energy use distribution is really fascinating, with large scale regional variation and fine scale intra-urban patterns identifiable-

EnergyUse_EW_RSRS_FeaturedGraphic_web

Average domestic energy use 2012, click to view interactive map

Graph

The lowest energy use per-household is found in cities and towns in the South-West region such as Plymouth and Exeter, and also along the South coast. While the highest energy use per-household is found in commuter belt towns around London. The variation within city-regions is very high, with for example London and Manchester averages varying by up to a factor of 5, from a mere 8kWh to over 40kWh per year.

The main drivers of energy use are generally housing type (more exposed walls=more energy use; larger house=more energy use), household size, wealth and climate. Often these factors are correlated at household and neighbourhood levels- so for example wealthier households in England and Wales are more likely to live in large detached houses, and these households tend to be clustered together. These trends produce the high energy use pattern seen in London’s commuter belt, as well as in the wealthier suburbs of other large cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. South West England on the other hand benefits from the mildest climate in the UK, has a relatively high proportions of flats and generally lower average household sizes, thus resulting in the lowest energy use.

We can see how these factors play out for London in the map below. The height of the hexagons shows density, with higher density areas clearly using less energy. City centre households have considerably lower energy use, with a strong bias towards Inner East London where incomes are lower.

LondonEnergyUse

London average domestic energy use 2012, click to view interactive map

Energy use areas correlate strongly with the most prevalent housing type map (also on the LuminoCity3D site), with flats and terraced housing the lowest energy users, and detached and semi-detached areas the highest.

LondonHousingType

London most prevalent housing type 2011, click to view interactive map

The relationship with household size is less clear cut, but it can be seen that average household sizes are smaller in the city centre. On the other hand, areas with high average household sizes such as Stratford and Wembley, do not have particularly high average energy use.

LondonHouseholdSize

London average household size 2011, click to view interactive map

Overall domestic energy use patterns tend to mirror transport sustainability, in that higher density city centre areas perform more efficiently compared to low density suburbs. On the other hand the link to city size (which tends to be strong in transport sustainability relationships, with bigger cities reducing car use) is much weaker, and the most efficient locations are often small and medium sized towns and cities. It is not clear in this analysis whether more recent green policies (such as improved insulation or CHP schemes) are having much effect, but several cities with green reputations like Brighton and Bristol are amongst the best performing cities.

 


British Ecological Society & Société Française d’Ecologie meeting, Lille (Day 3)

The last day of the BES/Sfé meeting was in the mood of celebration, so a session dedicated to celebrating citizen science was in place.  My notes from first day and the second day are in previous posts. These notes are long…

Before the session, in a symposium on tree health, Michael Pocock (CEH) presented ‘Monitoring to assess the impacts of tree diseases: integrating citizen science with professional monitoring‘. Ash die-back is important, and in the rest of Europe, (e.g. Denmark, Lithuania or Poland) there are losses of 60-90% but there was very little work done on monitoring the biodiversity impact of the disease in general. There is a clear lack of knowledge on the impacts on biodiversity in general – how suitable are existing surveys, how they can enhance? In a work that he done with Shelley Hinsley they reviewed 79 relevant studies, from volunteers to national professional survey and local studies. They tried to answer questions such as: What kind of things can be impacted? they identified all sort of impacts - trophic networks, structural, cascading, and ecosystem functions. They looked at different receptors in different contexts – from animals and plants on the receptors, to where they are located as context – woodland, or hedgerow. They found that woods are fairly well monitored, but how much professionals will continue to monitor it with budget cuts is an issue. Ecosystem function is very poorly monitored. The recommendations of the report are that current ongoing activities are suitable and maybe should be modified a bit to make them better (e.g. asking another question in a survey) – they didn’t recommend brand new surveys. The report is available here . If we want future proof monitoring that deal with the range of tree disease and other issues – we need a better ‘spine’ of monitoring work (in the report on page 5), but improve the integration of information and synthesis between survey. Co-location of monitoring site can be great, but actually, there are specific reasons for the locations of places in each scheme so it’s not easy to do so. In addition, volunteers based monitoring require investment in maintenance. He completed his talk with more general citizen science issue that we can learn from this work – the national plant monitoring scheme is to be launched in 2015, and there are some specific focused on lichens and other issues that require specialist knowledge in survey programmes like Splash. Mass participation is useful in some cases, but there is an issue how much recording effort is quantified – there is a big differentiation in ability to monitor species across the country and the ability of participants to record information. The retention of volunteers in mass projects is an issue – only 10% continue after a year. In enthusiasts recruitment you get higher numbers 20% that continue to be involved. The most exciting opportunity that he see is in  hypothesis-led citizen science, like the Concker Tree Science project.

The ‘Celebrating Citizen Science’ session was at the  final group of sessions of the conference, but was very well attended. Chaired by  Michael Pocock, who, together with Helen Roy, runs the BES Citizen Science SIG.

Romain Julliard (Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle)  provided an overview of citizen science activities in France in his talk ‘Biodiversity monitoring through citizen science: a case study from France’. The starting statement was that unskilled amateurs from the general public can provide good information. The museum have a role in monitoring biodiversity at the national – common species are good indicators, the appropriate for studying global changes and the general public is interested in ‘ordinary Nature’ – the things that we see every day. Scientists alone cannot monitor biodiversity over a big space such as a country, so citizens can help to collect data on a country scale and they are already spread across the country. The trade-offs of using citizens as observers include skills vs. numbers of participants – there are only few experts and enthusiasts. Another issue is sampling design: are you aiming for representativeness of where people are or do you send observers to specific locations to do the survey. There is a need for a simple protocol for volunteers. Much simpler than procedures in a research station professionals. They started with French Bird Breeding Survey in coordination with NGOs like LPO and others – with over 2000 squared that are being observed since 1989 and over 1000 provide long-term monitoring. Now they have skilled amateur schemes – monitoring bats, butterflies and much more. They started their programmes in 2005 with butterfly programme, pollinating insect survey from photographs (Spipoll) in 2010 and garden bird watch in 2012 among others – new programmes especially in the past 5 years . Spipoll provides a good example of the work that they are doing. Pollinators are useful to raise awareness and explain multi-factor pressures on the environment. 2014-12-12 13.14.25The are many sampling sites and thousands of flowers dwelling insects in France. They Spipoll protocol starts with 20 minutes ‘safari-photo’ which mean that you select a flower and take photos of each visiting insects. Second step is to select the best single photo for each insect that was sampled. Third step to name each insect from 630 possibilities – and they create an online tool that helps the identification. Final step – share the collection with other people. Once photos are shared, there are plenty of comments from other participants. The participants are encouraged to help each other observations and there is also expert participation in identification. By now, they have over 600 regular participants, 18,000 collections, and 155,000 photos. Many of the participants are not experts in biological recording but have interest in photography. in terms of data quality they looked for precision, repeatability (how close the process was to the protocol). The social control help in improving quality, and the representativeness can be done in explicit sampling design but also in post-study statistical analysis. Beginners tend not to follow the protocol, but other people are helping them and within 3-4 iterations, people are learning the protocol and follow it.

Helen Roy (CEH) talk (with Harding, Preston, Pocock and Roy) ‘Celebrating 50 years of the Biological Records Centre. She gave some key achievements that also appear in a booklet on the 50 years of BRC. The BRC was established in the 1960s to support volunteer recording in the UK – they have now a team of 14 permanent staff. 85 different recording schemes from flee to bees, ladybirds and many other groups. Recording schemes are running by volunteers coordinators – so support is provided by printing newsletters, publishing atlases, etc. They cover a lot of taxa – plants and animals. Over the decades, they have long-term datasets which lead to distribution atlases. Over 80m records. UK biodiversity indicators for the UK government are collected by volunteers and used in decision-making – they are now growing from 24 indicators to include pollinators and other elements. Another area of importance is biological invasions as it cost the UK over 12 billion EUR a year – and not only to look at existing species but also to look forward about the threats – and because volunteers are so knowledgeable, they contributed to horizon scanning work. Work on surveillance and monitoring extend to the general public with publicity – this way they for example got information that Raccoons are being seen in the UK. Another important aspect of BRC data is the ability to use it to understand the decline of native species – for example understanding changes in native ladybird species. Finally, the information is very important in climate change scenarios and use the information about habitats can help in interpreting data and predict future directions.

In the work of the BRC, technology is becoming an important driver – they share it through the NBN gateway, and also apps and websites such as iSpot, iRecord and other bits are helping in developing new sources of information. In summary, to deal with environmental challenges that we’re currently facing cannot be done without this information and interpretation by volunteers. She finished with a big thank you to the many volunteers recorders.

In ‘How to use data generated by general public of a citizen science program for conservation purpose’ Nathalie Machon (Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle) explored another successful French study. They see importance in preserving biodiversity in cities – regulate city climate, dealing with air pollution, contributing to public health etc. In cities, most of the biodiversity is in parks and gardens but the urban matrix is permeable to many animal species such as pollinators. The potential of connection between green spaces is important to create a network in the city. How the structure and management of cities influence biodiversity? was a research question that the programme ‘sauvages de ma rue‘ was set to explore. Since 2011 participants share information about wild-flowers in their own streets. When the programme started, they wanted people to learn to recognise species near them and collect information about the distribution of plants in their area . The protocol is fairly simple – identify street, collect data about plants in different habitats (cracks, walls) and send the information. They created  a guide to help people identify species and also created a smartphone app. Usually people start by providing data about their street, but the programme grew and now they have groups and organisations that deal with naturalist activity and they send a lot of data from many streets in the same place. The organisations can be about sustainability, schools university or nature enthusiasts. They receives 40,660 data points by 2014 which provided the basis for her analysis.

After correction, they had reliable 20,000 data points in 38 cities and 2500 pavements – they check the richness of pavements and the obvious factor is the length (of course) but in about 100m there is a levelling in terms of species. They found that the structure of the street is important – if it is only in cracks, there are less species. The richness is not correlated to population density, but in large urban area (Paris) there is a significant decline toward the centre. They also look at pollination – and found that the number of pollinators is correlated to the human density of the city but not correlated to the distance to the centre of the city, apart from the case in Paris. They also seen increase with habitat types in a pavement. In terms of cities, they discovered that Nantes, Brest and Angers are doing well. However, they are aware that there is an observer effect on the results. Observers were shown to be good as botanists. In summary, they’ve learned that insect pollinated species are easy to recognise and it’s possible to carry out such studies effectively with lightly trained volunteers.

Anne-Caroline Prévot (CESCO – Muséum nationa l’Histoire Naturelle) reviewed her research on ‘Short and long-term individual consequences of participation to citizen-science projects’ in an approach that combines environmental psychology and ecology. There is growing concern on separation between people and nature: extinction of experience (Pyle 2003, Miller 2005) or environmental generational amnesia (Kahn 2002). There is a need engagement of majority of citizens to change their approach. In the psychology field  , there is Stern influential piece from 2000 on environmentally significant behaviour, linking individual to different aspects of pro-environmental behaviour. Identifying social and personal factors . On the other hand, in citizen science programme there are multiple goals – contribute to ecological science ; educate people to acquire knowledge on biodiversity; etc. There is also potential of reconnection to nature – so the  question that she addressed “Did citizen science changed biodiversity representation and knowledge? environmental values? pratcial knowledge? skills?” (all these are based on Stern framework). She looked at the butterfly collection programme and interview 30 regular volunteers who participate every year – They found that they were confident in science, and they discovered new aspects of biodiversity through participation and change their gardening practices. This can change representation but they were environmentally concern to start with. There was no issue of group identity  with this group of volunteers. The second study looked at a programme at school (vigienature école) with 400 pupils from 29 classes in 11-13 age group. They use a questionnaire to understand environmental value and other activities outside schools. In addition, they asked the children to draw an urban garden. Each drawing was analysed for natural elements, built elements and humans. Participation in nature monitoring showed higher presence of nature in drawing but no difference in environmental values. They think that it probably changed representation, but not values, there was no assessment of skills and there was some aspect of group social identity. In summary citizen science initative may change knwoeldge and attitdue of volunteers but this require attention and more evaluation.

