A Survey of the use of Geographic Information Systems in English Local Authority Impact Assessments.

Across the public sector, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis are increasingly ubiquitous when making decisions involving people and places. However, historically GIS has not been prevalently applied to the various types of impact assessment. As such, this paper presents findings from a survey conducted in 2011 of 100 local authorities in England to […]

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Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers vritual issue on GIScience

Since early 2010, I had the privilege of being a member of the editorial board of the journal Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers . It is a fascinating position, as the journal covers a wide range of topics in geography, and is also recognised as one of the top journals in the field […]

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New paper: Agent-based modeling for community resource management: Acequia-based agriculture

We have just got a paper accepted in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems entitled “Agent-based modeling for community resource management: Acequia-based agriculture.” In the paper we explore the complex social interactions of water management, which involves landowners collectively maintaining and managing ditches which distribute water among the properties.

This system of the physical ditches and the maintaining organization together is known as an acequia, and the landowners who maintain it are called Parciantes. Acequias are interesting to researchers because of the developed common property regimes they require to function. The water carried by the ditches is a shared resource, and the complex management system of the acequia has evolved to avoid Hardin’s tragedy of the commons with regard to natural resources in the sense that it prevents the resource from being overused or under-maintained to the detriment of everyone. Ostrom has extensively studied the process of sharing such resources, investigating the structures set in place to preserve them. In ‘‘Governing the Commons’’, her book on common pool resources and human–ecosystem interactions, she suggests a set of characteristics that define stable communal social mechanisms. These characteristics include the presence of environment-appropriate rules governing the use of collective goods and the efficacy of individuals in the system.

Below is the abstract from the paper:

Water management is a major concern across the world. From northern China to the Middle East to Africa to the United States, growing populations can stress local water resources as they demand more water for both direct consumption and agriculture. Irrigation based agriculture draws especially heavily on these resources and usually cannot survive without them; however, irrigation systems must be maintained, a task individual agriculturalists cannot bear alone. We have constructed an agent-based model to investigate the significant interaction and cumulative impact of the physical water system, local social and institutional structures which regulate water use, and the real estate market on the sustainability of traditional farming as a lifestyle in the northern New Mexico area. The regional term for the coupled social organization and physical system of irrigation is ‘‘acequias’’. The results of the model show that depending on the future patterns of weather and government regulations, acequia-based farming may continue at near current rates, shrink significantly but continue to exist, or disappear altogether.
In the figure below we show some of our efforts in verification of the model, specifically, the water network, after 100 years of regular maintenance (A) and after 100 years of no maintenance (B). The darker the line, the more clear the segment is of sedimentation; only unmaintained acequias are impacted by sedimentation in this model, and appear in lighter shades.

Below is a movie are a few sample model runs showing how different scenarios play out, specifically with respect to land-use change.

Full reference:

Wise, S. and Crooks, A. T. (2012), Agent Based Modelling and GIS for Community Resource Management: Acequia-based Agriculture, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2012.08.004.
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New paper: Agent-based modeling for community resource management: Acequia-based agriculture

We have just got a paper accepted in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems entitled “Agent-based modeling for community resource management: Acequia-based agriculture.” In the paper we explore the complex social interactions of water management, which involves landowners collectively maintaining and managing ditches which distribute water among the properties.

This system of the physical ditches and the maintaining organization together is known as an acequia, and the landowners who maintain it are called Parciantes. Acequias are interesting to researchers because of the developed common property regimes they require to function. The water carried by the ditches is a shared resource, and the complex management system of the acequia has evolved to avoid Hardin’s tragedy of the commons with regard to natural resources in the sense that it prevents the resource from being overused or under-maintained to the detriment of everyone. Ostrom has extensively studied the process of sharing such resources, investigating the structures set in place to preserve them. In ‘‘Governing the Commons’’, her book on common pool resources and human–ecosystem interactions, she suggests a set of characteristics that define stable communal social mechanisms. These characteristics include the presence of environment-appropriate rules governing the use of collective goods and the efficacy of individuals in the system.

