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Science and Engineering at The University of Edinburgh

School of GeoSciences

The Edinburgh Earth Observatory

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Past Speakers


Links to previous years speakers



2012/13 Programme

Past and Future GIS: Underground, Overground, and Aboveground

This year saw the launch of a new MSc GIS & Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh therefore a number of seminars were designed to complement this new course as well as being of interest to our diverse audience from across academic and industry sectors. We also looked at Visualising Cities and their Transport Networks both past and future including London, this being the year of the 2012 London Olympics, and finally we included a number of 'local heroes' working with a range of Earth Observation data and GIS techniques here in Edinburgh.



Friday 24th May 2013


Bob Barr OBE
Manchester Geomatics and University of Liverpool

Title: Address War 3 - a view from the battlefield - reflections on government geo-data policy in an Open Data age
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Friday 26th April 2013


NB - Change of Talk Title

Will Cornforth
University of Edinburgh

Title: Remote sensing for practical forestry: Arboriculture to UAVs
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In remote sensing, forests are often put into context by reference to REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) and loose associations with 'ecosystem services'. However, more than just a tracking and monitoring tool for carbon-credit forests, remote sensing offers opportunities for practical forest management. Responsive forest management in the UK takes particular relevance at the present time due to recent arrivals of foreign pests and pathogens as well as rising incidence of climatic anomaly-related tree stress responses. I will discuss the use of and research into remote sensing tools to tackle issues unique to forests, from the platforms, to the instruments, to the analysis.



Friday 22nd March 2013


Dr. Karin Viergever
Head of Land Use and Spatial Analysis, Ecometrica, Edinburgh

Title: Our Ecosystem: the development of a web-platform that brings spatial data to non-GIS experts
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Ecometrica is an Edinburgh-based provider of consultancy and web-based services in greenhouse gas accounting, land use and ecosystem assessment. Our programming team and analysts have developed Our Ecosystem (OE), a web-based data viewing and sharing platform that is designed to make spatial data accessible to people that do not have GIS or remote sensing expertise. Our aim was to produce a platform that would make it easy for non-GIS specialists to access, organise, share, query and analyse spatial data on land cover and ecosystem services.

The presentation will discuss the reasons behind the development of the platform and the technical challenges faced in both the backend (e.g. the OE ‘machine’) and frontend (e.g. communicating complex data to non-expert users and getting the user interface right).

Current examples of OE applications include mapping and quantification of resources and impacts on resources; showing or checking compliance to environmental legislation; monitoring changes to vegetation and other resources; and publication of scientific research. Researchers and other organisations that have produced data layers that they would like to share with others are encouraged to use the Our Ecosystem platform as a means to publish their data. During the presentation several examples of OE applications in the application fields of forest and environmental management will be shown.



Friday 1st March 2013


Prof. Mike Batty
Founder, Chair, and Professor of Planning, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London

Title: Smart Cities: Big Data, Real Time Transport, Social Media and Urban Simulation
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I will explain how computers are being fast embedded into many different aspects of the built environment of cities and thus delivering many news kinds of data that pertain to change and movement, particularly in terms of transport flows and social networking. These data are large in the sense that every time an event occurs, the event is recorded and there may be as many as 10000 events per second, yielding data streams measured in millions of events. Making sense of all this is a major challenge and visualization as well as quite elaborate data mining is the key, but the smart city that is an obvious consequence of this digital revolution depends on how we use these new data streams, how we understand urban problems better and fashion more effective urban plans. We will illustrate these ideas from our work in London with the Oyster card system on London’s public transport, various social explorations into social media, digital participation and the development of longer term more traditional land use transport models that can be run now in almost real time. In short, the temporal events associated with spatial events in cities is changing the basis of how we think about their planning. The focus is shifting from long to short term planning as indeed is our own attention span in an era when life seems ever faster. We illustrate these ideas with notions about how we can account for disruptions in cities, unexpected events and how big data is providing us with possibilities for understanding and indeed control of cities that we have never been realized before.

References: Batty, M. (2012) Smart Cities, Big Data, Environment and Planning B, 39, 191 – 193; Batty, M., Axhausen, K., Fosca, G., Pozdnoukhov, A. Bazzani, A., Wachowicz, M., Ouzounis, O., and Portugali, Y.) Smart Cities of the Future, European Physical Journal Special Topics, 214, 481–518.



Friday 8th February 2013


Chris Fleet
Senior Map Curator, National Library of Scotland

Title: New GI Technologies for Historical Maps
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This talk will look at the range of new open-source technologies for interacting with online historical maps, using case studies from the National Library of Scotland. It will look at the NLS Historical Mapping API ( http://geo.nls.uk/maps/api ), the GeoReferencer crowdsourcing application ( http://geo.nls.uk/maps/georeferencer/ ), using OpenLayers for viewing georeferenced series maps ( http://geo.nls.uk/search/mosaic/ ), using GeoServer for searching for maps ( http://geo.nls.uk/search ), and various historical mapping smartphone apps that use dynamic WMS and WMTS. It will aim to highlight some of the new opportunities for collaborative work and new applications using historical maps.



Friday 18th January 2013, 4pm


NB - Change of Speaker

Neil Nutt
Halcrow CH2M Hill, Edinburgh

Title: Natural Flood Management within the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act
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The hydrological impact of diffuse land use changes often associated with NFM push the capabilities of even the most sophisticated hydrological techniques. With an inevitable high degree of uncertainty in mind, a series of GIS based screening tools will be presented that will assist the practitioner to screen for areas where NFM techniques may be effective, prior to more detailed and focused assessment. These screening methods have been designed to be rapid, informative and can be implemented with existing national datasets. An overview of a novel method to quantify the hydrological impacts of fluvial NFM measures using a GIS based spatially distributed, semi-physical hydrological model will also be presented. Although at present still largely speculative, this method may provide a means of testing NFM measures against more traditional flood risk management strategies by retaining a link to current UK hydrological practice. While this method will provide hard figures it will be important to remember the high degree of uncertainty necessarily associated with such quantitative approaches.



Friday 23rd November 2012, 4pm


Prof. Gary Lock
Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of Oxford

Title: Humanising Archaeological GIS
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GIS applications have become increasingly popular within archaeology although not without an element of controversy. This talk will outline the early applications and critiques and then focus on attempts to overcome the perceived positivist stance of GIS technology and its possible integration within post-modernist theoretical approaches to the past. The emphasis is on movement and visibility and how the two can be modelled and combined. A series of case-studies will be presented which attempt to model an embodied engagement with the material world.



Friday 2nd November 2012, 4pm


Gary Gale
Director, Web & Community, Nokia Location & Commerce

Title: Of Digital Stuff And Making Your Location History On The Interwebs
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Friday 12th October 2012, 4pm


Dr. Max Roberts
Essex University

Title: Transport schematics: usability, aesthetics, and evaluation
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As urban rail networks around the world grow and develop, so the challenge to create attractive usable maps increases. Generally, designers begin with rules first used for the Berlin S-Bahn in 1931, and by Henry Beck for the London Underground in 1933, also known as octolinearity (horizontal and vertical lines and 45 degree diagonals). From the perspective of cognitive psychology, what are the requirements for a well-designed map versus a poorly designed one? Why might octolinearity assist usability? Is this really the optimum means of achieving the best possible design? Can objectives be better achieved if this constraint is relaxed? It is concluded that different networks have different underlying properties, and that these suit different rules.

Also see:
London Transport Museum - Maps, Exhibitions, Talks, Walks



Friday 28th September 2012, 4pm - Opening Seminar


John McCarthy
Wessex Archaeology

Title: Applications of GIS in the Archaeological Profession
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John has worked on a variety of projects including Bronze Age, Iron Age and Medieval sites as well as work on heritage, development, and environmental impact analysis. John has also contributed to and led various projects in specialist marine and coastal work and his work regularly utilises technologies such as high-grade survey, Laser Scanning, GIS analysis and visualisation.



Friday 14th September 2012, 5.30pm


Special AGI Geo-Drinks
Teviot Library Bar, Bristo Sq, EH8 9AJ

This Friday 14th September we are also holding a special one-off Geo-Drinks at Teviot to coincide with the end of the EU CEN/TC 287 Edinburgh 31st plenary allowing socialising with attendees and speakers.
http://www.centc287.eu/




2011/12 Programme



Friday 11th May 2012


3pm, Room 2.13, Geography - *NB Change of Time and Room*

Prof. Martin Herold
Professor of Remote Sensing, Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing,
Wageningen University, The Netherlands


Title: Remote sensing capacities for REDD+: status and prospects
Download Slides   Audio available on demand for UoE staff/students at speaker's request



Friday 23rd March 2012, 4pm


Martin Charlton
National Centre for Geocomputation, NUI Maynooth, Ireland

Title: Geographically Weighted Regression: Modelling Spatial Heterogeneity
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Geographically Weighted Regression is a technique for exploratory spatial data analysis. In "normal" regression with data for spatial objects we assume that the relationship we are modelling is uniform across the study area - that is, the estimated regression parameters are "whole-map" statistics. In many situations this is not necessarily the case, as mapping the residuals (the differences between the observed and predicted data) may reveal. Many different solutions have been proposed for dealing with spatial variation in these relationships. GWR provides means of modelling such relationships.