Rachel Pateman (SEI) presented the an MSc project carried out by Sian Lomax  under the supervision of Sarah West (SEI) on ‘A critical assessment of a citizen science project‘. It’s an assessment of the science and impact of participants from the OPAL Soil and Earthworm Survey. Aims of citizen science are to answer scientific questions, but also to provide benefit to participants – learning, fun, change behaviours, or information for lobbying on behalf of nature. The challenges are how to find inclusive methods and have good quality data. The participants aim are not simple – there is not simple link between participation and pro-environmental behaviour. The way to deal with that is to evaluate and reflect critically during the development of a citizen science project, and inform the design process (this remind me a lot of Amy Fowler’s thesis, also about OPAL). The OPAL programme is aimed to be educational, change of lifestyle and inspire new generation of environmentalists and greater understanding of the environment. Sian evaluate the soil and earthworm survey which are usually run with an instructor (community scientist) but also can be done by ordering a self obtained pack. The methods – dig a pit, identify worms, and identify properties of the soil and then submit the inforamtion. The aim is that participants wil learn about soil properties and get interested in environmental issues. Sian recruited 87 participants from ages 5 to 60 and also evaluated the observations of participants in the lab, as well as running a questionnaire with participants. She found fairly poor results  (around 40% accurate) in comparison to her own analysis. The results are that 39% identified correctly, 44% functional group, 46% identified as immature – the reliability of the data that adult observers done is better. Results – ID to species level is challenging, especially without help (she didn’t trained the participants) and therefore there is a need of an OPAL community scientist to be an instructor. There was not enough testing of the material at the beginning of the survey and it haven’t been improved since 2009. There is a need to verify records – but should be emphasised further and included in apps. However, despite these limitation, the OPAL survey did yield useful information and they managed to use the data to find abundance of information. Only in 29% of the cases she agreed with participants about the classification of soil granularity. When evaluating the pH of the soil – 63% was within the correct category of acid/alkaline but not correct on the value – the issue might be with the instrument that was provided to participants and yields wrong reading.

From @Simon_Wilcock

In terms of knowledge and experience – the questionnaire was done before, immediately after the survey and then 3 months later. Knowledge increased immediately after but drop-off after – so conclusion is that need to reinforce it after the event. In terms of interest in nature they didn’t find difference – but that because there was high level of interest to start with.

Jodey Peyton (CEH/BRC)  ‘Open Farm Sunday Pollinator Survey: Citizen science as a tool for pollinator monitoring?‘. The decline in pollinators in the UK is a cause of concern. Their estimated value is £510 m a year. The Big Bumbelebee discovery is an example for a project that focus on pollinators. However, we’re lacking abundance data about them. The Open Farm Sunday is a project to open farms to the public (run by LEAF) and about 4 years ago they contacted CEH to do some work with visitors collect information on pollinators

They ask participants to observe a 2×2 m of crop and non-crop area. They have an ecologists on site so they do the same as the participants – carry 2 min observations in both habitats. The event included teaching people the process and giving them information. The forms use to be 4 pages but turned out to be too complex so simplified a form with just 2 pages. They also reduce time from 5 min to 2 min. They run  surveys in 2012 to 2014 with different number of farms – and looked at different factors during the day. They found that public was over-recording (compare to ecologists), not by much – they also got data from other parts of the plant so not only on the flowers because they wanted to report something. Conclusions – on the broad level public data was similar to ecologists. Lots of interest and enthusiasm and understand what they’re seeing. It is great opportunity to highlight the issue of pollinator. Want to run it every second year because of the effort of the ecologists on the day. They also want to deal with challenge of ‘recording zero. Want to see more collaboration with universities and schools.

Charlotte Hall (EarhtWatch Institute) provided an overview of FreshWater Watch: lessons from a global mass Citizen Science programme. The programme focused on fresh water quality. A global programme that look at water quality in urban areas – each location they partner with local research institute, and Earthwatch bring the citizen scientists with the local researchers. The data that is collected is managed by EarthWatch on a specially designed website to allow sharing knowledge and communictation. The evolving motivation of participants, they looked at Rotman et al 2012 model. Initial involvment stemming from interest or existing knowledge, although in the case of EarthWatch they are getting employees of Shell or HSBC who sponsor them, they also work with teachers in Teach Earth and also expanding to work with local groups such as Thames 21 or Wandle Trust. They have over 20 research partners. With such a mix of researchers, participants and organisations, there are different motivations from different directions. They start with training in person and online Research and learning- EarthWatch is interested in behaviour change, so they see learning as a very important issue and include quizzes to check the knowledge of participants. They pay special attention to communication between EarthWatch and the scientists and between EarthWatch and the citizen scientists. There is a community feature on the website for citizen scientists and also for the scientists. There is also an app with automated feedback that tell them about the outcomes of the research they are doing. They have an element of gamification -points on communication, science and skills that participants gained and they can get to different levels. They try to encourage people to move to the next step so to continue their involvement through learning in webinars, refresher session, research updates, points and prizes and even facility for the participants to analyse the data themselves. Involvement in FreshWater watch is exhibiting participation inequality. 2014-12-12 14.43.10They would like to make it shallower but it is very strongly skewed. In Latin America there is better participation, and also differences in participation according to the researcher who lead the activity. This is new citizen science approach for EarthWatch, with different audience, so it’s important to re-evaluate and understand participants. EarthWatch is still learning from that and understanding motivation.

Emma Rothero (Open University) Flight of the Fritillary: a long-running citizen science project linking Snakeshead fritillaries flowers and bumblebees. The work started in 1999, this is a rare plant that is growing only in few places in the UK. The Bees are critical to the flower, and they set a 15% secondary count to evaluate the success of volunteers. They also started winter workshops for discussions. To engage volunteers, they’ve done wide advertising and also used naturalist networks. She described a comparison between three sites where monitoring was carried out this year . In Lugg Meadow the monitoring is done during guided walks and family outreach events. In North Meadow, many people come to see – so they have a gate presence and offered free lunch for volunteers. In Clattinger Farm they haven’t done any specific activity. In 2008 – 20011 only 20 volunteers, now they’ve got 90 volunteers, and about 30-40 who come to winter workshops. Level of volunteering – once 120 , 40 participated twice and 20 three times – there is some enthusiastic people who do it regularly. The volunteers survey show that 88% heard about the monitoring project by word of mouth (despite the advertising and media access), and 87.5% are already recorders – but 88% thought that they had improved their skills. and 65% said that they improve their skills. 54% would like to get involved in other aspects of the project, and 100% enjoyed the activity. In terms of comparison with recounts – they do 4000 1sq m quads using very accurate (1 cm) GPS. They see that there wasn’t difference between recounts in some sites but significantly difference in another site (because of difficulties in frame orientation so implementation of the protocol) – recognising problem in their method. There is also scientific discovery, where they found a case that plants didn’t appear one year but bounced back the next year.

There was no time for much discussion, but a question that was raised and discussed shortly is that most of the projects are ‘top-down’ and led by the scientists, so what is the scope for co-created projects in the area of ecological observations and monitoring?

 


British Ecological Society & Société Française d’Ecologie meeting, Lille (Day 2)

Notes from the second day of the BES/sfé annual meeting (see first day notes here)

Several talks in sessions that attracted my attention:

Daniel Richards (National University of Singapore) looked at cultural ecosystem services from social media sources. He mentioned previous study by  Casalegno at al 2013 study on social media and ecosystem services . In Singapore they carry out a study for the few green spaces that are used for leisure and nature reserves – the rest of the place is famously highly urbanised. There are patches of coastal habitat that are important locally. The analysis looked at Flickr photos to reveal interest. There are 4 study sites, with 760 photos that were returned and of them 683 related to coastal habitat. They use classification of content, with 8 people analysing the photos. Analysis of Flickr showed different aspects – landscape in one site, and wildlife in another site. In one site there are research photos due to the way it is used locally. Looking closely to one coastal site, focal points in the route where people stopped  to take a picture stood out, and landscape photos. All the photos follow the boardwalk in the area of Changi which is the only route. Simulation showed that after 70 photos they can get a good indication of the nature of the place, no need to look through all the images.

Barbara Smith explored the role of indigenous and local knowledge as part of a multiple evidence base for pollinator conservation. The context is India in agricultural area – looking at places where there is more extensive agriculture and less. The project aim is to record pollinators and then explore the impact of landscape and crop productivity . In this study, the starting point was the belief that traditional knowledge has a lot of value, and it is a knowledge that can be integrated with scientific information.  She mentioned Tengo et al 2013 discussion paper in IPBES on the value of local knowledge, and also Sutherland et al 2014 paper in Oryx about the need to integrate indigenous knowledge in ecological assessment. The aim to collate knowledge of trends, they created a local peer-review process to validate local knowledge. Understanding  factual data collection and separate it from inferences which are sometime wrong. They carry out small group discussions, in which they involved 5-7 farmers, in each of the 3 study area they had 3 groups. They asked questions that are evidence gathering (which crop you grow?) and also verification (how do you know?) they also ask opinion scoping (perceptions ) and then ‘why did you observed the change?’. In the discussions with the farmers they structured in around questions that can be explored together. After the first session, the created declarations – so ‘yields have fallen by 25%’ or [crop yield declined because of the poor soil’ the statements were accepted or rejected through discussion with the farmers – local peer-review. Not all farmers can identify pollinators, and as the size goes down, there is less identification and also confusion about pests and pollinators. The farmers identified critical pollinators in their area and also suggestions on why the decline happen.

In the workshop on ‘Ecosystem assessments – concepts, tools and governance‘ there was various discussion on tools that are used for such purposes, but it became clear to me that GIS is playing a major role, and that many of the fundamental discussions in GIScience around the different types of modelling – from overlaying to process oriented modelling – can play a critical role in making sense of the way maps and GIS outputs travel through the decision making. It can be an interesting area to critically analysed – To what degree the theoretical and philosophical aspects of the modelling are taken into account in policy processes? The discussion in the workshop moved to issues of scientific uncertainty and communication with policy makers. The role of researchers in the process and the way they discuss uncertainty.

In the computational ecology session, Yoseph Araya presented a talk that was about the use of citizen science data, but instead he shared his experience and provide an interesting introduction to a researcher perspective on citizen science. He looked at the data that is coming from citizen science and the problem of getting good data. Citizen Science gaining attention – e.g. Ash die-back and other environmental issues are leading to attention. Citizens are bridging science, governance and participation. Citizen Science is needed for data at temporal, spatial and social scales and we should not forget that it is also about social capital, and of course fun and enjoyment. There is an increase in citizen science awareness in the literature. He is building on experience from many projects that he participated in include Evolution Megalab, world water monitoring day, floodplain meadows partnership, iSpot and OPAL, and CREW – Custodians of Rare and Endangered Windflowers (that’s a seriously impressive set of projects!). There are plenty of challenges – recruitment, motivation; costs and who pays; consideration of who run it; data validation and analysis and others. Data issues include data accuracy, completeness, reliability, precision and currency. He identified sources of errors – personnel, technical and statistical. The personal – skills, fitness and mistakes and others. Potential solutions – training with fully employed personnel,  then also monitor individual and also run an online quiz. Technically, there is the option of designing protocols and statistically, it is possible to use recounts (15%), protocols that allow ‘no data’ and other methods.