Below is the abstract from the paper:

Water management is a major concern across the world. From northern China to the Middle East to Africa to the United States, growing populations can stress local water resources as they demand more water for both direct consumption and agriculture. Irrigation based agriculture draws especially heavily on these resources and usually cannot survive without them; however, irrigation systems must be maintained, a task individual agriculturalists cannot bear alone. We have constructed an agent-based model to investigate the significant interaction and cumulative impact of the physical water system, local social and institutional structures which regulate water use, and the real estate market on the sustainability of traditional farming as a lifestyle in the northern New Mexico area. The regional term for the coupled social organization and physical system of irrigation is ‘‘acequias’’. The results of the model show that depending on the future patterns of weather and government regulations, acequia-based farming may continue at near current rates, shrink significantly but continue to exist, or disappear altogether.
In the figure below we show some of our efforts in verification of the model, specifically, the water network, after 100 years of regular maintenance (A) and after 100 years of no maintenance (B). The darker the line, the more clear the segment is of sedimentation; only unmaintained acequias are impacted by sedimentation in this model, and appear in lighter shades.

Below is a movie are a few sample model runs showing how different scenarios play out, specifically with respect to land-use change.

Full reference:

Wise, S. and Crooks, A. T. (2012), Agent Based Modelling and GIS for Community Resource Management: Acequia-based Agriculture, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2012.08.004.
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Picking Up Raster GIS Skills

Do you need to work with satellite images or datasets that are gridded? By gridded I mean data that are stored in grid like cells such as heights of the earth (or a digital elevation model), a global land cover map or gridded populations of the world? There are many other gridded datasets available, e.g. … Read more

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Using the OSTN02 transformation in PostGIS

When converting coordinates between WGS84 (GPS) and OSGB36 (UK National Grid), using OSTN02 can gain us a few metres in accuracy over the basic parametric transformation provided by PostGIS’s st_transform via PROJ.4. Happily, Ordnance Survey now distribute an NTv2 version of the OSTN02 transformation, courtesy of the Defence Geographic Centre, which can be used by […]

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Natural Disasters and Crowdsourcing: Haiti

Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis occur all over the world, altering the physical landscape and often severely disrupting people’s daily lives. Recently researchers’ attention has focused on using crowds of volunteers to help map the infrastructure and devastation caused by natural disasters, such as those in Haiti and Pakistan. For example, in the movie below shows the response to the earthquake by the OpenStreetMap community within 12 hours of the earthquake. The white flashes indicate edits to the map (often by tracing satellite/aerial photography).
While this data is extremely useful, as it is allows us to assess damage and thus aid the distribution of relief, but it tells us little about how the people in such areas will react to the devastation, the supply of food, or the reconstruction. To address this, we are exploring how agent-based modeling can be used to explore peoples reactions. To do this we have created a prototype spatially explicit agent-based model, created using crowdsourced geographic information and other sources of publicly available data, which can be used to study the aftermath of a catastrophic event. The specific case modeled here is the Haiti earthquake of January 2010. Crowdsourced data is used to build the initial populations of people affected by the event, to construct their environment, and to set their needs based on the damage to buildings. 

The idea behind the model is to explore how people react to the distribution of aid, as well as how rumors propagating through the population and crowding around aid distribution points might lead to food riots and similar social phenomena. Such a model could potentially provide a link between socio-cultural information of the people affected and relevant humanitarian relief organizations.

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The animation above shows one simulation run where there is the spread of  information and agent movement (red dots) around one center (blue dot). While the chart below shows how over time the density of agents around the food station increases over time.

The idea behind such a model is one can take crowdsourced information and fuse it into an agent-based model and see how people will react to the distribution of food centers. For example, the movie below shows how agents find out about four (hypothetical) different food centers and decide whether or not to go to them in a 6 by 8km area of Port-au-Prince.