This seminar outlines the characteristics of spatial data and the challenges its use poses for analysis, the ideas underpinning geographically weighted regression and details the process of estimating and interpreting the outputs from GWR models. We finish with a brief survey of current issues in GWR and potential future developments.



Friday 2nd March 2012, 4pm


Dr. Geoff Smith
Director, Specto Natura

Title: The Role of EO Consultants and SMEs within GMES
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Environmental information is of crucial importance to understand how our planet and its climate are changing, the role played by human activities in these changes and how these will influence our daily lives.

The European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program aims to provide, or support the provision of, this information through a range of operational Earth Observation-based products and services. The products and services will address a number of key themes; marine, land, atmosphere, emergency, security and climate change. GMES also covers the space component, with the provision of data from the soon to be launched Sentinel series of satellites, and the in-situ component, by the coordination of Member State activities. Policymakers and public authorities at the EU level, the major users of GMES core products and services, will use the information to prepare, implement and monitor environmental legislation and policies across Europe. However, the GMES core products will also be the foundations for downstream services which will operate at the sub-EU level addressing Member State, Regions and local authorities.

The core services offer sustainable pan European input data which will promote the development of downstream services which offer a major opportunity for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EO sector to expand their activities within a realistic local context. The current FP7 project GMES for Regions: Awareness and Access Link (GRAAL) will build a platform to help users better specify their demands for EO-based services and for SMEs to better market and promote the services they are offering. The next few years will therefore be a very important and exciting time in the European EO industry and this presentation will describe how the GMES Land theme has developed and some of the opportunities that lie ahead for SMEs.

See:

http://www.gmes.info

http://www.gmes-geoland.info/

http://www.land.eu/

http://www.gmes4regions.eu/

Dr. Geoff Smith, Specto Natura Ltd., is an Earth Observation(EO) consultant with over 20 years experience in academia, government and industry. He has a PhD in imaging spectroscopy of vegetation from the University of Wales, Swansea and postgraduate qualifications in geophysics and EO. He has worked extensively with UK government delivering products and advice as well as representing UK interests at the European Level. He worked within a UK government agency undertaking a range of activities from blue-skies research to operational applications and has been responsible for successful bids to the UK government, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. He has been involved in GMES from its early days working on the FP5 BIOPRESS, FP6 Geoland, FP6 BOSS4GMES projects and is now involved in other land related FP7 projects (Geoland 2, HELM, MS-MONINA & GRAAL). His focus is on land cover mapping activities with a user perspective and has provided technical input and management to UK national land cover map and CLC production projects. Previously, he was the head of the Section for EO at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK.



Friday 17th February 2012, 4pm


Dr. Iain Cameron
Remote Sensing and GIS Consultant, Environment Systems

Title: UAV's and You: How Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can change how we capture geospatial information
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In the last few years civilian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) have become increasingly affordable and accessible, providing the capability to capture aerial imagery in a timely, accurate and cost effective manner. In this talk I will introduce the opportunities arising from UAV remote sensing and discuss how UAV's can support established survey techniques, particularly in the field of environmental monitoring.



Friday 3rd February 2012, 4pm


Andy Wightman
Independent Writer and Researcher

Title: The Poor Had No Lawyers - who owns Scotland (and how they got it)
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The talk will cover:

  • The broad theme of the book
  • The historic quest for information (incl. The Inland Revenue Survey)
  • The author's experiences with Ordnance Survey
  • The Crown Estate Commission
  • Future challenges for land information and land reform



Friday 20th January 2012, 4pm


Dr. David Fairbairn
Newcastle University

Title: Assessing the Accuracy of Crowdsourced Data
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The use of informal, crowd-sourced geospatial data collected by non-professional volunteers (volunteered geographic information, VGI), is often regarded as a panacea for projects which are confronted by inadequate or unattainable official information. This seminar will examine how 'good' such informal data is, by assessing its quality using a number of different measures. Any integration of VGI and formal datasets, which is already happening in several applications, must take account of relative accuracies, completeness, currency and meaning. The results of tests on some of these metrics will be described.



Friday 2nd December 2011, 4pm


Dr. Helene Burningham
UCL

Title: GIS Explorations in the Coastal Zone
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Spatial data covering the coastal environment is increasingly available at a range of scales and resolutions. Whilst there is great potential for these spatial data to explore characteristics of the coastal zone, particularly in terms of contemporary features, there are also a number of limitations that can frequently constrain our research process. This is particularly true when reconstructing past environments and histories. Drawing on a range of projects investigating coastal behaviour and environmental histories, this talk will review coastal spatial data and reflect on the opportunities for GIS and remote sensing in coastal studies.



Friday 18th November 2011, 4pm


Dr. Phil Bartie
University of Edinburgh

Title: The 2010/11 Christchurch (NZ) Earthquakes: How GIS is being used
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As some may remember just over 1 year ago a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck in Christchurch, New Zealand.This talk is a personal account of that event and the on going aftershocks, with plenty of photos, video clips, and a look at how GIS/Maps/Mashups/technology have been used to help keep locals informed and to assist in the rebuild.



Friday 4th November 2011, 4pm


Joint Hutton Club / EEO-AGI(S) Seminar


Dr. Fausto Ferraccioli
Head of Aerogeophysical Survey, British Antarctic Survey

Title: The Antarctic Continent as revealed from Aerogeophysical Exploration
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Friday 21st October 2011, 4pm


Room 2.13, Geography

Prof. Michael Worboys
Director, School of Computing and Information Science, University of Maine, USA

Title: Modelling Indoor Space
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This talk will begin by reviewing the motivation for an informatics of indoor space. It will then discuss application domains and consider why current geospatial technology, with its focus on outdoor spaces, needs to be extended. We will review existing formal models of indoor spaces, along with their applications, and introduce a new model that is the subject of the author's current research. The talk will conclude with some observations about the development of a unified model of both indoor and outdoor spaces.



Friday 14th October 2011, 4pm


Bob Kerr
OpenStreetMap Edinburgh

Title: Introduction to OpenStreetMap and Humanitarian Mapping
List of Resources Discussed

This talk will include a quick overview of Openstreetmap.org and some of the derived maps ranging from cycling to food foraging maps. It will include examples and statistics on the quality of the mapping and working with Ordnance Survey, Microsoft Bing and other companies in the UK. Finally it will look at how Open map data is starting to be used in developing countries. This will include mapping slums in Kenya and Tanzania and the information available to us in Somalia and the Daadab Refuge camp.



Friday 30th September 2011, 4pm


Prof. Bob Barr OBE
Manchester Geomatics and University of Liverpool

Title: Ask not what the PDC can do for GI – ask what GI can do for the PDC
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The UK Government has announced plans for a new Public Data Corporation. This is intended to bring government bodies and data together in one organisation in order to provide much greater levels of publicly accessible information and improved efficiency in public service delivery.

Prof. Barr's interests include Social Information Systems, analysis and visualisation of social and spatial information, policy, and strategic re-use of service information. He was awarded an OBE for services to geography in 2008 and is also actively involved in urban regeneration and provision of affordable housing in Cheshire.




2010/11 Programme



Friday 1st April 2011, 4pm


Glen Hart
Principal Research Scientist and Research Manager, Ordnance Survey

Title: Geographic Information and the Linked Data Web
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Linked Data, a part of the Semantic Web, has begun to take off over the last year; the broader Semantic Web has still to be realised, and it's development has been slower, but progress is being made none the less. This talk will provide an overview of Linked Data and the Semantic Web and discuss how these technologies are affecting Geographic Information, helping it's development, and challenging the way we think about it.



Friday 11th March 2011, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Human Geography Seminar


Professor Graham Clarke
School of Geography, University of Leeds

Title: Applications of Microsimulation in Human Geography
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Microsimulation is a methodology for estimating household or individual data sets not normally available to academic researchers. The most popular approach is to re-weight survey data to match the characteristics of small-area census tracts. This produces rich new data sets which can then be used for policy 'what-if?' type scenarios. Having briefly discussed methodological issues in the estimation procedures the talk will provide examples of research in socio-economic impact assessment, retail geography, health geography and rural geography, discussing the data created and the future policy scenarios examined.