The poster session included a poster from Valentine Seymour, about her work on linking wellbing and green volunteering


OpenStreetMappers of London

info_cap_osm

This is a slightly edited cross post from Oliver O’Brien’s Suprageography blog. It offers a behind the scenes look at one of the graphics we created for the opening essay in London: The Information Capital.

From Ollie:

I contributed a number of graphics to LONDON: The Information Capital, a book co-written by Dr James Cheshire, also of UCL Geography. Two of my graphics that made it into the book were based on data from OpenStreetMap, a huge dataset of spatial data throughout the world. One of the graphics, featured in this post, forms one of the chapter intro pages, and colours all the roads, streets and paths in the Greater London Authority area (around 160,000 “ways” which are discrete sections of road/path) according to the person who most recently updated them. Over 1500 indivdual users helped create and refine the map, and all are featured here. I was pleased to discover I was the 21st most prolific, with 1695 ways most recently modified by myself at the time that the graphic was produced.

The more active users will typically have areas around home and work which they intensively map, plus other, smaller areas such as contributions made during a mapping party or other social event organised by/for the London OSM community. Here’s an example filtering for just one user:

osm_dan

Putting the users together reveals a patchwork of key authors and more minor contributors, together forming a comprehensive map of the city. Detail levels vary, partly as the fabric of the city varies from area to area, but also as some contributors will be careful to map every path and alleyway, while others will concentrate on the driveable road network.

osm_detail

The data was obtained from a local copy of the OpenStreetMap database, for Great Britain, that I maintain for various pieces of work including OpenOrienteeringMap. You can obtain the data files from GeoFabrik (this link is to their new London-only version). The data was captured in early February 2014.

I used QGIS to assemble the data and applied the temp-c colour ramp, classifying across all the contributors – I then changed the ones which were assigned a white colour, to green. The colours used in the book are slightly different as some additional editing took place after I handed the graphic over. The colour ramp is relatively coarse, so multiple users will have the same colour assigned to them. The very long tail of OSM contributions (where only a small number of people make the great majority of edits) mean that this still means that most major contributors have a unique colour assigned to them.

Download:

Note that these files actually are for an area that is slightly larger than the Greater London Authority extent – a buffer from Ordnance Survey Open Data Boundary-Line is used to mask out the non-GLA areas.

If you like this thing, it’s worth noting that Eric Fischer independently produced a similar graphic last year, for the whole world. (Interactive version).

How do England & Wales Stay Warm?

centralheating_1

One of the more spatially interesting datasets on DataShine: Census is about central heating – do houses have it, and what is the fuel source? The table is QS415EW and here’s what one of the categories look like on DataShine. You’ll notice a distinctive pattern, with city centres and the countryside having low proportions of houses with gas central heating (yellow), while city suburbs and towns have much higher proportions (red). Oil central heating, being more expensive, is rare in urban areas but a practical necessity in the countryside, such as in rural Wales. Solid fuel is popular in Northumberland. Aberdaron in Wales has the highest proportion of households in England/Wales with no central heating at all. Many of the houses in this area are holiday houses, which are presumably most population in the summer. It could be a bit chilly there in the winter!

Primary Roads

a1a6_london

Britain’s “top” primary roads – the A1, A2, A3… to A9 – are arranged in a particular pattern, with the A1-A6 radiating out clockwise from London and the A7 to A9 similarly radiating around Edinburgh.

I used Gemma, an old UCL CASA project that Steve and I worked on back in 2011, to draw, from OpenStreetMap, the routes of the A1-A6 as they leave London. The A5 has a gap between Edgware and Harpenden, and the A6 only starts at Luton – both of these changes likely due to the building of the M1 motorway which effectively replaced those sections. Co-numbered roads are not included in the map due to a conflict with the way OpenStreetMap and Gemma separate information. Key for the maps: Red = A1, Orange = A2, Green = A3, Blue = A4, Purple = A5, Black = A6.

Also of interest is that the only two roads that “touch” in London are the A2 and A3, at Borough. The other roads may at one time have converged at junctions, but their starts have been shortened slightly over the years. The big junction at Bank certainly looks like a place where the A1, A3 and A4 could have started from. (Outside of London, the A7 touches the A1 at its northern end and the A6 at its southern end.) Diamond Geezer walked the first mile of the A1-A5 a few years ago.

Gemma still partially works, despite not having seen much love for the last few years and having never made it out of beta (it was a short project). It is recommended you use the OpenStreetMap (or Marker) layers only, to avoid bugs, and watch out if removing layers. You can see the live A1-A6 map here or have a go at building your own.

a1a6_detail

Key for the maps: Red = A1, Orange = A2, Green = A3, Blue = A4, Purple = A5, Black = A6.

I’ve blogged about Gemma before (more).

The coloured road lines are Copyright OpenStreetMap contributors and the greyscale background map is Copyright Google.

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

Covent Garden

coventgardenarea

coventgarden_silver

Covent Garden is one of London’s main traditional shopping precincts, with the Covent Garden Market building itself, once London’s main wholesale fruit and vegetable market, now full of boutique shops. The historic market building is in the heart of London’s “theatre-land”, and is bookended by a grand Apple Store and the Royal Opera House on one side, and the London Transport Museum on the other – the latter is itself a fantastic source of old London maps. Compared with Oxford Street or the Westfield malls, two of London’s other main shopping districts – it’s just as busy, but with the lack of large department stores or standard chain shops, it has quite a different feel. It’s rather pleasant in fact, as long as you don’t mind crowds and tourists!

We’ve discovered the following three maps which are great for exploring both the Market environs and the wider Covent Garden area:

1. Urban Walkabout Map

Urban Walkabout, who we’ve featured before with their Clerkenwell/Farringdon map, recently published their latest map, focused on Covent Garden (extract below). Like their other maps, it has a pastel style, and highlights many of the independent shops and businesses in the local area.

uw_coventgardenextract2

2. Silvermaze Map

Derek Reed at Silvermaze produced this pleasant isometric 3D-effect map of the area several years ago (extract at top) – and have slowly extended it to cover a wider area – it now stretches from Marble Arch to Waterloo. The style of the buildings shown reminds me of the SimCity game. It’s a nice hybrid of modern, functional maps, and old-style maps with trees and boats drawn in. The streets are widened compared to reality, which aids clarity – so you have both a clear view of the building shapes, and of the street network. There’s a number of versions of the map around – here’s another.

3. CapCo Map

Finally, we found this nicely done, modern isometric map, produced by CapCo, owners of the market and several buildings surrounding it. Here’s another version on their website, which includes detail of the traders in the market itself. Coloured buildings are the ones owned by CapCo, with the ones in dark blue or brown (depending on the map version) being places to eat and drink in. The leaseholder of the market, the Covent Garden Area Trust, pays an annual rent of a red apple and a bouquet of flowers to the owner.

coventgardenarea

Mapping for Change community-led air quality studies

As part of the citizens observatories conference, I represented Mapping for Change, providing an overview of community-led air quality studies that we have run over the past 4 years. Interestingly, as we started the work in collaboration with London Sustainability Exchange, and with help from the Open Air Laboratories programme the work can be contextualised within the wider context of NGOs work on citizen science, which was a topic that was covered in the conference.

The talk covered the different techniques that were used: eco-badges for Ozone testing, Wipe sampling, Diffusion tubes and particulate matter monitoring devices. In the first study, we also were assisted by Barbara Maher team who explore tree leaves for biomonitoring. The diffusion tubes are of particular importance, as the change in deployment and visualisation created a new way for communities to understand air quality issues in their area.

The use of a dense network of diffusion tubes became common in other communities over the past 4 years. I also cover the engagement of local authorities, with a year-long study in the Barbican with support from the City of London. There is a lesson about the diffusion of methodologies and approaches among community groups – with the example of the No to Silvertown Tunnel group carrying out a diffusion tubes study without linkage to Mapping for Change or London Sustainability Exchange. Overall, this diffusion mean that over 20 localised studies are emerging across London.


Visualising Ranks and Size in Space and Time

Rank-alluvial

Alluvial diagrams were first proposed to represent changes in network structure over time. Robin Edwards from CASA has implemented the tool and has several examples from social and political arrays which he shows in his blog GeoTheory. Rosvall and Bergstrom’s popularisation of the technique in their paper Mapping Change in Large Networks  was published in PLoS ONE, volume 5, in 2010. The technique goes back a long way to many visualizations of flow systems where the flows change in size with respect to one another over time, and the so-called Sankey diagram is a variant of this to represent branching flows widely employed in energy studies.

Here we show how the technique can be used to show how a system of cities where each city which is located in a different location, changes with respect to its size over time. What we do is rank the cities from the largest to the smallest plotting the biggest city by its size on the vertical axis at the first time period, the second by its size above the first and so on accumulating the sizes until the entire population of cities has been plotted. If we do this at the next time period, some of these cities will have changed in rank and most likely they will have all changed in size. If the whole population of these cities gets larger, the graph will increase in terms of its accumulated population. Otherwise it will reduce. So in a sense it is like a layer cake with the largest city at the bottom and the smallest at the top. The first diagram on the left above is this plot, while the second on the right is the same but normalised with respect to relative – proportionate – change.

However what makes this tool so interesting is that the rank of these cities may change. If the largest city at the first time period becomes the next largest at the next time period, its position on the graph will change, and in this way we will see the cities changing in rank as well as size through time. In our UK data set of cities as primary urban areas, if we consider the largest city in the urban system which is London, this remains the top rank over the last 100 years but Manchester is the second until 1941 when Birmingham takes over. We show this section of the graph which is the bottom three streams of the graph shown above as follows.

rank-size

What we do to make the diagram flow, is present these city sizes as temporal streams whose width is city size. These streams of course can overlap between time periods and this represents changes in rank. We also separate every stream from each other by thin white band and this makes it easier to read the flow graph. We call these graphs ‘alluvial’ because they bear a resemblance to alluvial fans that result from deposits in streaming water.

In fact we can use this technique to examine any m x n table which represents quantities that vary continuously over their m and n dimensions. These quantities may be discrete – that is, the continuum of the dimension may be divided into discrete values but as long as one of the dimensions flows in terms of the way its variable changes, we can use this to represent the stream. If both flow, we can plot the alluvial diagram in either direction and this makes the tool quite generic. In fact we use it here to visualize changes in city size through time. As we show illustrate it, it is probably as good if not better than the rank-clock that I introduced some 8 years ago (Batty, 2006) where one simply plotted the rank, not the size, as a traceline or trajectory around a clock where the clock goes from the start time t at midnight/noon around to the last time t+T at the next midnight/noon.

There are many embellishments we can make to this system. Robin Edwards produced this plot using R scripting and he is currently producing a very interesting online interface that can accept any m x n matrix of quantities and visualize them in the form shown above. One can manipulate the plot in terms of the way it is illustrated – the top rank can be at the bottom with the bottom rank at the top and vice versa. One can start at any time period and colour the streams differently and so on. When it is ready I will post another comment on how you can get access to the program which will be through a web page.

London: The Open Data Capital

This has been cross-posted from a guest blog post I wrote on the London Datastore.