Spread of information and agent movement (red dots) in a 6 by 8km area of Port-au-Prince.
More details about this model to come……
Continue reading »

Natural Disasters and Crowdsourcing: Haiti

Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis occur all over the world, altering the physical landscape and often severely disrupting people’s daily lives. Recently researchers’ attention has focused on using crowds of volunteers to help map the infrastructure and devastation caused by natural disasters, such as those in Haiti and Pakistan. For example, in the movie below shows the response to the earthquake by the OpenStreetMap community within 12 hours of the earthquake. The white flashes indicate edits to the map (often by tracing satellite/aerial photography).
While this data is extremely useful, as it is allows us to assess damage and thus aid the distribution of relief, but it tells us little about how the people in such areas will react to the devastation, the supply of food, or the reconstruction. To address this, we are exploring how agent-based modeling can be used to explore peoples reactions. To do this we have created a prototype spatially explicit agent-based model, created using crowdsourced geographic information and other sources of publicly available data, which can be used to study the aftermath of a catastrophic event. The specific case modeled here is the Haiti earthquake of January 2010. Crowdsourced data is used to build the initial populations of people affected by the event, to construct their environment, and to set their needs based on the damage to buildings. 

The idea behind the model is to explore how people react to the distribution of aid, as well as how rumors propagating through the population and crowding around aid distribution points might lead to food riots and similar social phenomena. Such a model could potentially provide a link between socio-cultural information of the people affected and relevant humanitarian relief organizations.

<p><p>sssss</p></p>

The animation above shows one simulation run where there is the spread of  information and agent movement (red dots) around one center (blue dot). While the chart below shows how over time the density of agents around the food station increases over time.

The idea behind such a model is one can take crowdsourced information and fuse it into an agent-based model and see how people will react to the distribution of food centers. For example, the movie below shows how agents find out about four (hypothetical) different food centers and decide whether or not to go to them in a 6 by 8km area of Port-au-Prince.

Spread of information and agent movement (red dots) in a 6 by 8km area of Port-au-Prince.
More details about this model to come……
Continue reading »

Workshop- Mapping Social Interactions Online, Oxford Internet Institute



Last Friday (9thMarch), Oxford Internet Institute (OII) opened Internet research methodology workshop- Mapping Social Interactions Online at OII seminar room. It was one of OII’s successive workshop ‘Beyond Survey’ in 2011-2012.
This workshop was mainly composed of two parts. Dr Mark Graham led one part with the topic of Mapping with GIS and Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon gave a lecture of social networks. Because the most participants are doing interdisciplinary researches which have a link to internet studies and they might not know well the methodologies of the studies, two lecturers introduced fundamental information and some basic program tools for further researches.
The research interest of Dr Mark Graham could be understood as ‘Intersection between ICT (Internet Communication Technology) and Geography’. He introduced GIS to catch and visualize invisible internet flows and social networks, and explained the concept of projection, the difference between Quantitative map and Qualitative map and some kinds of GIS programmes. While some professional GIS programmes like Arc GIS need a certain period of time to learn and utilize it, online mapping sites are more accessible for researchers and easy to create a map, therefore, he showed some online GIS websites and gave a demonstration to make a mapping on Google map by BatchGeo.com.
Below lists are the programmes and the sites which he mentioned during his lecture.

Arc GIS, Quantum GIS, TileMill, Geodesix, Mango Map, Geo IQ, BatchGeo

If you would like to know more about GIS, CASA website and their blogs should be useful.
Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon provided a brief lecture about the structure of social networks. She drew simple but crucial questions like ‘What makes online networks different from offline networks?’ before starting a presentation, and she tried to resolve the questions. After introducing a historical timeline of network research, the importance of different social networks within one society and its meaning were suggested. During the lecture, she emphasized the implication what lies behind networks with multiple components and innumerable relationships of networks, and how characteristics of networks can be changed by these things. Like Dr Mark Graham, she showed some software to analyse online social networks and references which contain the contents of network theory.
The lists are below:

Social network analysis : methods and applications (1994)

Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World (2010)

Networks: An Introduction (2010)

Exploratory Social Network Analysis with Pajek (2005)

Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings (2012)

NodeXL, Pajek, igraph,





This workshop was a good opportunity to know different approaches toward a similar topic not only research methodology but also its theoretical backgrounds. The lectures were energetic and provided interactive presentations. Some participants might want to see practical research processes of OII and how these methodologies can apply to their researches such as visualizing a relationship between online social interactions and geographical location. But, the lecturers agreed visualizing the relationship, which is my best attractive point, is a perplexing process and it needs a further development.

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