Friday 25th February 2011, 4pm


Iain McKay
OneScotland Gazetteer Business Manager
Improvement Service

Title: One Scotland Gazetteer: Where are we now?
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This presentation will look at the history of the One Scotland Gazetteer and explain how the One Scotland Mapping Agreement provided a solution to licensing access to the gazetteer for the Scottish public sector. It will discuss how the gazetteer fits into the overall INSPIRE / Scottish SDI framework and provide some thoughts for where addressing is likely to go in the future.



Friday 11th February 2011, 4pm


Professor Chris Brunsdon
Professor of Geographic Information, Department of Geography, University of Leicester

Title: Geographically Weighted Regression: Ideas, Applications and Extensions
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Prof. Brunsdon's interests include analysis of patterns of crime, house prices, and health-data. He is also one of the originators of the technique of Geographically Weighted Regression, which models geographic variations in modelled variables as opposed to traditional, simpler, regression modelling which assumes these to remain the same everywhere.



Friday 21st January 2011, 4pm


Professor Richard Healey
School of Geography, University of Portsmouth

Title: New Developments in Historical GIS

The formative period of work in historical GIS from the late 1990's onwards was characterised by the digitisation of published historical census datasets and attention to the problems of administrative boundary changes, using a variety of standard GIS and database tools. More recently, the growing availability of very large individual level files for 19th century censuses in the USA, the UK and parts of Northern Europe, has created both major data processing challenges and immense opportunities to broaden and deepen the scope of research in demographically-related historical GIS. However, such fine-grained datasets still have a very coarse temporal resolution by decade, and are therefore limited for the analysis of shorter duration socio-economic processes. Taking as a theme the mobility of 19th US industrial workers, this presentation will examine new technical developments and substantive issues that affect the deployment of historical GIS in these data-rich environments, including the use of business intelligence methodologies (data warehousing and OLAP), web-based visualisation techniques and the perennial problems of data quality.



Friday 26th November 2010, 4pm


Dr. Hugh Buchanan, MRICS
Secretary, Scottish Boundary Commissions' Secretariat

Title: English irregular verbs: I modernise parliament, YOU gerrymander, HE reviews constituency boundaries
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The UK government has introduced legislation to reduce the size of the House of Commons and make the number of electors more consistent across the country, with the legislation being greeted by accusations of gerrymandering. The resulting task in Scotland will fall to the Boundary Commission for Scotland, which will draw on its recent experience of reviewing Scottish Parliament constituencies, in time for the May 2011 elections. The talk will look at some of the issues that arise in boundary reviews, and contrast the Scottish Parliament and Westminster processes.



Friday 12th November 2010, 4pm


David S Mitchell
Director, Historic Scotland Conservation Group

Title: Digital documentation of the historic environment and the Scottish Ten Project
Visit Official Website (Includes Talk Visual Content)   Download Audio

Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art have been collaboratively working for the past four years on developing laser scanning and visualisation techniques for the historic environment, with development projects at Rosslyn Chapel, Stirling Castle and documenting objects like the Stirling Heads and the Orkney Venus. The Scottish Ten is an exciting project instigated by the Scottish Government to digitally document the five Scottish World Heritage Sites and five overseas heritage sites, to showcase Scotland on an international stage. The first international project at Mount Rushmore has just been completed.



Friday 5th November 2010, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S) / Hutton Club Seminar


Dr. Tim J Malthus
Research Group Leader, Environmental EO Group, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Title: Earth Observation perspectives over a large, dry, flat continent.
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Dr Malthus heads the Environmental Earth Observation group in Australia's Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO). Prior to joining CSIRO, Dr Malthus was Director of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Field Spectroscopy Facility, based at the University of Edinburgh and in 2009 was head of the Edinburgh Earth Observatory.



Friday 22 October 2010, 4pm


Special Joint EEO-AGI(S) / Hutton Club Seminar


Dr. Steven Palmer
University of Leeds

Title: Form and flow of some Arctic glaciers from satellite observations
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Steve studied for a BSc in Earth & Space Science at University College London before going on to attain a MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering from Cranfield University. After working as a Mission Systems Engineer in the Earth Observation group at EADS Astrium UK, he started a PhD at Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, on "Temporal fluctuations in the motion of Arctic ice masses from satellite radar interferometry", during which he transferred to The University if Edinburgh, where he successfully defended his thesis. Steve's research continues to focus on the use of satellite remote sensing for quantifying changes in the flow of ice in high latitude regions.



Friday 8th October 2010, 4pm - ** Opening Seminar **


Joint EEO-AGI(S) / Human Geography Seminar


Professor Sir Alan Wilson, FBA, FRS
Professor of Urban and Regional Systems, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London
Chair, Arts and Humanities Research Council

Title: Urban and Regional Models: Achievements and Challenges
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Modelling the functioning and evolution of urban and regional systems has been, and is, one of the grand challenges of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century science. There is half a century or more of achievement which is reviewed briefly. The challenges for the future range from taking advantage of the wealth of new data and the demands this makes for effective warehousing through the optimum deployment of the models that work well – such as interaction models – to the challenge of modelling system dynamics and evolution. The concepts of abrupt change and of path dependence are developed and the idea of ‘urban DNA’ introduced. These models are illustrated with a range of applications from retail structures (and agent-based variants of conventional models) to some historical examples, including the evolution of the USA urban system in the Nineteenth Century.

Sir Alan was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1991 to 2004, and Director-General for Higher Education in DfES from 2004-2006. He was elected as a Member of Academia Europaea in 1991, a Fellow of the British Academy in 1994, an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2000, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006. He was knighted for services to higher education in 2001.




Friday 24th September 2010, 4pm - ** Special Pre-Series Seminar **


Dr. Juan M Lopez-Sanchez
University of Alicante

Title: Agriculture monitoring using time series of satellite radar polarimetric images
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Since 2007 several Earth Observation satellites have operated polarimetric radars in a continuous mode. The availability of archives of images acquired with short revisit times, different polarisation combinations and high spatial resolution enables the development of new techniques for agricultural crop monitoring and precision farming. A recent study over rice fields in Spain by using TerraSAR-X and Radarsat-2 data for tracking rice phenology and detecting cultivation problems is used for illustrating this application.

Dr. Juan M Lopez-Sanchez is a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics, System Engineering and Signal Theory at the University of Alicante, Spain. His research is focused on radar remote sensing techniques, including polarimetry and interferometry, for retrieval of biophysical parameters and monitoring of geological processes.




2009/10 Programme



Thursday 17th June 2010, 4pm


Dr Simon Kingham
University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Title: Commuter pollution exposure: can modal choice affect your health?

Most research suggests, that contrary to lay expectations, pollution exposure is higher among car occupants than and other road users. However recently a couple of studies has suggested otherwise. Most of these types of studies have occurred in areas of high traffic density. This presentation will give the results of a recently conducted study in Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand, that assessed the relative exposure people travelling by car, bike, bus and train. It simultaneously monitored for particles of varying size fraction and carbon monoxide. It also used GPS and GIS technologies to track individuals to relate mobility to exposure. Simon Kingham is an Associate Professor of geography and co-Director of the GeoHealth laboratory at the Dept of Geography, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Friday 19th March 2010, 4pm


Prof. David Martin
University of Southampton

Title: Modelling Populations in GIS: Rethinking Representation and Analysis

This seminar will review the enduring challenges of representing human population data in GIS. With particular regard to contemporary and future census datasets, it will explore issues of spatial referencing, population dynamics and analysis methods.

David Martin is Professor of Geography at the University of Southampton and Director of the ESRC Census Programme. He has 20 years' experience of developing GIS applications involving population, housing and health.


19th February 2010, 4pm


Prof. Richard Lucas
Aberystwyth University

Title: Advances in active remote sensing of regional ecosystems in Queensland, Australia

Richard Lucas is professor in the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University. His current research focuses on the use of remote sensing data (e.g., SAR, hyperspectral and lidar) for mapping and quantifying changes in the species/community composition, biomass and structure of tropical and subtropical forests and woodlands (including mangroves) in relation to anthropogenic land use and climate change.


Friday 22nd January 2009, 4pm


Prof. Peter Atkinson
School of Geography, University of Southampton

Title: Look-up Based Approaches to Downscaling Remotely Sensed Imagery

Downscaling means predicting at a finer spatial resolution than the input imagery. This may be to classify at a finer spatial resolution than the input imagery or to predict reflectance at a finer spatial resolution. Researchers have attempted downscaling remotely sensed imagery using a variety of different methods including spatial simulated annealing, neural networks and genetic algorithms. Prof. Atkinson will review previous approaches and discuss a new method for downscaling imagery and spatial statistical functions derived from the imagery based on training imagery and a look-up based approach. Professor Atkinson has over 20 years experience as a researcher. He has current interests in remote sensing and spatial modelling approaches applied to a range of application areas including spatial epidemiology.