Throughout London’s history, its data have inspired innovative maps and visualisations from the likes of John Snow, William Farr, Charles Booth and Florence Nightingale, all of whom were truly pioneering in their communication of complex datasets throughout the 19th Century. A more recent and less well-known contribution to their legacy is the “Atlas of London and the London Region”, which takes pride of place in my office. Published in 1968 by Emrys Jones and Daniel Sinclair, it is a box containing 70 maps – each nearly a metre wide – that depict everything from London’s topography to the growth of the city and its overcrowded households. The atlas was six years in the making and the work required to produce it without widespread digital mapping tools must have been enormous.

Map 7 from the “Atlas of London and London Region” showing the growth of London since 1800.

Map 7 from the “Atlas of London and London Region” showing the growth of London since 1800.

Inspired by London’s visualisation pioneers London: The Information Capital is a new book that I produced with designer Oliver Uberti. Although it is more modest in terms of its physical dimensions, its 20 million data points are a reflection of a wealth of data that simply did not exist in Jones and Sinclair’s day. The variety of topics that Oliver and I were able to explore – from commuter flows to Londoners’ binge drinking habits – is the result of the volume of freely available data covering all aspects of London life. For example, we had easy access to everything from the UK’s 2011 Census to Transport for London performance data and Ambulance call-outs. London: The Information Capital benefitted not just from their existence but also from the easy-to-analyse format in which they are shared.

Open data initiatives now exist in other cities, but London continues to be a pioneer in the creation and dissemination of its data, to the advantage of those who live here. Indeed, the volume of data made freely available, supplemented by the likes of social media and those obtainable through Freedom of Information requests (FOIs), inspired the book’s title. By saying that London is the Information Capital we are challenging other cities to match the great work conducted by the likes of the London Datastore.

Commuter flows into London, taken from the 2011 Census.

Commuter flows into London, taken from the 2011 Census.

We are not suggesting London has done all it can to improve access to data. Many more datasets could be made open, while others could be made easier to find among the lists of files.

Moreover, datasets in their raw form require high-level skills to turn them into usable information: in this sense, increasing data provision is by no means the same as increasing data access. That said, moves to increased accessibility are already being made, with the likes of “dashboards” offering accessible snapshots to key trends in the data behind them and interactive maps that can show patterns without the need for number crunching. By offering a series of new data portraits, we hope that London: The Information Capital adds to these developments and offers some new perspectives on an old city.

All the Tweets

Cross-posted from Mapping London, edited slightly.

This is a map of geolocated Tweets for the whole world – I’ve zoomed into London here. The map was created by Eric Fischer of Mapbox, who collected the tweets over several years. The place where each tweet is posted from is shown by a green dot. There are millions and millions of tweets on the global map – in fact, over 6.3 billion. The map is zoomable and the volume of tweets means that popular locations stand out even at a high zoom level. The dots are in fact vectors, so retain their clarity when you zoom right in. The map is interactive – pan around to explore it.

If you think this looks familiar, you’d be right. Mapping London has featured this kind of social media ‘dot-density mapping’ a few times before, including with Foursquare and Flickr (also Eric’s work), as well as colouring by language. The key difference with this latest map is the sheer volume of data. By collecting data on geolocated tweets over the course of several years, globally, Eric has assembled the most comprehensive map yet. He has also taken time to ensure the map looks good at multiple zoom levels, by varying the dot size and dot density. He’s also eliminated multiple tweets that happen at the exact same location, and reduced some of the artefacts and data quality issues (e.g. straight lines of constant latitude or longitude) to produce perhaps the cleanest Twitter dot-density map yet. Zooming out makes the map appear somewhat similar to the classic night-time satellite photos of the world, with the cities glowing brightly – here, London, Paris and Madrid are prominent:

activity_westeurope

However it should still be borne in mind both that, while maps of tweets bear some relationship to a regular population density map at small scales, at large scales they will show a bias towards places where Twitter users (who may be more likely to be affluent and younger than the general population) live, work and socialise. The popularity of the social network also varies considerably on a country-by-country basis. Some countries will block Twitter usage altogether. And in some countries, the use of geolocated tweets is much less popular, either due to popularity of applications that do not record location by default or a greater cultural awareness of privacy issues relating to revealing your location when you tweet.

activity_edinburgh

Above: Twitter activity in central Edinburgh, proving once and for all that the East End is a cooler place than the West End.

From the Mapbox blog. Found via Twitter, appropriately. Some of the background data is © OpenStreetMap contributors, and the map design and technology is © Mapbox.

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

All the Tweets

This is a map of geolocated Tweets for the whole world (we’ve defaulted to London here) created by Eric Fischer of Mapbox, who collected the data over several years. The place where each tweet is posted from is shown by a green dot. There are millions and millions of tweets on the global map – in fact, over 6.3 billion. The map is zoomable and the volume of tweets means that popular locations stand out even at a high zoom level. The dots are in fact vectors, so retain their clarity when you zoom right in. The map is interactive – pan around to explore it.

If you think this looks similar to some other maps on Mapping London, you’d be right. We’ve featured this kind of social media ‘dot-density mapping’ numerous times before, including with Foursquare and Flickr (also Eric’s work), as well as colouring by language. The key difference with this latest map is the sheer volume of data. By collecting data on geolocated tweets over the course of several years, globally, Eric has assembled the most comprehensive map yet. He has also taken time to ensure the map looks good at multiple zoom levels, by varying the dot size and dot density. He’s also eliminated multiple tweets that happen at the exact same location, and reduced some of the artefacts and data quality issues (e.g. straight lines of constant latitude or longitude) to produce perhaps the cleanest Twitter dot-density map yet.

However it should still be borne in mind both that, while maps of tweets bear some relationship to a regular population density map at small scales, at large scales they will show a bias towards places where Twitter users (who may be more likely to be affluent and younger than the general population) live, work and socialise. The popularity of the social network also varies considerably on a country-by-country basis. Some countries will block Twitter usage altogether. And in some countries, the use of geolocated tweets is much less popular, either due to popularity of applications that do not record location by default or a greater cultural awareness of privacy issues relating to revealing your location when you tweet.

activity_islington

Above: Twitter activity on Islington High Street, a popular going-out spot on the northern edge of central London. Below: Twitter activity across south-east England, with London prominent.

activity_seengland

From the Mapbox blog. Found via Twitter, appropriately. Some of the background data is © OpenStreetMap contributors, and the map design and technology is © Mapbox.

Citizens Observatories: Empowering European Society

A citizens observatory is a concept that evolved at EU policy circles, defining the combination of participatory community monitoring, technology and governance structures that are needed to monitor/observe/manage an environmental issue. About two years ago, the EU FP7 funded 5 citizens observatory projects covering areas from water management to biodiversity monitoring. A meeting at Brussels was an opportunities to review their progress and consider the wider implications of citizen science as it stand now. The meeting was organised and coordinated by the group in the Directorate General Research and Innovation that is responsible for Earth Observations (hence the observatory concept!).  The following are my notes from the meeting.

They are very long and I’m sure that they are incoherent at places! 

From Commons Lab The meeting was opened with Kurt Vandenberghe (Director Environment, DG R&I). He suggested that citizens observatories contribute to transparency in governance – for example, ensuring that monitoring is done in the correct place, and not, as done in some member states, where monitoring stations are in the places that will yield ‘useful’ or ‘acceptable’ results but not representative: “Transparency is a driver in intrinsic ethical behaviour”. There is also value in having citizens’ input complementing satellite data. It can help in engaging the public in co-design of environmental applications and addressing environmental challenges. Examples for such participation is provided in Marine LitterWatch and NoiseWatch from EEA and development of apps and technology can lead to new business opportunities. The concept of earth observations is about creating a movement of earth observers who collect information, but also allow citizens to participate in environmental decision-making. This can lead to societal innovation towards sustainable and smart society. From the point of view of the commission DG R&I, they are planning to invest political and financial capital in developing this vision of observatories. The New calls for citizens observatories demonstrators is focusing on citizens’ participation in monitoring land use and land cover in rural and remote areas. Data collected through observatories should be complementing those that are coming from other sources. The commission aim to continue the investment in future years – citizen science is seen as both business opportunities and societal values. A successful set of project that end by showing that citizen observatories are possible is not enough – they want to see the creation of mass movement. Aim to see maximising capital through the citizens observatories. Optimising framework condition to allow citizens observatories to be taken up by member states and extended, implemented and flourish. Some of the open questions include how to provide access to the data to those that collected it? How can we ensure that we reach out across society to new groups that are not currently involved in monitoring activities? How can we deal with citizens observatories security and privacy issues regarding the information? The day is an opportunity for co-creation and considering new ways to explore how to address the issue of citizens observatories from a cross-disciplinary perspective – “Citizen science as a new way to manage the global commons”.

Next, a quick set of presentations of the FP7 projects:

WeSenseIt (Fabio Ciravegna) is a project that focuses on citizens involvement in water resources – citizens have a new role in the information chain of water related decisions. Participants are expected to become part of the decision-making. In this project, citizens observatory is seen as a science method, an environment to implement collaboration and as infrastructure. They are working in Doncaster (UK), Vicenza (Italy) and Delft (The Netherlands). In WeSenseIt, they recognise that different cultures and different ways to do things are part of such systems. A major questions is – who are the citizens? In the UK : normal people and in Italy: civil protection officials and volunteers, while in the Netherlands water and flood management is highly structured and organised activity. They have used a participatory design approach and working on the issue of governance and understanding how the citizen observatories should be embedded in the existing culture and processes. They are creating a citizens’ portal and another one for decision makers. The role of citizens portal is to assist with data acquisition with areas and equipment citizens can deploy – weather, soil moisture,etc. On the decision makers portals, there is the possibility is to provide surveillance information (with low-cost cameras etc), opportunistic sensing and participatory sensing – e.g. smart umbrella while combining all this information to be used together. WeSenseIt created a hybrid network that is aimed to provide information to decision makers and citizens. After two years, they can demonstrate that their approach can work: In Vicenza they used the framework to develop action to deal with flood preparedness. They also started to work with large events to assist in the organisation and support the control room, so in Torino they are also starting to get involved in helping running an event with up to 2m people.

Omniscientis (Philippe Ledent)  – The Omniscientis project (which ended in September) focused on odour monitoring and using different sensors – human and electronic. Odour can be a strong / severe nuisance, in Wallonia and France, and there is concerns about motorways, factories, livestock and waste facilities. Odour is difficult to measure and quantify and complex to identify. Mainly because it is about human perception, not only the measurement of chemicals in the air. In too many regulations and discussions about odour, citizens were considered as passive or victims. The Omniscientis project provided an opportunity to participants be active in the monitoring. The project took a multi-stakeholders  approach (farmers, factory operators, local residents etc.). They created odour management information system with the concept of a living lab. They created a OdoMIS that combines information from sensors, industry, NGOs, experts, and citizens. They created an app OdoMap that provide opportunities for participants to provide observations, but also see what other people measured and access to further information. They created chemical sensor array (e-nose), and the citizens helped in assessing what is the concentration that they sense. This was linked to a computationally intensive dispersion model. They have done a pilot around a pig farm in Austria to validate the model, and another near pulp and paper mill. Evolution of citizens participation was important for the project, and people collected measurements for almost a year, with over 5000 measurements. The results is they would like to link odour sources, citizens and authorities to work on the area. They have used actor netowrk theory to enrol participants in the process with strong UCD element.

COBWEB (Chris Higgins) has been working a generic crowdsourcing infrastructure, with data that can supports policy formation while addressing data quality issues and using open standards. They aimed to encapsulate metadata and OGC standards to ensure that the ifnroamtion is interoperable. They would like to create a toolkit can be used in different contexts and scenarios. They focus on the biospehere reserve network across Europe. They carried out a lot of co-design activities from the start with stakeholders engagement, they are doing co-design with 7 organisations in Wales – Woodlands trusts, RSPB, Snowdonia national park, and others. This lead to different focus and interest from each organisation – from dolphins to birds. They hope to see greater buy-in because of that.

Citi-Sense (Alena Bartonova) focusing on air quality. The objectives of city sense is to explore if people can participate in environmental governance. They are doing empowerment initiatives – urban quality, schools, and public spaces. In the urban context they measure pollution, meteorological observations, noise, health, biomarkers and UV exposure – they looked at technologies from mobile sensors and also static sensors that can be compared to compliance monitoring. In schools, they engage the school children, with looking at sensors that are installed at school and also looking at indoor air quality data. There are co-design activities with students. In Public spaces they focused on acoustic sensing, and discover that phones are not suitable so went to external sensors (we discovered the problem with phones in EveryAware). They explore in 9 cities and focusing from sensors, data and services platform but also explore how to engage people in a meaningful way. The first two years focused on technical aspects. They are now moving to look at the engagement part much more but they need to consider how to put it out. They are developing apps and also considering how to improve air quality apps. They would like a sustainable infrastructure.

Citclops (Luigi Ceccaroni) originally aimed ‘to create a community participatory governance methods aided by social media streams’, but this is an unclear goal that the project partners found confusing! So they are dealing with the issue of marine environment: asking people to take pictures of marine environment and through the app facilitating  visual monitoring of marine environment (available to download by anyone) – they are helping people to assess visually the quality of water bodies. There is an official way of defining the colour of sea waters which they use in the project and also comparing ground observations with satellite information. The project included the design of DIY devices to allow the measurement of water opacity. Finally, exploring water fluorescence. They design and 3D printed a device that can be used with smartphones to measure  fluorescence as this help to understand concentration of chlorophyll and can be associated with remote sensing information. Citizen science is a way to complement official data – such as the data from the water directive.

After a break and demonstration from some of the projects, the first round-table of the day, which include executives from environment protection agencies across Europe started

From @ScotlandEuropa strategic views on Citizens Observatories

[I’ve lost my notes, so below is a summary of the session edited from Valentine Seymour notes]

The chair (Gilles Ollier) of the session highlighted that the following issues as significant for considering the role of citizen science: Are we doing something useful/usable? Valuable? And sustainable?
James Curran (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) noted that SEPA took citizen science to the core of its business. He highlighted issues of growth, jobs and investments. The need for sustainable growth and that citizen science contributed to these goals very well as the Chinese proverb say “Involve me and I will understand”. SEPA has been promoting mobile applications to detect invasive species and environmental damages. The Riverfly project is an example of engaging people in monitoring to detect water quality and invertebrate sampling and how important it was for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) to include public participation. There is a need to provide accessible information, working with others collaboratively, measuring behavioural changes and the need for public engagement.

Laura Burke (Ireland EPA) main statement was that citizen science do not replace governmental and official scientific monitoring but that citizen science should be seen in complimentary. There are three main issues or areas to consider; terminology (spectrum of the term citizen science), the need for thinking about the long-term sustainable future of citizen science projects, and acknowledge the synergies between projects.

Hugo de Groof (DG Env) noted the importance of access to information and the Open Access Directive that has been passed.  In terms of governance, we need to follow 5 main principles: 1) Accountability, 2) transparency, 3) participation, 4) Effectiveness and efficiency and finally 5) Respect. Raymond Feron from the Dutch ministry for infrastructure and environment emphasised that there is a social change emerging. [End of Valentine’s notes]

The issues of operationalisation received attention – there are different projects, how far are we from large-scale deployment? Colin Chapman (Welsh Government) – maturity across observatory projects vary from case to case and across issues. Technologies are still maturing, there is a need to respond to issues and mobilise resources to address issues that citizens bring up. Systems approach to ecosystem management is also a factor in considering how to integrate observatories. There are too much reliance on macro modelling. A question for policy bodies is “can we incentivise citizens to collect data across policy areas?” for example invasive species, we can use the information in different areas from flood modelling to biodiversity management. David Stanners (EEA) noted that citizens observatories are vulnerable at this point in time and this lack of stability  and there are examples of projects that didn’t last. There are some inter-linkages, but not an ecology of observatories, of interconnectedness and ability to survive. Need better linkage with policy, but not across the board and no direct policy elements. The integration of citizens observatories is a fantastic opportunity at EU level – as issues of the environment suppose to be very visible. Raymond Feron noted that government might have issues in keeping pace with citizens actions. Government organisations need to learn how to integrate citizens observatories, need to learn to reuse parts. Integrate research programme with implementation strategy. James Curran also stated that working with anglers and other stakeholders can increase trust. In terms of quality and relevant, citizen science data is not different to other data. Laura Burke noted that no government have all the answers, and trust issues should be presented as such. Need to move away from concept of one organisation with a solution to any given problem. David Stanners raised the issues of truth seeking. Within the cupernicos programme, there are opportunities to support services with citizen science.

Following the point of views from the panellists, questions about trust, finding ways to include of people without access to technology were raised by the audience. The panellists agreed that from the point of view of policy makes the concept of citizens observatories is obvious but there is a need to make citizens observatories and citizen science activities sustainable and well-integrated in government activities. Interestingly, James Curran noted that the issue of data quality from citizen science is not a major obstacles, inherently because environmental authorities are used to make decisions that are risk based. There was willingness to work with intermediaries to reach out to under-represented groups. David Stanners called for  cross cutting meta-studies to understand citizens observations landscape.

The next series of presentations covered citizen science activities that are not part of the citizens observatories projects.

NoiseWatch/Marine litter watch (David Stanners, EEA) – Noisewatch was developed by the EEA and provie the modelling element, measurement, and citizen rating element. He argued that dB is not good measure, as noise is a perception issue and not about just measurement. NoiseWatch received an award in the Geospatial World Forum. It became global although it wasn’t promoted as such, with uptake in India and China and UNEP are considering to take it over and maintain it. Sustainability of NoiseWatch is a challenge for EEA and it might be more suitable in a global platform such as UNEP Live. NoiseWatch is seen as complementing existing monitoring stations because there as so few of them. When analysing the sources of the measurement, NoiseWatch get a lot of observations from roads, with 21% of industry noise – in total almost 195000 measurements. Another application is Marine LitterWatch which provides a way for people to share information about the state of beaches. The application is more complex as it embedded in protocol of data collection, and David argue that it is ‘more close to citizen science’, EEA got almost 7500 measurements with 144 events to use it, they are developing it further.

LakeWiki (Juhani Kettunen, who was not present) is an initiative that focus on motoring Finnish lakes – was launched by Syke and it is aimed to allow local communities to take care of their lakes, record information and build a long term observations. Simple platform, recording information such as ice break up but it is aimed to allow locals write about the lake, maintain observations sites, upload pictures, announce local events and write in discussion forums, 1400 sites [this project is also noted in COST Energic network]

Raymond Feron presented a programme in Netherlands called  digital Delta Initiative: partnership between research, public and government. IBM, TU Delft and government are involved. Trying to make water data available to everyone. focus of the system allow re-use of information, the government try to do things more efficiently, shorten time to market, improve quality of decisions, while also improving citizen participation. Ideas of increasing export to new places. Involving the public with dyke monitoring because they can do things locally easily.

I gave a talk about Mapping for Change air quality studies, and I hope to discuss them in a different post:

Claudia Goebel followed with a report on ECSA (see my report for ECSA meeting)

Antonoi Parodi from CIMA foundation discussed the DRIHM project. This is mostly a project focused on meteorological information. Issue of meteorology has a very long history of observations, going from 300 BC. There is plenty of reliance of observed patterns of events. Informal folklore was used by early meteorology citizen science. The middle ages, there are examples of getting information to deal with flash flood. Within the project they created a volunteer thinking platform to support classifications of thunderstorms. The Cb-TRAM monitoring observations of thunderstorms. Interestingly, a follow on question explored the link between extreme events (floods last year) and the role of the research project to provide relevant information.

The Socientize project was presented by Francisco Sanz, covering areas of digital science.

There was also a presentation from the SciCafe 2.0 project, including mentioning the European Observatory for Crowd-Sourcing . Another tool from the project is Citizens’ Say tool  

The final panel explored issues on the challenges of citizen science (I was part of this panel). The people on the panel were Jaume Piera (CITCLOPS),;Arne Berre (CITI-SENSE); Bart De Lathouwer (COBWEB); Philippe Valoggia (OMNISCIENTIS); Uta Wehn (WeSenseIt); Susanne Lützenkirchen, City of Oslo and myself.

Susanne noted that the city of Oslo developed some apps, such as safe for schools – people can experience their routes to schools and they are interested in more citizen science and citizen observatories.

Strategy for sustainability of engagement over time – Uta noted that the co-design process is very important and governance analysis to understand the processes and the local needs (in WeSenseIt). The observatories need to consider who are the partners – authorities are critical to see the value of observatories and provide feedback. Jaime suggested – identifying points in the project that give participants feeling that they are part of the process, allowing people to participate in different ways. Making people aware that they are part of the activities and they are valued. Showing the need for long-term observations. Susanne pointed that in Oslo there isn’t any simple answer – the issue of who are the citizens and in others it is a specific groups or more complex design sometime need to think who chose participants and how representative they are.

In WeSenseIT, they have privacy and consent setting – adhering to rules of social media, and it is an issue of data that came from other sources and how it is going to be reused. In general, Uta noted that WeSenseIt would like to try and make the data open as possible.

Data preservation is an issue – how data was handled, if we assume that there are probably 500 projects or more in Europe which is Max Craglia (JRC, who chaired the session) estimation. The issues of citizen observatories, we need to consider the individual data and there is sometime concern about releasing unvalidated data. Bart pointed that Cobweb is taking care of privacy and security of data and they are storing information about observers and there are privacy rules. Privacy legislation are local and need to follow the information. citizens see the benefit in what they collected and the sustainability of commitment. It is important to work with existing social structures and that provide opportunity for empowerment. Views about ownership of data were raised.

In terms of integration and synergy or interoperability of the citizen centred projects – interoperability is critical topic, the data need to be standardised and deal with the metadata (the most boring topic in the world). It should be collected at the right level. There is good foundation in GEOS and OGC, so we can consider how to do it.

What is the role of scientists? the role of scientists – there are partners who focus on dealing with the data and augment it with additional information and there is a role of managing the data. The link to policy also require an understanding of uncertainty. The discourse of science-policy is about what is considered as evidence. There is embracing of citizen science in environment agencies (which was demonstrated in the first panel), but there is a need for honest discussion about what happen to the data, and what degree citizens can participate in decision-making. Relevancy, legitimacy are critical to the understanding.

There was also call for accepting the uncertainty in the data – which is integral part of citizen science data. David Stanners emphasised the need for legitimacy of the information that is coming from citizens observatories as part of the trust that people put in contributing to them.

The final comments came from Andrea Tilche (Head of Unit Climate Actions and Earth Observation, DG R&I). The commission recognise that citizen observatories are not a replacement for institutional monitoring scheme (although he mentioned maybe in the future). The potential of engaging users is tremendous, and the conference demonstrated the energy and scale of activities that can be included in this area . The ownership of information need to be taken into account. We need to link and close the gaps with scientists and policy makers. We need to create market around the observatories – can’t only do it through project that disappear. There is a need for market of citizen observatories and business models. In the new call, they want to see the project generate and credible business processes. Citizens observatories will need demonstrate raising funding from other sources.