Special Seminar Wednesday 13th January 2010, 12 pm


Professor Michael Schaepman
University of Zurich

Room 302, Crew Building, Kings Buildings

Title: Spatial, temporal and spectral scales in photon-vegetation interactions

Professor Schaepman is a well known scientist heading the Remote Sensing Laboratories at Zurich. The two labs he runs include a RADAR remote sensing lab (SAR Lab) and a spectroscopy lab (SPECTRO Lab) with interests in a number of fields including data processing, vegetation parameter extractions, water quality assessment and atmospheric parameter retrieval.



Friday 27th November 2009, 4pm


Robin McLaren
Know Edge

CHANGE OF VENUE Room 2.13, Institute of Geography, Drummond Street

Title: The Role of Urban Sensing in Managing Megacities

Many megacities are growing at an annual rate of over 6% and some will double their populations in the next decade. This incredibly rapid growth of megacities causes severe social, economical and ecological problems. New tools, techniques and policies are required to baseline and integrate the social, economic and environmental factors associated with megacities, to monitor growth and change across the megacity and to forecast areas of risk – all within shorter timeframes than previously accepted.

This presentation explores the role of ‘urban sensing’ that uses cellular phones, sensor technologies, GIS related technologies, Web 2.0 and crowdsourcing (mass collaboration using Web 2.0) to support the creation of a public infrastructure, a ‘data commons,’ that will allow the citizen to increasingly participate in politics, civics (including land administration and management), aesthetics and science. These emerging techniques have the potential to strengthen the Spatial Data Infrastructures and urban change information available to megacities.



Friday 6th November 2009, 4pm


Ken Adam
Akadamia Ltd

Title: Mapping in the air

The use of mapping and terrain data in military cockpit for Navigation and Situation Awareness. Traditionally used for “Where am I?” these displays are now for “Where is everything else?”. This seminar will consider how we make optimum use of map data in the cockpit environment, the type and sources of data used and how the use of these displays is changing with the improvements in navigation data sources. Includes demonstrations of typical military mapping display formats. Ken Adam was previously Chief Architect for Airborne Digital Maps with BAE Systems and now runs a small consultancy specialising in Mapping Systems for the Defence industry.



Friday 16th October 2009, 4pm


Jo Walsh
Edina

Title: The Long Road to Open Geodata

Both the state of Open Geodata projects, and the debate around public access to geographic information, are maturing. This talk presents an overview of the rapid pace of development and innovation in open data projects over the last few years. It will be part "how did we get here?" and part "how do we get there?" as we look to the future and consider options for open licensing of geographic information that help support the maintenance of high-quality data in a sustainable way.



Friday 9th October 2009, 4pm


Iain Woodhouse
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Time to get REDDy : the experiences of the REDD Horizon Project

Dr Woodhouse is a senior lecturer in the School of Geosciences, specialising in radar remote sensing, particularly in heterogenous woodland environments. This talk will detail experiences of REDD Horizon, a group of academics, service companies and government agencies that have come together in Malawi to demonstrate how the combination of new technologies and community-level involvement can support national sustainable forest use.




2008/09 Programme



Friday 8 May 2009, 4pm


James Reid
Edina

Title: Using Open Standards for Delivery of Geo Related Data - Lessons and Thoughts

James Reid is one of the leading exponents of the use OpenGIS standards for the delivery of large-scale GI services in the UK. He leads a team which has built a spatial data infrastructure for the UK academic community. This presentation will report the findings from the Data Integration and Dissemination (DIaD) project, which is investigating the potential of using international open standards based techniques (Open Geospatial Consortia) to perform data linkage between two of the most heavily used UK academic census programme outputs - the aggregate statistical data and the output geographies. The primary objective of this work is to develop a data dissemination model which demonstrates a more generic capability - that of 'geo-linking'. Additionally, using the same standards based approach, the project will aim to demonstrate how further value added processing can be invoked by transforming the geo-linked outputs through a series of ancillary web processing services.

The presentation will review project progress, discuss issues arising from the work to date and suggest how open standards and open source software approaches to building spatial data infrastructure may (or may not) be prudent.


Friday 27 March 2009, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Hutton Club Seminar


Dr. Tom Bradwell
British Geological Survey

Title: Dynamic oscillations of the Last British Ice Sheet: new evidence from onshore and offshore

Recent work has presented an overview of the glacial landscape preserved on the northern UK continental shelf based on an extensive echosounder dataset [Bradwell et al., 2008a]. In this talk I will describe how this data was collected and how it has led to several new discoveries relating to the glaciation of the British Isles. The talk will highlight key lines of evidence within the offshore geomorphic record, augmented by new multibeam data, alongside cosmogenic nuclide analyses which spatially and temporally constrain the decay of the northern sector of the last British Ice Sheet. By focusing on the NW sector, I will highlight the detailed pattern of moraines preserved on the seabed and onshore - the morphology and distribution of which testify to the highly dynamic behaviour of a grounded palaeo-ice-sheet margin. Finally, I will consider several of these ice sheet oscillations, including the Wester Ross Readvance, within a wider context; and aim to convince you that ice caps in Scotland probably existed throughout the Lateglacial Interstadial.

Reference:
Bradwell T, Stoker MS, Golledge NR, Wilson C, Merritt JW, Long D, Everest JD, Hestvik OB, Stevenson AG, Hubbard AL, Finlayson AG, Mathers HE. 2008. The northern sector of the last British Ice Sheet: maximum extent and demise. Earth-Science Reviews 88: 207-226.

Friday 20 March 2009, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Hutton Club Seminar


Finnur Pálsson
Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland

Title: Glaciers in Iceland: topography, mass balance and more


Friday 6 March 2009, 4pm


Prof. Robin Flowerdew
School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews

Title: Understanding the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem

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Most social science and some environmental data are available for areal units such as counties, districts, wards, postcode sectors, grid squares or pixels. A country or a study area can be divided up in many different ways and often the system of zones used for collection, modelling and display of data may be arbitrary or ‘modifiable’. However if the data are analysed, the results of the analysis may vary, sometimes very dramatically. This is the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP). It was first discovered in the 1930s, and studied in detail by Openshaw (1984). It has two aspects: the scale problem, which concerns differences in statistical results for zonal systems at different scales (generally – but not always - larger units are linked to stronger correlations); and the zonation (or aggregation) problem, which concerns differences in results between zonal systems at the same scale but with different configurations of zones.

This paper is concerned with investigating how often and in what circumstances the MAUP is a problem, using zone design software to aggregate the smallest areal units in different ways, paying attention to consideration of equality in size, compactness of shape and social homogeneity. Results from the real zoning system can be compared with results from simulated systems, and the relationship of the MAUP to spatial autocorrelation and the impact of geographical processes.

Friday 20 February 2009, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Hutton Club Seminar


Noel Gourmelen
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Measuring Low Strain Rate with Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry: Application to the Pacific - North America Plate Boundary


Friday 6 February 2009, 4pm


Victoria Shelley
ESRI UK

Title: MapAction in Action

Ever wondered how geographical information systems (GIS) are being harnessed for humanitarian purposes?

MapAction is an established UK-registered charity, largely manned by unpaid volunteers, whose purpose is to deploy a trained team of specialist personnel to apply the power of GIS to map humanitarian relief operations. MapAction has experts in remote sensing imagery, communications, logistics, security, computing and medical skills in addition, of course, to GIS and GPS navigation skills. We're a team that works efficiently and effectively under field conditions in fraught situations.

In such crisis', relief agencies need rapid answers to questions about 'where'. Where are the greatest needs? Where are the gaps that need to be filled? Aid that ends up in the wrong place is of no use in relieving human suffering. MapAction's work in disaster zones multiplies the efficiency of emergency response. We do this by setting up a field-mapping centre at the site of a disaster highlighting the places where relief help is most urgently needed as the crisis unfolds.

We don't create maps per se, what we do is to depict the situation on a map as a crisis unfolds. An important part of our service is that we update our maps at regular intervals, daily or more frequently, in accordance with changes in the dynamic situation pertaining at the time. Our baptism of fire came in response to the Asian Tsunami Disaster when a team was scrambled at short notice to help map disaster relief efforts in Sri Lanka. Since then (December 2004) MapAction have completed over 60 missions in both disaster relief and capacity building.