At the Crossroads of Urban Growth

Wuhan-Master-Plan

A spectre is haunting urban growth relating to how development is financed. My current editorial in Environment and Planning B (December 2014, issue 6) discusses the increasing disconnect between demand and supply of new buildings using the example of Wuhan in China where the dash for growth is turning traditional notions of how cities get built upside down. The prospects are frightening for there are many parts of the world where the economies might crash as the link between demand and supply is broken. We may well be in line for a series of linked credit crunches, one of which follows another as government debt, inflation, and the printing of money are increasingly out of step with what is feasible and sustainable.

The conventional wisdom is that developers borrow cash to construct buildings and infrastructure for which there is demonstrable demand, at least in the medium term. Banks that are risk averse will only lend money to those developers who have not only good track records but a convincing argument that their products will find a market. This is little different from any production which is predicated, to an extent, on present and future consumption. By and large for the last 200 years, this process had led to balanced supply with demand, notwithstanding more than normal profits being generated quite frequently. But in many parts of the world, particularly where urban growth is very rapid, a disconnect between the rate of growth and development and the rationale for its financing has emerged. In fact the credit crunch in the west and globally began with financial institutions lending to all and sundry without any of the collateral needed to justify this lending. This is being perpetuated particularly in China, and my editorial discusses some of the consequences.

 

 

http://www.spatialcomplexity.info/files/2014/12/b4106ed.pdf

Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces

We have just published a new paper in  Computers, Environment and Urban Systems entitled "Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces Through Community Detection And Clustering in Social Media Feeds". In the paper we explore how geosocial media is providing us with  a new social communication avenue and a novel source of geosocial information. 

In particular, we discuss the notion of physical presence within social media and its importance for exploring the relation between the cyber and the physical domains. We discuss how communities and groups can be detected in both the cyber and physical space, and how they can be processed to form a ‘hybrid’ geosocial view of communities using social network analysis, community detection (the Louvain method) and DenStream. To showcase these concepts and their benefits, we present the analysis of two case studies that make use of Twitter data associated with two different types of events: a planned activity during the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Day of Action (November 17th, 2011), and the response to the Boston Marathon Bombing (April 15, 2013). We conclude with a summary and outlook. Below is the abstract of the paper:
Over the last decade we have witnessed a significant growth in the use of social media. Interactions within their context lead to the establishment of groups that function at the intersection of the physical and cyber spaces, and as such represent hybrid communities. Gaining a better understanding of how information flows in these hybrid communities is a substantial scientific challenge with significant implications on our ability to better harness crowd-contributed content. This paper addresses this challenge by studying how information propagates and evolves over time at the intersection of the physical and cyber spaces. By analyzing the spatial footprint, social network structure, and content in both physical and cyber spaces we advance our understanding of the information propagation mechanisms in social media. The utility of this approach is demonstrated in two real-world case studies, the first reflecting a planned event (the Occupy Wall Street – OWS – movement’s Day of Action in November 2011), and the second reflecting an unexpected disaster (the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013). Our findings highlight the intricate nature of the propagation and evolution of information both within and across cyber and physical spaces, as well as the role of hybrid networks in the exchange of information between these spaces.

Research highlights include:
    • Our analysis includes two major events as captured in Twitter.
    • The themes in cyber and physical communities tend to converge over time.
    • Messages among physical space users are more consistent at the onset of the event.
    • Geolocated users are consuming information more than they produce.

      Below are some of the images from the paper. Specifically the first image is how one can think of the relationships between physical and cyber spaces.  The next image provides an overview Our geosocial analysis framework for examining cyber and physical communities.


      Our Geosocial analysis framework


      In the figure below we show an example of using DenStream for spatiotemporal clustering and how the process can capture the protest activities that were planned for the Occupy Wall Street movement’s Day of Action. Each dot corresponds to the originating location of a geolocated tweet; The color of each point indicates the time of the corresponding tweet, ranging from dark blue (early morning, 0) to dark red (late night, 1). While the circles represent a specific spatiotemporal cluster. For example the circle labeled A marked the start of the day where people congregated around Wall Street while circle labeled C shows a cluster at Foley Square.
      Physical space groups identified in the lower Manhattan area. Each dot corresponds to the originating location of a geolocated tweet; The color of each point indicates the time of the corresponding tweet, ranging from dark blue (early morning, 0) to dark red (late night, 1).

      While in the figure below we show one example of linking the cyber and physical communities. Specifically in (a), the top five communities (node degree > 100) in the cyber space retweet network (each community is designated by one color) are shown; (b) shows the physical space groups; and (c) shows the resulting  hybrid meta-network where the connections between physical groups (P nodes), and cyber space communities (C nodes) are shown.


      We hope you enjoy the paper.

      Full Reference:
      Croitoru, A., Wayant, N., Crooks, A.T., Radzikowski, J. and Stefanidis, A. (2014), Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces Through Community Detection And Clustering in Social Media Feeds, Computers, Environment and Urban Systemsdoi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2014.11.002

      Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces

      We have just published a new paper in  Computers, Environment and Urban Systems entitled "Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces Through Community Detection And Clustering in Social Media Feeds". In the paper we explore how geosocial media is providing us with  a new social communication avenue and a novel source of geosocial information. 

      In particular, we discuss the notion of physical presence within social media and its importance for exploring the relation between the cyber and the physical domains. We discuss how communities and groups can be detected in both the cyber and physical space, and how they can be processed to form a ‘hybrid’ geosocial view of communities using social network analysis, community detection (the Louvain method) and DenStream. To showcase these concepts and their benefits, we present the analysis of two case studies that make use of Twitter data associated with two different types of events: a planned activity during the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Day of Action (November 17th, 2011), and the response to the Boston Marathon Bombing (April 15, 2013). We conclude with a summary and outlook. Below is the abstract of the paper:
      Over the last decade we have witnessed a significant growth in the use of social media. Interactions within their context lead to the establishment of groups that function at the intersection of the physical and cyber spaces, and as such represent hybrid communities. Gaining a better understanding of how information flows in these hybrid communities is a substantial scientific challenge with significant implications on our ability to better harness crowd-contributed content. This paper addresses this challenge by studying how information propagates and evolves over time at the intersection of the physical and cyber spaces. By analyzing the spatial footprint, social network structure, and content in both physical and cyber spaces we advance our understanding of the information propagation mechanisms in social media. The utility of this approach is demonstrated in two real-world case studies, the first reflecting a planned event (the Occupy Wall Street – OWS – movement’s Day of Action in November 2011), and the second reflecting an unexpected disaster (the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013). Our findings highlight the intricate nature of the propagation and evolution of information both within and across cyber and physical spaces, as well as the role of hybrid networks in the exchange of information between these spaces.

      Research highlights include:
        • Our analysis includes two major events as captured in Twitter.
        • The themes in cyber and physical communities tend to converge over time.
        • Messages among physical space users are more consistent at the onset of the event.
        • Geolocated users are consuming information more than they produce.

          Below are some of the images from the paper. Specifically the first image is how one can think of the relationships between physical and cyber spaces.  The next image provides an overview Our geosocial analysis framework for examining cyber and physical communities.


          Our Geosocial analysis framework


          In the figure below we show an example of using DenStream for spatiotemporal clustering and how the process can capture the protest activities that were planned for the Occupy Wall Street movement’s Day of Action. Each dot corresponds to the originating location of a geolocated tweet; The color of each point indicates the time of the corresponding tweet, ranging from dark blue (early morning, 0) to dark red (late night, 1). While the circles represent a specific spatiotemporal cluster. For example the circle labeled A marked the start of the day where people congregated around Wall Street while circle labeled C shows a cluster at Foley Square.
          Physical space groups identified in the lower Manhattan area. Each dot corresponds to the originating location of a geolocated tweet; The color of each point indicates the time of the corresponding tweet, ranging from dark blue (early morning, 0) to dark red (late night, 1).

          While in the figure below we show one example of linking the cyber and physical communities. Specifically in (a), the top five communities (node degree > 100) in the cyber space retweet network (each community is designated by one color) are shown; (b) shows the physical space groups; and (c) shows the resulting  hybrid meta-network where the connections between physical groups (P nodes), and cyber space communities (C nodes) are shown.


          We hope you enjoy the paper.

          Full Reference:
          Croitoru, A., Wayant, N., Crooks, A.T., Radzikowski, J. and Stefanidis, A. (2014), Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces Through Community Detection And Clustering in Social Media Feeds, Computers, Environment and Urban Systemsdoi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2014.11.002

          Book Review: London Buildings – An Architectural Tour

          londonbuildings

          This book, which features great examples of London building architecture, is itself distinctively designed and immaculately presented. It’s been out for a couple of years now, however I was recommended it when purchasing another book recently on Amazon, as an impulse purchase, it’s an excellent find.

          The book was authored by Hannah Dipper and Robin Farquhar of People will always need plates and is based on their heavily stylised interpretation of the buildings featured.

          Each building featured in the book – there are around 45 – gets a two page spread, always in the same format – the building shown in white with clean strokes of detail in black, and a distinctive, single tone of colour for the sky. A small inset box includes the buliding name, architects, age and 100 words. That’s it.

          The book doesn’t just feature the modern Brutalist London landscape (e.g. Trellick Tower), and the latest modern skyscrapers (e.g. the Gherkin) it also includes such older gems as Butler’s Wharf and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. These two are treated to the wonderful, minimalistic sketch style, with just the two colours allowing the design detail of the building itself to take centre stage.

          On Amazon: London Buildings: An Architectural Tour, currently for £9.99. Published by Batsford, an imprint of Anova Books.

          Image from the London Design Guide website.

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

          The London Sitcom Map

          usvsth3m-london-sitcom-map-full-size3

          UsVsThem, prolific creators of topical news games (more!), have put together this great looking map showing the London locations of a large number of classic British sitcoms. There’s a good spread across the whole of London, except in the south-east. Like tube lines, it seems sitcoms ignore this part of London. And as one Reddit commenter (where I first noticed the map) noted, many of the classic sitcoms were set in, at the time, tough looking neighbourhoods, most of which have now gentrified to the point that the programmes would have appear to have a very different setting if they were filmed there now.

          The map includes Birds of a Feather which is based in Chingford – although technically that’s not London, the area certainly feels like it is, so it’s very worthy of inclusion in a London map like this.

          We like the adornments surrounding the map itself – it’s constructed within an old-style TV set and includes caricatures of some of the most famous faces of London sitcoms. Like all good London maps, it also includes the Thames – Londoners’ standard point of reference. The map itself is clear and simple, with the borough boundaries drawn in for context, and little else, so that the map doesn’t distract from the main emphasis of the graphic – that London has played host to a great number of our TV comedies.

          (While we are on the topic of UsVsThem, here’s a great “guess the mystery tube station” game. Think you know the standard tube map by heart?)

          Map created by UsVsThem, based on an original set of data on a Google Map researched by Jonn Elledge.

          EU BON round table discussion on supporting citizen science, Berlin

          The EU BON is a European project, focusing on building the European Biodiversity Observation Network. Now, with the growing recognition of citizen science as a source of biodiversity observations, a meeting dedicated to the intersection was organised in Berlin today, following the ECSA meeting

          The project carried out gap analysis of the available data, which also explores the role of citizen science data. Understanding these aspects was the motivation for the meeting.

          Jose Miguel Rubio Iglesias (DG R&I) discussed the link between science-society-policy at the EU level. He noted that Citizen Science has an established tradition, especially in environmental observations. There is no common definition, interpretation and classification for citizen science. Some typologies are based on project goals, degree of citizen engagement (contributory, collaborative, co-created) and links to policy. There are studies that were created by scientists and those that were created by citizens. There are new initiatives that emerge from new technologies (citizen cyberscience). He noted that ICT tools provide both opportunity to participate and also access to the latest science. Collaborative power of ICT can allow influencing environmental policy, and lead to more sustainable behaviour and lifestyle. The challenges that are linked to citizen science, include: engaging broader spectrum of society, beyond those who have access to smartphone but also not well off; Recognition of the work by scientists and policy makers; how to guarantee that there is action on the findings;  quality of data; security and privacy of data about participants; incorporating local knowledge – not only seeing citizens as sensors but co-design; and acknowledging ownership and feedback. There is also criticism – do we need to use ICT in the first place?

          The background for the policy aspect of citizen science can be the Aarhus convention (1998) the emphasised public participation in decision making which was translated to Directive 2003/35/EC. In the SEIS implementation outlook, it was realised that citizens also provide information and not just consumed information, as this is also reflected in the 7th environment action programme 2014-2020 in priority objective 5 which focused on improving knowledge and evidence for EU environment policy. Citizen science is mentioned in the text.

          The policy perspectives of dealing with the gap between citizen science and policy is done through several activities – the work on responsible research & innovation is relevant, although it includes wider societal issues such as gender.digital Science is another importance area for the EU, looking at the ICT enabled transformation of science – so open access and citizen engagement. Finally, the area of global systems science, where there is the need to allow citizens to participate. Finally, there is the need to progress the concept of citizen observatories. One definition is “communities of citizens sharing technological solutions and community participatory governance methods aided by social media streams with the objectives to deliver environmental observations”. Issues that are open include level of maturity of solutions, ways of citizens to influence environmental policy making etc. The scientific perspectice include data management and conflation with authoritative data. There is a need to narrow the gap between citizens-science and policy, but need to develop truly participatory process.

          Christoph  Häuser is the coordinator of EU BON. He noted that biodiversity is critical for the life support of the planet, but biodiversity observations are varied, so GBIF data portal demonstrate that information is not covering many areas. The structure of the project (which got 30 partners and it is 5 years long) is around creating data sources and infrastructure and then science and application, and finally policy and dialogue. There are many links to citizen science – data sources and mobilising involvement in adding observation records, exploring the data generations by citizens. Trying to do that through a science-based social network with communities of practice, and a technological network of interoperable sources and trying to use existing infrastructure instead of adding new one.

          Citizen science can be used for biodiversity assessment and monitoring, using technology based recording schemes, adding to environmental education and supporting education network, so trying to. In the Museum fur Naturkunde Berlin they created an app for anymals + plants to allow recording information that is available in the area, using GBIF.

          Lucy Robinson from the NHM in London, provided a European perspective on citizen science. The NHM got interface between science and public engagement. The museum been doing citizen science for 10 years, supporting amateur experts – and they have citizen science in the galleries and encouraging people to carry it out after the visit to the museum. The aim of citizen science at the NHM is about engagement, education and delivering high impact scientific research. The definition that NHM use is citizen science the involvement of volunteers that contribute to scientific endeavour – research or monitoring. It is possible to define what is not citizen science: when the data is not usable at the end, as well as science communication projects. Citizen science is not replacing existing monitoring activities and need to be aware that it won’t replace existing effort, and it cost about £100,000 per year to run per project. There are key drivers – for scientific levels, policy and human levels. Need to maximise the potential of citizen science projects without squashing projects, and the awareness of citizen science over the past 5-10 years it been growing very fast. There are grouping of European Natural History museums, and ECSA which provide opportunities to share best practice. She explained the role of ECSA and the 10 principles of citizen science. One of the follow on questions was about the definition of what is a citizen scientist, and the ability to act as professional scientist during the day and citizen scientist as a volunteer in their free time.

          The second session of the day focused on data mobilisation. Antonio Garcia Camacho discussed the EU BON biodiversity data portal, which integrates data from GBIF and LTER centres, with taxonomy providers. He gave a demonstration of the system.

          Jaume Piera discussed the requirements, as in yesterday, highlighting that the process is not unidirectional from monitoring to delivery, but to have multiple loops that people collect information and use it at any stag. in collaborative citizen science there is a need to use social media channels – the requirements are: engagements, data qualification, tracking systems (who is using my data and what for, do I agree with it), privacy rules and system integration. Requirement model
          He explains, with examples, the advantages of data access tracking. With this system, it is possible to provide recognition to contributions and efforts to the people that contributed and manipulated the data. Questions in the discussion explored the traceability, metadata and trust in the data, keeping trace of what happen to the information is important.

          The final presentation from Simao Belchior of Vizzuality, explored the fall of dta portals and the future of data workflow or data access, visualisation and products. Vizzuality created different products that are easy to use and well design, including Global Forest Watch. With their focus on visualisation, they emphasise the move to publishing information in portals – data is available on line, but not accessible.There is also an issue with too much data that stream from new systems. The suggestion is to develop applications that allow doing things when they the people who use them need them – doing one thing well. Likely the same app will not fit all needs and users. Some examples of that include zooniverse projects.

          The follow on discussion raised the issue the ability to explore new data set and find unknown patterns in comparison to well designed, but limited to specific task, applications. For the flexibility, data download and API can help, but this bring challenges of using GIS, for example.

          The afternoon explored some data providers. Veljo Runnel presented a survey about researchers readiness for citizen science data in Estonia – in the Baltic countries, the term is not familiar. Researchers are willing to engage volunteers (85%) even though they are not using them. NGOs are more engaged with volunteers and government agencies, but scientist in universities are less willing to do so. The reason for engaging with volunteers – not enough resources, big effort to engage and don’t have capabilities – or the data is too specific to be suitable, and of course, concern about data quality.

          Christos Arvanitidis, talked about crowdsourcing initiative in the meditaranian area. The citizen science projects include: COMBER - sea life, CIGESMED - evaluation the good environmental status of Corals. They try to develop indicators and engage divers to provide information – pictures in predefined states , AmvrakikosBirds is a project to support bird watching in the Amvrakikos gulf. COMBER, which is about fish and sea life, is done with diving and sailing clubs – so not experience divers, this is challenging to do and they use the BIO-WATCH card of identification of fishes types, and also work with divers and snorkelers community. Submitting observations through a website. Information is going from COMBER to Anymals.org and they have a mobile app that allow submitting data.

          Nils Valland (Norway) talked about citizen science and species occurrence data in Europe. He assumes 150 portals/sytems around, about 120-250 mil records. This lead to a total of 207.7 mil records, but only 92.5 mil are in GBIF, so most is not available. Key success factors (from the Norwey system), for quantity – need effective UI, rich services for the user, and environmental impact. For quality, need basic knowledge and motivations, no anonymous login, visibility – report first, qa later, informal voluntary QA and validation on priority species. The accessability of the data require cooperation governmental institutions and NGO, effective data distribution and open license

          The artsobservasjoner is the Swedish and Norwegian system for nature observations. They work with 5 NGOs in Norway, 150 validators, and 9000 participants contributing 11.6 million records with 14,000 species.

          Dirk Schmeller covered Volunteer Species Monitoring in Europe. Volunteer eager to help monitoring around Europe. The EuMon documents 395 monitoring schemes, annual costs of 4 mil EUR and involving 46,000 people, putting in 148,000 person-day/year to biodiversity monitoring (Schmeller et al 2009). There is a need for government support to make this happen – from public institutions, scientists and managers. It’s a serivce the public give to policy . The more people there are in a programme, the more sites are cover (of course). The EU BON portal need to support volunteers.

          Pierre-Philippe Mathieu fro ESA-ESRIN discussed the new era for ESA – the launch of Sentinel 1 will provide monitoring for several decades, fully open and accessible data. SAR sattelite can be used from sea ice to land use. ESA see the societal need, and paying attention to Nexus issues. They try to do science in society – ESA will produce a lot of data, and putting all the data together will be a challenge. We will get ZettaB, problems with filtering information. Volume of data is unmanagable, and developing the ability to deal with the data before delivering a product – it will see it as data management issue. RS data need interpretation, so need to figure out how to build components that allow analysis as the data come in. Some citizen science activities – e.g. the geowiki application that allow people to classify information about land use are relevant to ESA. There is also the post-2015 devleopment goals – they want to be able to use crowd sourcing and working through data revolution.

          Fermin Serrano Sanz covered Socientize project and the white paper on citizen science. The white paper came with over 200 contributors. At the macro level, they recommend ‘citizen science think tank’ for promotion, coordination, monitoring, evaluation, collaboration. At the meso level, body like ECSA with adaptable guidelines.

          Luigi Ceccaroni covered the citclops project about the marine area, and examples of optical monitoring of marine environments. The observations are about the colour, transperancy and fluorescence of water. They focus specifically on DIY, low costs sensors.

          Jamie Williams covered COBWEB, consume crowd sourced environmental data, then autmatic quality measure and outputing to standards such as INSPIRE. They specifically focus through GEOSS without resriction. The aim is that sensors in the environment, and the crowd provide the information and improve it. They focus on UNESCO world network or Biospehere reserve – they will extend to Greece and Germany. Several demonstration applications – validating earth observations, biological monitoring and flooding. Engagement with school, marine research centre, RSPB orgnaisation, educational charity, park authority and other bodies. They are co-designing the software according to what they would want to do. The co-design is with group from 15 to 100 and they got project contacts and person that is in charge of working with them. The community champions work with project person to discuss the applications with the developer – not direct link community – developer to ensure translation.

          Siro Masinde discuss citizen science in GBIF. GBIF – 52 countries and 40  organisation. free and open access biodiversity data and promote common standards and tools and guiding national information facilities. GBIF got 517M specific records, 1.45 mil species and 13,945 datasets. About 33% are from citizen science. Most of it are charismatic taxa nad easy to recongize – birds and butterfly and grasses. Data from citizen science is key to some taxa groups. The sources for citizen science data include data from ireland (bioblitz), denmark, costa rica etc. eBird, iNaturalist, Anymals_plants, Diveboard and the scnadinavian networks. They have crowdsourcing projects in france, Australia nad Norway. Transcriptions are helping with that. eBird highly significant, when removing it, Sweden and UK come to the top contribution. They would like to have endorsement of datasets and community assessment and evaluation of data set before publication, also would like to see quality and fitness for use information, and some reference datasets.


          European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) general assembly (Berlin)

          The European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) reached an important stage in its development, with a general assembly in Berlin on 26th November 2014. The organisation was finally formally registered as a German charity in April, so now it’s time to consider future directions and developments. The assembly had about 50 participants with new members joining in the association, which now has a full time staff member. As in many organisations, one there is someone with a day job of running the organisation, things start to happen.

          Andrea Sforzi, one of the trustees started the day discussing its history – from early discussions in July 2012 to setting up the organisation, registration and to the current day. He noted that there are positive policy indication about the role of citizen science, e.g. the report to the EU from December 2013, which recognised that the potential of environmental citizen science has largely untapped. With the White Paper on citizen science from Socientize, we now have policy documents to support citizen science and we should use them to develop the field. In terms of the strengths, ECSA already building on strong core organisations. On the weakness side, there is wide variety of citizen science across and inside EU countries, as well as a need for funding, and business structures are still unstable. There is also ongoing challenges over the scientific value of data. Some of the challenges that ECSA need to deal with are cultural differences, different tools, and re-evaluate the role of people and to invest in citizen scientists. Maintain interest and participation over time. External challenges are the acceptance of data. Andrea pointed that we need to share experiences, stay inclusive, broad and open minded – people before data!! We need to accelerate the development of the network, and national communities, how to assure guidance and maintain a ballanced approach among the different topics within ECSA.