Our capability is predicated on responding to a sudden onset disaster, though MapAction can and do get involved with other types of humanitarian relief activities. We have operated during famine in Lesotho, conducted development work in Tajikistan and we are currently working in Malawi.

This seminar will introduce MapAction and talk through sudden onset and capacity building projects undertaken by Vickie Shelley in Lesotho, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Mozambique and Iraq.

Friday 16 January 2009, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Hutton Club Seminar


Dr. Richard Essery
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: A Ground, Airborne and Satellite Study of Snow on the North Slope of Alaska

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Ground-based meteorological observations are sparse at high latitudes and so only provide limited data for constraining numerical weather forecasts, evaluating climate models and monitoring climate change. Assimilation of data from microwave sounders on polar orbiting satellites has been found to greatly improve forecast skill in polar regions. Because microwave scattering by snow on the ground is not yet well-understood, however, measured radiances in channels that are sensitive to both atmospheric and ground conditions are not currently used over land.

In February 2008, the NERC atmospheric research aircraft flew out to Fairbanks, Alaska, to join a NASA project combining airborne and satellite observations with ground measurements of snow properties on the North Slope. The ground survey crew, based at the Toolik field station, included one rather cold and food-poisoned researcher from Edinburgh. This seminar will present results from the experiment and discuss plans for using the data in improving snow microwave emission models for use in retrievals of both ground and atmospheric properties from remote sensing. Some cool pictures of snowy landscapes will also be shown.

Friday 5 December 2008, 4pm


Dr. Sassan Saatchi
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (CALTECH)

Title: Tropical Forests and Global Carbon Cycle: Watching Human Impacts and Climate Perturbations from Space

Tropical forests play a key role in the global carbon cycle by contributing to atmospheric carbon concentration through deforestation and land use change and by sequestering carbon at a higher rate than previously expected. The remaining forests in tropics are currently at risk because of increased anthropogenic activities and impacts of climate change to a potential near-term tipping point. Regional analyses from satellite observations are providing us with new insights in patterns and processes of human impacts, forest ecology, and interactions with climate perturbations. These observations include measurements of forest cover, structure, moisture, phenology, and regional climate variables. Recent results from these measurements over the Amazon and Congo Basins draw a new picture of the role of tropical forests in global carbon cycle and pose interesting questions for future research.

Friday 14 November 2008, 4pm


Iain Cameron
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Where's the Wind: Offshore Wind Power Planning and Remote Sensing

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Download Recorded Talk (WMA File - Right Click, Save Target As)

The UK has an abundant offshore wind resource with offshore wind farming set to grow rapidly over the coming years. Optimisation of energy production is of the utmost importance and accurate estimates of wind speed distributions are critical for the planning process. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data can provide synoptic, wide area wind field estimates at resolutions of a few kilometres and has great potential for wind resource assessment. The key challenges for the operational implementation of SAR in this context will be considered; namely the accuracy of SAR wind retrievals and the ability of SAR to characterise the mean wind speed and wind power density. We consider the main stages of SAR wind retrieval; the retrieval algorithm; sources of a priori information; the optimal configuration of the retrieval system; and the challenges for and accuracy wind resource estimation from SAR.

Thursday 13 November 2008, 4.15pm


Iain Evans
University of Cambridge
President, TerraNova

Title: Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine Soaked Journey from the GIS Lab

In the real-world of wine making, GIS has a reputation for complex and expensive technology run by computer nerds walking around vineyards with what resembles E.T. strapped to their back. Unsurprisingly, vineyards have been slow to adopt this technology even though it has been proven to save thousands of pounds. Interestingly the slow rate of adoption of new technology in the vineyard contrasts with the high rate of adoption in the cellar, but it doesn't have to be this way.

One of the hottest areas of GIS application is precision viticulture (PV) which can be thought of as a viticultural version of the Motorola’s Six Sigma approach, which attempts to measure, understand and eliminate process variation and hence reduce costs and raise quality. PV has been shown to deliver real commercial benefits when focused towards modifying cultural practices, particularly in reasonably homogeneous viticultural environments, such as are often encountered in Australia or parts of the US, where the aim is to optimise yield and to surpass a quality threshold rather than to maximise quality per se.


Thursday 30 October 2008, 3.30pm


Joint Human Geography/EEO-AGI(S) Seminar


Carlos de la Espriella
Lund University

Title: The Application of Poverty Maps on Urban Planning: The Use of Census Microdata in Liberia, Costa Rica

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Poverty analyses should be instrumental for a pro-poor urban planning practice, yet they are weak in addressing the causes of poverty at city level in developing countries, because they are seldom articulated in a strategic set of pro-poor local actions, and they do not reach small geographical scales at city level where actions should be implemented.

In an attempt to bridge this methodological gap, a technique for undertaking poverty analyses at city level was tested in the analysis of the implementation of Costa Rica’s social housing policy in the medium-sized city of Liberia. It was found that the use of an urban residential segregation approach in small geographical scale poverty analyses allows defining concrete deprived urban areas and foreseeing scenarios to propose feasible pro-poor land-based actions; therefore, proving helpful on promoting a pro-poor urban planning practice.

Friday 24 October 2008, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Human Geography Seminar


Duncan Macniven
Registrar General for Scotland, General Register Office for Scotland

Title: Scotland's People in Time and Space: Geography and the Work of the General Register Office for Scotland

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The General Register Office for Scotland produces and publishes information about Scotland's people. Since it was set up in 1855, geography has been vital to its work. Today, geographic information is important both for its demographic statistics (especially the census) and it family history records. And the Registrar General chairs Scotland's Geography Steering Group, which prepared, and is now overseeing the implementation of, Scotland's first geographic information strategy


Friday 3 October 2008, 4pm


Dr Robert Barr OBE
Manchester Geomatics
Geography, School of Environment and Development, The University of Manchester


Title: War and Peace? The Troubled History of the Geo-Data Wars

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Once geographic information was considered either a public good, placed in the public domain as most other scientific information, or as a state secret hidden from view to gain military or state advantage. However in the digital age, which effectively started for geographic information in the late 70s and early 80s, geo-data has increasingly begun to be seen as a private commercial resource, even by government agencies which, while publicly owned, still need to recover some or all their costs through trading in such information.

More recently the reduction in the cost of mass data capture, the arrival of commercial global players such Navteq, Tele-Atlas and Google as well as a growing open-source geo-data movement, suggest that the balance of power in geo-data may shift. In this talk Bob Barr will assess how we got to the present unfortunate state of affairs regarding geo-data in the UK, will suggest ways forward drawing on examples from overseas, and will question the possible impact of the European Inspire initiative on the situation.


Friday 26 September 2008, 4pm


Joint EEO-AGI(S)/Hutton Club Seminar


Dr. Richard Walker
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

Title: Active Tectonic Studies in Western and Central Mongolia

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Western Mongolia - and adjacent parts of China, Kazakhstan and Siberia - accommodate ~10 mm/yr of the shortening between India and Eurasia and are an important component in this evolving continental collision. I describe recent (and on-going) studies of the late Cenozoic tectonics of Mongolia that aim to understand both the present-day distribution of mountain-building in Mongolia, and the evolution of faulting that has led to that present-day distribution, with application in many deforming parts of the world. The studies range from investigations of the the total deformation recorded in the geology, through the slip-rates on active faults averaged over timescales of 10-100 ka, to the distribution of strain recorded by earthquakes. Although Mongolia has produced several large magnitudes events over the last 100 years (including the Bulnay earthquake of 1905: the largest known earthquake from the continents), these are not widespread over the country, and we have few constraints from seismicity on the deformation in large parts of the country. We are, however, fortunate that the extremely low rates of erosion in Mongolia allow the preservation of surface ruptures from palaeo-earthquakes occurring over at least the last 1000 years: providing a much longer record of earthquakes than available in most deforming parts of the world, and providing information on the sense of motion and slip-direction on the faults.


Wednesday 20 August 2008, 2pm


Prof. John Richards
The Australian National University

Title: Thematic Mapping with Remote Sensing Satellite Networks

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Currently most remote sensing data gathering is carried out using a small number of sensors of a small number (perhaps tens) of satellite platforms. With falling hardware and imaging costs it is likely that much remote sensing in the future will be undertaken by large swarms of very small satellites, each with limited imaging capacity but capable of operating cooperatively to provide a high level of intelligence in data acquisition. Such networks of satellite sensors present particular analytical challenges when seeking to map the landscape. In particular, we still need to understand how to do thematic mapping in such a context. After reviewing candidate multi-sensor and multi-source classification processes, methods that show promise for operating in the dynamic satellite sensor network environment will be identified. It is concluded that fusion procedures operating at the level of labelled pixels, rather than those that seek to fuse data, offer most promise.