          We have also an address from Jose Miguel Rubio Iglesias from the Climate Actions and Earth Observations unit (DG R&I) covered the citizens’ observatory. He suggested some possible definitions from the current set of projects, but in many of the current definitions of citizen observatories there is too much focus on ICT and the definition need to move to people. From the EC guidance to the goals of Horizon 2020, there is an emphasis on participatory democracy in terms of the environment, empower citizens to make informed decisions, engaging broader spectrum in terms of awareness and environmental protections. There is also potential to empower communities and get in-situ monitoring while reducing costs (a win win situation). The set of citizens’ observatories that is currently running already providing demonstration, and starting to see pilot activities and the development of working methods to establish citizens observatories. For example, WeSenseIt created some applications – smart umbrella and the commission want to see also jobs creation from observatories through innovation. Citclops – started to engage stakeholder communities and validated their results. They take open data and DIY apporach – need to see how it continue after the project. Omniscientis is a project that just finished, with odor monitoring and worked as an open lab approach – an app Odomap released.Citi-sense about to launch city scale projects, and developed a range of sensors. All in all good development for the next call, with total budget of 20 mil EU and expectations of proposals of 3-5 mil. There is awareness at the EC that it’s early stage for development. They want to see more examples of co-designed approach rather than treating citizens as data collectors.

          Elizabeth Tyson reported on the workshop that was just completed in the US, exploring how to integrate citizen science in national climate assessment

          Guillermo Santamaria Pampliega gave a video talk, and highlighted the commonalities between citizen science and RRI. Because Citizen science links engagement, co-responsibility, co-creation, inclusiveness, sustainability, and openness, this make it very similar to RRI – thinking about thew process of science but also the outcomes.

          Claudia Goebel (who is working for ECSA now!) discussed the work programme for 2015 – communication and engagement with citizens and scientists, organisational development and networking, piloting EU wide citizen science programmes, EU policy engagement, collecting and engaging best practices, EU participatory data access and handling system. These were then covered by people from the different working group of ECSA

          A lot of discussion followed Lucy Robinson’s presentation of the 10 principles of citizen science – trying to move from principles to a final version that will go on the site. Jade Cawthray from NHM discussed the developing a guidance on best practices – something like 15 pages, covering issues of running citizen science projects, bioblitzes, a lot to discuss on data handling and sharing, and the quality. Also covered will be open access and how it is possible to access to people – to what degree it is suitable for citizen scientists to read. Finally evaluation, recruitment , motivation of volunteers.

          The discussion of the principles focused on understanding what research mean – does it need to be hypothesis led or not, and how to provide space for discoveries and monitoring.

          Jaume Piera discussed the current concept of developing ECSA data portal came next. The role of citizens need to be different – closing the loop by giving them access and control over the data. Not just extractive relationship to their work but also allowing them to participate in the process. Expectations are that there will be different quality of information and data but still keep it all. The way to do that is to have integration of general public and scientists. The need for a new portal is to have engagement abilities, some data qualification – not to say that it’s not valid. Include labels for the data. Need tracking systems – who is using my data, and what for. Need to consider privacy rules and system integration with other systems. Considering the built up on the basis of iNaturalist,

          In the discussion it was highlighted that the portal need to be linked to other working groups of ECSA.

          Martin Brocklehurst – was pointing that current regulations and directives do not include citizen science and suggested policy direction. There are discussions within the commission about the citizen science white papers. There is plenty of resistance in policy makers about the data quality and there are different view. But is ECSA ready for promoting policy and substantiate  it with good evidence that will convince policy makers? It might be possible to develop a road map of how to put citizen science into directives and policy. Some directives are already blocking citizen science data and need to be changed.

          Poppy Lakeman-Fraser -discussed the communication and conference directions. Issues that are considered are the form of membership (paid/unpaid) and benefits. There is a need to further work on the reason for people to participate.There was early discussion on the directions of the planned conference for February 2016.

          Most of the afternoon focus on procedural aspects – which is a good thing, as the organisation is starting to take shape. An advisory board was elected, changes to the articles of association, discussion of budget, and plans for funding. The positive atmosphere and the willingness of current members to contribute to ECSA is encouraging.

          During the day, I have acted as a representative of the Citizen Science Association (CSA) while also being a member of ECSA. There was interest in the development of the journal ‘citizen science: theory and practice’ and interest in the process of forming the CSA. Many people plan to come to the CSA conference next February which is a good thing, and the memorandum of understanding between ECSA, CSA and the Citizen Science Network Australia was adopted in the final call. People were especially interest in the wide reach of disciplines that CSA includes.


          OpenStreetMappers of London

          IMG_1370

          I contributed a number of graphics to LONDON: The Information Capital, a book co-written by Dr James Cheshire, also of UCL Geography. Two of my graphics that made it into the book were based on data from OpenStreetMap, a huge dataset of spatial data throughout the world. This first graphic forms one of the chapter intro pages, and colours all the roads, streets and paths in the Greater London Authority area (around 160,000 “ways” which are discrete sections of road/path) according to the person who most recently updated them. Over 1500 indivdual users helped create and refine the map, and all are featured here. I was pleased to discover I was the 21st most prolific, with 1695 ways most recently modified by myself at the time that the graphic was produced.

          The more active users will typically have areas around home and work which they intensively map, plus other, smaller areas such as contributions made during a mapping party or other social event organised by/for the London OSM community. Here’s an example filtering for just one user:

          osm_dan

          Putting the users together reveals a patchwork of key authors and more minor contributors, together forming a comprehensive map of the city. Detail levels vary, partly as the fabric of the city varies from area to aream, but also as some contributors will be careful to map every path and alleyway, while others will concentrate on the driveable road network.

          osm_detail

          The data was obtained from a local copy of the OpenStreetMap database, for Great Britain, that I maintain for various pieces of work including OpenOrienteeringMap. You can obtain the data files from GeoFabrik (this link is to their new London-only version). The data was captured in early 2014.

          You can download a file which matches the colours to the contributor names, and also a file that has counts of the numbers of ways mapped for each contributor. Note that both these files actually are for an area that was slightly larger than the Greater London Authority extent – a buffer from Ordnance Survey Open Data Boundary-Line was used to mask out the non-GLA areas.

          I used QGIS to assemble the data and applied the temp-c colour ramp, classifying across all the contributors – I then changed the ones which were assigned a white colour, to green. The colours used in the book are slightly different as some additional editing took place after I handed the graphic over.

          osm_book
          View larger version.

          Download:

          If you like this thing, it’s worth noting that Eric Fischer independently produced a similar graphic last year, for the whole world. (Interactive version).

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

          Virtuální Geografická Prostředí

          VGE-Czech

          Well I don’t know what it means either. But if you read Czech you should be off to a flying start, and the Czech guy who translated it assures me that all of Eastern Europe read Czech so there you are. Well, Virtuální Geografická Prostředí or in more familiar terms Virtual Geographic Environments is the term increasingly used to embrace a range of technologies that seek to extend GIS into wider digital contexts – the web, VR, and associated ways of interacting with spatial media. Hui Lin at the Chinese University of Hong Kong popularised the term through a series of conferences and papers over the last decade or longer, and our English version of the book contains the papers presented at the second conference held at the CUHK in 2008. It is published by ESRI Press in the west. It contains the papers from the second conference on VGE held in January 2008, and some of our colleagues in CASA have papers in the volume. The picture of the ‘death star’ type globe was generated by our illustrious Director Andy Hudson-Smith. More information on the recent conference at CUHK is available on the web site.

          Mapping London at the 10×10 Charity Auction

          10x10_jamesollie_detail

          Mapping London editors James and Ollie were invited earlier this year to create a drawing for the 10×10 charity auction taking place later this week in London. The auction is organised by Article 25, an architectural charity (we took part last year too) and each invited artist is assigned a grid square somewhere in central London, to act as a focal point for producing an artwork. This year, our assigned square was in Bermondsey, just out from London Bridge Station and including Bermondsey Street and Tooley Street. It’s an area teeming with history, and one that has evolved rapidly recently. With that in mind, we wanted to focus on revealing the past in an unusual way, so we started with an old Ordnance Survey map, a scan of which was kindly loaned to us by the London School of Economics. We took the scan and reworked the colours and fonts, to give it a more contemporary look while still retaining the historic structure. The work is digitally printed onto a 60x60cm art canvas, then mounted on a simple wooden frame. It is unique, an edition of 1!

          For the caption, we wrote:

          This artwork reinterprets an 1895 Ordnance Survey map of Borough/Bermondsey in a modern way, recolouring and highlighting key features to present a new view of a historic and culturally rich neighbourhood. When studying the original map, we were struck by the quantity and variety of industry present in the area 119 years ago. Each factory has been carefully relabelled in a modern font while retaining the old spelling. From leather tanning to chocolate making, by way of a brewery, the artwork invites the viewer to look again at a familiar part of London.

          We are in illustrious company again this year, with submissions from famous names such as Anthony Gormley and Norman Ackroyd. But hopefully our own little piece will make a small contribution to the fundraising effort too. You can see the details of our artwork, and an online bidding page, on the 10×10 website.

          The online auction ends at midnight tonight and the live auction is on Thursday at the Shard. Place your bids!

          10x10_jamesollie

          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

           

           

          QMRG Committee Timeline

          Quite a long time ago I spent considerable hours trawling through QMRG reports that featured in old issues of Area and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers to examine how the committee had evolved over time. In these pre R days, I assembled these into a spreadsheet (sorry!) of both the report text, and also as a timeline. You can download both of these files on the github repository.

          These files have sat on my machine for years, however, I thought they would make a nice addition to the new combined QMRG and GIScRG website - Quantile. As such, I have generate a D3 timeline of the committee membership, and assembled a chronology of events - the code is also on github here.

          I would not claim that this is comprehensive, and only features those entries gathered from the reports. If you were involved in the committee and are missing, or the dates are not quite correct, then let me know.

          View the timeline here

          node.js

          Simplify a Shapefile with Mapshaper on OSX

          Yesterday I needed to simplify a shapefile quite substantially to get the size down enough that it could be loaded into CartoDB. Using QGIS this tended to leave sliver or gaps between polygons, but I came across Mapshaper. This is primarily a command line tool and is built on node.js. However, a web version also exists. There are a load really useful GIS functions such as simplifying, clipping, dissolve, joins and merges.

          Using Mapshaper on OSX

          From install to use (including node.js) was about two minutes...

          The first step is to install node.js; visit the website and download the package by clicking the install button on the homepage. Run the install and follow through the instructions. This will install node.js on your computer - this is a platform built on Chrome's JavaScript runtime for developing applications. Node.js is cropping up in lots of new applications - for example, the new blogging system Ghost.

          node.js

          After install of node.js, you need to install Mapshaper which can be done by running the following on the terminal:

          npm install -g mapshaper
          

          If you get an error about permissions when running the above, you might have to preface the command with sudo (which will ask you for a password):

          sudo npm install -g mapshaper
          

          After this you are done. In my case, I was interested in simplifying a shapefile (located in my Dropbox) which I could complete with the following command (the % are the percentage of removable points to retain). The first shapefile listed is the input, and the second the desired output.

          mapshaper /Users/alex/Dropbox/US_tract_clusters_new.shp -simplify 1% -o /Users/alex/Dropbox/US_tract_clusters_new_05pct.shp
          

          Examples of the output:

          Original Shapefile

          Simplified Shapefile

          Thanks to the developers.

          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

          Visit the new oobrien.com Shop
          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!

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