John Richards is from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science where he was Dean from 2004 to 2007. He is also Master of University House, and Graduate House at ANU. He was formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President of the Australian National University from 1998 to 2003. John graduated from the University of New South Wales, Australia with the degrees of Bachelor of Engineering (Hons 1) and Doctor of Philosophy, both in Electrical Engineering, in 1968 and 1972 respectively. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, N.Y. and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia. His research interests are in remote sensing image analysis and imaging radar backscatter modelling. His publications include the book Remote Sensing Digital Image Analysis, the fourth edition of which has just been released with X. Jia as co-author.



2007/08 Programme



Friday 23rd May 2008


Prof. Danny Dorling
Department of Geography, University of Sheffield

Title: Human Cartography: Local and Global Mapping of Life and Death

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Danny's current research interests include the visualization of spatial social structure through drawing atlases; the changing social, medical and political geographies of Britain as revealed by the 2001 Census; and from using a wide range of resources, trying to fathom the implications of rising housing market and wealth inequalities, the polarization of health and life chances and the prospects for new social policies based on evidence and advocacy from research.

His research tries to show how far understanding the patterns to people's lives can be enhanced using statistics about the population. Part of this research involves developing new techniques to analyse and popularise quantitative information about Human Geography. In particular, introducing the use of novel cartographic techniques into geographical research. The substantive side of this concern is with how the fortunes of people living in Britain are distributed and are changing. This work has been supported through a number of sponsored projects.



Friday 6th May 2008


Tyler Mitchell
Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo)

Title: Introducing Open Source Tools for Geospatial Data Management


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This seminar will be a general technical overview of the kinds of tools and capabilities that open source geospatial applications provide. This talk presents some of the options that are available for completing certain types of mapping, web development and analysis projects. The focus will be on projects that have joined the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo).


Friday 18th April 2008


Dr. Max Craglia
European Commission

Title: INSPIRE: The Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe - Research needs and challenges


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Friday 4th April 2008


Prof. Tony Payne
School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

Title: Understanding Contemporary Change in West Antarctica


Tony did his PhD at Edinburgh under the supervision of Prof David Sugden on 'Modelling former ice sheets'. Later, he was a research fellow in the Grant Institute of Geology and went on to hold academic positions in Bremen, British Columbia and Southampton. He joined Bristol university in 2001 where he is currently Professor of Glaciology in the School of Geographical Sciences.

Tony is also co-director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM), which is a NERC-funded Earth Observation Centre of Excellence. CPOM research aims to understand processes in the Earth's polar latitudes that may affect the Earth's albedo, polar atmosphere and ocean circulation, and global sea level.


Friday 29th February 2008


Prof. Duncan Wingham
Head of the Department of Earth Sciences, University College London
Head of the Centre for Polar Observational Modelling

Title: The Instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet - A hypothesis for too long?


Duncan Wingham is Professor of Climate Physics at University College London, and was the first Director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling. Prof. Wingham is a member of the NERC Science and Technology Board and Earth Observation Experts Group. He is also Principal Scientist of the European Space Agency (ESA) CryoSat Satellite Mission, the first ESA Earth Sciences satellite selected through open, scientific competition.

Prof. Wingham's particular expertise is in studying the flow and mass exchange of the Earth's ice sheets through the use of ultra-precise measurements from Earth orbiting satellites.


Friday 22nd February 2008


Ed Parsons
Google

Title: Earth Observation and the Man on the Clapham Omnibus : The Impact of Google Earth on the Mass-Market



Friday 15th February 2008


Dr. Chris Browitt
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Mapping and Monitoring Millimetric Ground Movements from Space-PSinSAR


In the early 2000s, following almost a decade of using differential interferograms to observe centimetric ground movements, particularly for earthquakes, the Polytecnico Milano, and its spin-out company TRE, pioneered a new processing approach which has yielded results at a millimetric scale (PSINSAR). With around 30 radar scenes utilized, rather than two, a longer term, high precision view is obtainable, with widespread applications. These range from monitoring deformation in earthquake and volcanic zones, ground vulnerability mapping and landslide risk assessment, to geotechnical issues in relation to groundwater abstraction and recharge, compressible soils, mines and engineered excavations. Differential subsidence observed in alluvial flood plains can lead to improved flood risk assessments as is evident from the application of this Persistent Scatterer INSAR technique in New Orleans.

In order to build more awareness of this potential, the European Space Agency has sponsored a project, entitled GMES Terrafirma, to capitalize on its ERS1, ERS2 and ENVISAT data archives. Many city and landslide sites in Europe have already been processed to reveal their ground movement histories for up to 14 years, and by the end of 2008 it is intended that every European Union country will have at least one city, with satellite radar coverage processed to reveal small ground movements of around 1 millimetre per year. That information will be in the hands of national geoscience centres and engineers for expert interpretation utlilising their own data and expertise. They, in turn, will engage with the relevant authorities in their countries to ensure take up, and action on the hazards revealed which will be seen in great detail; in many cases, for the first time. It is intended that these national cities will lead to national initiatives for further studies across each country, and that the examples will be shared across borders to ensure that the community of Europe benefits from the experience of its collective experts and from our European Space Agency’s investments in leading edge technology for practical purposes.


Friday 1st February 2008


Prof. Richard Aspinall
Chief Executive, The Macaulay Institute

Title: Modelling Land Use and Land Cover Change with GIS and Remote Sensing - What do we miss?


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This talk uses examples to consider land use and land cover change modelling with GIS and remote sensing, reviewing the types of changes that can be adequately investigated using the two technologies. The talk also considers what GIS and remote sensing based approaches currently miss in the way of land use and land cover changes, including animal systems, land management effects, rotations, and a variety of ecosystem service functions of landscapes. The talk points to some challenges for development of GIS and remote sensing to support process-based models of land use and land cover change.



Friday 23rd November 2007


Omair Chaudhry
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Spatial Data Modelling - The transformation of OS MasterMap to 1 : 250 000 scale database


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Intuitive and meaningful interpretation of geographical phenomena requires their representation at multiple levels of detail. This is due to the scale dependent nature of their properties. Considerable interest remains in capturing once geographical information at the fine scale, and from this, automatically deriving information at various levels of detail and scale via the process of map generalisation. Prior to the cartographic portrayal of that information, model generalisation is required in order to derive higher order phenomena typically associated with the smaller scales.

This research presents a model generalisation approach able to support the derivation of phenomena typically present at 1:250,000 scale mapping, directly from a large scale database (1:1250/1:2500/1:10,000). Automatic derivation of the required geographic phenomena requires that we model various relationships among the objects in the database. This research focuses on two types of relationships: taxonomic and partonomic. The research demonstrates the importance of both of these in the transformation of spatial objects in the source database into required objects for the target database.

The utility of the results obtained, via the implementation of the proposed methodology, is demonstrated using spatial analysis techniques and the creation of 'links' between objects at different representations needed for multiple representation databases. The output database then acts as input to cartographic generalisation in order to create maps (digital or paper). The results are evaluated both quantitatively and qualitatively using with manually generalised datasets.


Friday 9th November 2007


Prof. Shaun Quegan
Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Sheffield
Director, Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics

Title: Testing and Improving Carbon Cycle Calculations with Remote Sensing Data



Friday 2nd November 2007


Spencer Chainey
Director of GIS, Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, University College London

Title: GIS and Crime Mapping


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Crime has an inherent geographical quality. For a crime to occur it involves an offender and a suitable target to come together at a place, at some point in space and time. Understanding the role that this 'place' has and the importance of other geographical factors that result in why a crime occurs can offer vital clues that contribute to improving how we respond to and tackle crime problems.

Crime mapping is the direct application that comes from considering the inherent geography in crime. It also involves much more than just the production of pretty hotspot maps for management reports and the office wall. Crime mapping particularly contributes to the intelligence development process, helping to generate a real understanding of criminal activity and the direction in tackling it.

This presentation will explore this inherent geographical quality to crime and illustrate how GIS, geographical analysis and spatial thinking is contributing to supporting improvements in policing and partnered crime reduction activities.


Friday 12th October 2007


Dr. Matt King
Newcastle University

Title: Changes in Elevation of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, over 40 years ... plus some GRACE results


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Antarctica's ice shelves are sensitive to changes in both ocean and atmospheric conditions and thus may represent "early warning systems" for climate change effects in Antarctica. Furthermore, their potential role in regulating the flow of onshore ice onto the sea (and thus influencing sea level) has been dramatically demonstrated in the case of the Larsen B Ice Shelf. Recent satellite altimetry results have shown that, between 1992 and 2001, Antarctica's ice shelves exhibited mean elevation trends (dh/dt) commonly in the region of +-0.2m/yr, with a few much larger exceptions. However, over periods as short as ~10 years, regional environmental variations may mask a longer-term (in)stability. The main part of the talk will discuss one of the longest spans of velocity and elevation change data for a large Antarctic ice shelf, the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica. The Amery Ice Shelf data set, starting in 1968-69 provides a truly multi-decadal data span, placing these shorter data sets into context and highlights some curiosities in the altimetry record in that region.

The final, shorter, part of the talk will report on an investigation into aliasing of ocean tides into GRACE (satellites measuring Earth's gravity field) time variable gravity fields around Antarctica, and hence GRACE-based ice mass balance estimates. It is shown that some tidal constituents are aliased into ~3 and ~7 year terms and that published GRACE results will be biased by tidal mismodelling. The most recent release GRACE products, using a more accurate (but not perfect) tide model, are much improved but further improvements are required.


Friday 21st September 2007


Dr. Cameron Easton
Scottish Executive

Title: The Spaces, Faces and Places of Scotland


One of the key elements in implementing "One Scotland: One Geography" (The Geographic Information Strategy for Scotland) is the creation of a spatial Data Infrastructure for Scotland. This is being summarised as "The Spaces, Faces and Places of Scotland. This presentation will describe the feasibility studies and proof of concept projects that will be carried out during 2007/08. These will provide the information necessary to justify the public sector expenditure that will create Scotland's SDI during the period 2008-2011.


Thursday 6th September 2007


Prof. Harvey Miller
Professor & Chair, Department of Geography, University of Utah

Title: Place-based versus people-based accessibility


Accessibility is core to many theories and methods addressing many social, economic and urban phenomena.  Traditional methods for measuring accessibility focus on the spatial separation between key locations in individuals' lives such as their home and workplaces. These are place-based accessibility measures since they are functions of locations rather than people.  While still viable and useful, place-based accessibility is increasingly incomplete.  A place-based approach to accessibility by itself is no longer viable in a world where transportation and communication technologies are drastically changing the relationships between people and place. The continuing development and deployment of geographic information systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies are greatly enhancing the ability to collect and analyze data relevant to accessibility analysis. This lecture argues that traditional, place-based measures of accessibility should be enhanced and complemented with people-based measures that are more sensitive to individual activity patterns and accessibility in space and time. I will also present some of my work on developing people-based accessibility measures in network, multi-dimensional and virtual spaces.


2006/07 Programme



Friday 4th May 2007


Dr. Chris Merchant
Lecturer in Earth Observation, Edinburgh University

Title: A response to 'The Great Global Warming Swindle?'


Streamed video version available on Google video.



Thursday 22nd March 2007

Prof. Mike Jackson
Director, Centre for Geospatial Science, University of Nottingham


Title: An Agenda for Geospatial Intelligence Research

The Centre for Geospatial Science at the University of Nottingham was launched in November 2005 with the objective of undertaking research into geospatial intelligence, geospatial interoperability, mobile location-based services and aspects of telematics. Its remit is to undertake mid-term research in these areas directed at addressing major topics of governmental and industrial concern and with a particular applications focus in the area of disaster management, mitigation and recovery.

The presentation covers the progress of the first 18 months including the identification of technology drivers and definition of the research agenda. The outcome has been the creation of a highly multi-disciplinary research group crossing both traditional areas of concern to the GI scientist as well as the incorporation of strong computer science and human factors elements. Whilst the research horizon is mid-term it has been necessary to consider longer terms trends in a number of fast moving technology areas to try to ensure that energies are spent on what will be tomorrow’s problems rather than today's passing inconveniences.


Friday 16th March 2007

Dr. Andrew Shepherd
Edinburgh Earth Observatory
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Recent sea level contribution of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets

After a century of polar exploration, the past decade of satellite measurements has painted an altogether new picture of how Earth’s ice sheets are changing. As global temperatures have risen, so have rates of snowfall, ice melting, and glacier flow. Although the balance between these opposing processes has varied considerably on a regional scale, data show that Antarctica and Greenland are each losing mass overall. Our best estimate of their combined imbalance is about 125 gigatons per year of ice, enough to raise sea level by 0.35 millimeters per year. This is only a modest contribution to the present rate of sea-level rise of 3.0 millimeters per year. However, much of the loss from Antarctica and Greenland is the result of the flow of ice to the ocean from ice streams and glaciers, which has accelerated over the past decade. In both continents, there are suspected triggers for the accelerated ice discharge—surface and ocean warming, respectively— and, over the course of the 21st century, these processes could rapidly counteract the snowfall gains predicted by present coupled climate models.

Talk slides here (Portable Document Format)

Friday 2nd March 2007

Dr. Genevieve Patenaude
Edinburgh Earth Observatory
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Operationalisation of remote sensing for forestry

The UK public and private forestry sectors are now considering the use of Remote Sensing (RS) as a complementary means of obtaining forest information to that provided by traditional field surveys. Whereas in the past, the UK has been slow to translate RS research successes into operational systems, these are now increasingly considered given the reduction in instrumentation and operational costs. Through international collaboration, pan-Government liaison and pilot system testing, the current knowledge transfer (KT) initiative aims at exploring, exploiting and disseminating RS knowledge. In this presentation, I will discuss the UK forestry priority needs and whether these can be met with RS tools, systems and data.


Friday 23rd February 2007

Prof. Chris Gold
School of Computing, University of Glamorgan
European Union Marie-Curie Chair in GIS

Title: GIS: Objects Are Not Enough

GIS theorists for the last 20 years or more have failed to respond to the challenge of Leibnitz that space is the expression of the relationships of objects embedded within it, or to Einstein's comment that empty space has no meaning.

They have failed to look at the dimensionality of the objects they implicitly embed; they have accepted that connectivity is a "hard" problem best left to commercial outfits and computer scientists; they have failed to look at spatial relationships other than superimposing objects; they have failed to treat fields seriously, relegating them to trivial rasters; and they have retreated to their last defences of discussing only things that may be chopped up and put in databases.

If we want to be scientists we must pick up the challenges of the hard problems again. If spatial data is information that has no meaning separated from its location in space, it is evident that its relation with other information at other locations is fundamental to any understanding of the world we live in. We must reach beyond our own narrow discipline (that we think is broad because so many things are geography) and seriously woo the many disciplines that involve spatially-realizable objects. We must go back to looking at the stars and asking: "What is Space?"


Friday 2nd February 2007

Stuart Gardner
Scottish Executive Geographic Information Service

Title: Sharing Spatial Information Within the SEERAD Family

Enterprise level GIS and spatial data management has become the norm in central government organisations today. This has been driven by the high cost of data licensing and the mainstreaming of GIS technology. The next logical step is to cross the corporate firewalls and begin sharing spatial information services between organisations.

In 2005, the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department started work on implementing a corporate GIS infrastructure that would allow the efficiency gains from enterprise level GIS to be extended to a multi-agency environment.

The opportunities and barriers exposed by the SEERAD GIS project re-enforces the need for a coordinated and standards based NSDI for Scotland.

Talk slides here (Portable Document Format)

Friday 26th January 2007

Prof. Keith Clarke
Geography Department, University of California, Santa Barbara
Director, National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Santa Barbara

Title: Is there a theory of Geographic Information?

Much research in geographic information science has been technical, but pursuit of theory can increase the perceived and actual value of Geography and geographical information to other disciplines, and so a theory of geographic information is a desirable research goal. Models of information theory from computer science, primarily following Claude Shannon’s entropy concepts, have provided a background, but a new approach or paradigm now seems necessary. Fortunately, geographical representational models are well developed and formalized, even standardized. Yet in terms of abstract information, beyond Shannonian content, spatial data must also account for spatial relations, process and time within the geographical geometry; and also must communicate confirmation, level of detail, relations and pattern. I review the first fragmentary precursors to a new theory of GI, suggest that missing elements are links to energy and matter, and conclude that the lack of a theory will eventually hamper GIScience as we drown in the vastness of data now coming on-line, since not all geospatial data are of equal scientific value.

Talk slides here (Portable Document Format)

Friday 1st December 2006

Prof. A. Stewart Fotheringham
Director, National Centre for Geocomputation (NCG)
Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Title: New ways of Looking at the World: A Sample of Research at the National Centre for Geocomputation

Advances in technology are allowing unprecedented access to large volumes of spatial data; a situation that challenges us to find innovative methods of converting such data into useful information. This seminar will cover three aspects of geocomputation as currently being practised at the NCG. One concerns spatial data capture through GPS-linked sensors with an example given of digital video; a second concerns the visualisation of spatial data through continuous cartograms with an example shown of Irish population dynamics; and a third demonstrates the measurement of spatial varying processes through Geographically Weighted Regression. Some introductory remarks will also be given about the NCG.

Stream Recording (Windows Media Video)

Friday 24th November 2006

Alan Moore
Forth Valley GIS, Stirling

Title: GIS and Public Sector Reform "The Local Government Perspective"

Over the last 5 years, the public sector has undergone significant change in the modernisation and reform of its services. Over the same time, there have been signifcant changes in GIS technology and the geographic information marketplace. This talk considers the changing backdrop to the delivery of public sector services in Scotland and how the role of GI/GIS is supporting the development, transformation and sharing of efficient public services as well as some of the key organisational and technical challenges ahead.

Talk slides here (Portable Document Format)

Friday 17th November 2006

Prof. Pip Forer
School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Auckland

Title: Spreading Gain, Spreading Pain: Modelling the impact of the hyper mobile classes at multiple scales in Aotearoa New Zealand

On the surface the core of this presentation is the phenomenon of the growth and changing impact of international tourism in New Zealand, a country with a number of similarities to Scotland. Certainly the talk will offer a substantive look at the growth trajectory of tourism and its geographic manifestations, but behind this is a concern with a far wider agenda. That agenda is centred on the need to explore ways to describe, visualise, generalise and model individual flows, and beyond that to identify structural patterns in those flows, and the impacts of those flows on the geographies they traverse. At the very heart of this is the better understanding of spatial processes that stretch from financial flows to disease transmission, and embrace the enterprise of achieving a more dynamic view of human GI Science. This seminar will elaborate on the methodologies being developed for exploiting New Zealand's national data bases, and conclude with a comment on the opportunities for dynamic GIS.

Stream Recording (Windows Media Video)

Friday 27th October 2006

Prof. Paul Boyle
School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St.Andrews

Title: Geographical Health Variations in Scotland

This talk considers health inequalities in Scotland over the last two decades. The relationship between deprivation and mortality is considered in detail, and the evidence for the 'widening health gap' is discussed. We also explore how mortality variations relate to population mobility and compare the health of the Scots with English and Welsh people living in Scotland. Finally, we focus on the example of suicide and explore how the health gap has widened, but also whether there is any evidence of suicide clustering in Scotland.


Friday 6th October 2006

Dr. Daniel Donoghue
Department of Geography, Durham University

Title: Remote sensing of forest cover: new techniques and opportunities or potential that is always just out of reach?

Several factors appear to have come together to encourage the development of new ideas and techniques in remote sensing for forest cover assessment. Such factors include concerns over the role of land cover change in climate change, the demand for better information on biodiversity and also commercial concerns over the cost of managing forests at a time when timber prices are low worldwide. In many countries, including the UK, there is recognition that remote sensing can help to deliver quantitative data over large areas in a way that is reliable and cost effective.

The seminar will use examples from forest mapping studies in Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK to illustrate the potential of fine spatial resolution optical imagery and airborne LiDAR. There will be a discussion of the potential to model tree height, volume and even in some cases species using innovative techniques such as LiDAR; there will also be an acknowledgment that there is still much work to be done to link remote sensing to biophysical models for forest growth on the one hand and commercially useful mapping techniques for the forest industry on the other.

Talk slides here (Portable Document Format)

Friday 29th September 2006

Prof. Paul Longley
Department of Geography, UCL
Deputy Director, Centre for Applied Spatial Analysis, University of London

Title: Some issues in the development and application of geodemographic profiling

Geodemographics, the analysis of people by where they live, is undergoing a renaissance in public sector applications, particularly in education, health and policing. In that geodemographics provide measures of neighbourhood conditions that connect with individual and household circumstances, they also have important roles to play in promoting spatial literacy, in effecting knowledge transfer of the core organising concepts of the discipline of Geography, and thence in halting the continuing decline of the discipline in UK education and research.

This seminar will develop and illustrate these issues with respect to:

    - some developments in the specification, estimation and testing of bespoke and general purpose geodemographic classifications
Stream Recording (Windows Media Video)

2005/06 Programme


Friday 9th June 2006

Prof. Jim Frew
Visiting Professor, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh

Title: Computational lineage of satellite-derived data products – first steps

Jim Frew is Associate Professor in Environmental Information Management at the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, an interdisciplinary graduate school based at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  During this last year, he has been a visitor to the UK Digital Curation Centre and the Database Group at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

His talk will feature a review of his recent work designing web-based information systems to deliver satellite-derived data products (for example, water content estimates for snow-covered mountain ranges) to their scientific users.  A prominent feature of his system architectures are in-built methods to record and allow queries on the provenance (lineage) of each custom data product. This provenance information is key to capturing the algorithms behind derived data, and is critical for curating (properly managing and archiving) scientific data collections for the long-term.

Talk slides here (Portable Document Format)


Friday 16th May 2006

Dr. Görres Grenzdörffer
Steinbeis Transferzentrum Geoinformatik, Rostock

Title: Low-cost remote sensing for natural resource management

Dr Görres Grenzdörffer, vice chair of the Steinbeis Transferzentrum Geoinformatik, Rostock will be coming along to the Institute to give a talk entitled: "Low-cost remote sensing for natural resource management" on Tuesday the 16th of May at 4PM in the old Library.

Dr. Grenzdörffer completed his PhD studying the use of remote sensing for precision farming and  is currently a researcher at the Institute for Management of Rural Areas at the Rostock University. As usual refreshments in the form of beer, wine and snacks will be provided and we would urge you to come and join us for what should prove an interesting insight into the practical application of remote sensing.


Friday 24th March 2006

Prof. David Miller
The Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen

Title: Landscape simulation and monitoring, linking data to use

Pressures for change in the rural and peri-urban landscapes of Scotland lead to the use of complex and equivocal data and information in the advocacy, or rebuttal of changes in land use, management practice, or regulatory control. This in turn can lead to misinterpretation of the reasoning or objectives of such change, or the likely directions of change (e.g. following the uptake of CAP reform and opportunities under the Rural Development Programme or pressures for a diversity of energy supply).The role of scientific research in the provision of an evidence-base for management decisions at a range of scales (e.g. city park, farm, estate or region) requires data, or knowledge, in the form of inventory, interpretation and a means of exploring options.

Studies of landscape change, for which tests were conducted on the role and effectiveness of visualisation tools in presenting scenarios of change in urban and rural landscapes are used to discuss the value of such tools in aiding public participation in decision regarding land use and landscape change. The presentation will consider how visualisation techniques can be used for testing factors associated with preferences for landscapes, and virtual reality tools for use in aiding the advocacy of cases by professional and public stakeholders.


Friday 24th February 2006

Ms. Ilona Kemeling
PhD student, Department of Geography, Durham University.

Title: "Understanding and predicting mining subsidence in North Yorkshire, using radar interferometry".

In the coastal area of North Yorkshire, potash is extracted at depths of 0.8 to 1.3 kilometres. The undermined area is approximately 40 square kilometres and is subsiding gradually at a maximum rate of 60 mm per year. Ground surface deformation associated with deep mining activities tends to differ from that accompanying shallower extraction. Prediction of the gradual rates operating over large extents is a challenging problem due to the range of complex variables that combine to determine the deformation of the surface. Complex environmental processes such as mining-induced subsidence can be modelled empirically if large monitoring datasets of sufficient distribution, accuracy and reliability are available.

An empirical model was built based on an alternative data-driven approach using statistical techniques in combination with a relational database, using two datasets. This approach utilises past patterns of monitored subsidence to predict future movements at any point in space and time as a consequence of mining activities. In addition to the existing levelling dataset a new dataset was created using space-borne radar Persistent Scatterer Interferometry (PSI). In her presentation, Ilona evaluates the PSI technique and present an improved method of understanding complex deformation processes.


Friday 3rd February 2006

Prof. Austin Tate
Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh.

Title: "The Helpful Environment - geographically dispersed intelligent agents that collaborate"

"Imagine in the not too distant future that every citizen, vehicle, package in transit and other "active devices" can be treated as a potential sensor or responder. Individuals or vehicles that need help, as well as local, regional, national and international emergency agencies, could look up specialized capabilities, or find local availability of help and seek support to enable a much more responsive and effective environment. Systems could inter-operate to enable preventative measures to be taken so that those in imminent danger of natural and other hazards could be forewarned by their own systems, and by the people, vehicles and buildings around them. A truly "helpful environment" could be created that is accessible by all."

Talk slides here (Links to external website)




This seminar qualifies for 1.5 points under the AGI Professional Development scheme.
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