EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Dr. Graeme Buchanan, RSPB Scotland : 7th Dec

‘Remote Sensing for Conservation’ – Dr Graeme Buchanan (RSPB Scotland)

The longevity of many species that inhabit our world is under threat from anthropogenic effects, such as habitat destruction. To find solutions and help those who are vulnerable, it is essential that we precisely monitor these effects. Remote sensing has proved useful for various applications, and its popularity as a tool to aid conservation action has been ever increasing since the first paper on remote sensing for ecology in 1969. In fact, remote sensing can help fill a gap in conservation monitoring and decrease time needed to monitor, as it was previously carried out on foot.

For a special Christmas event the EEO-AGI and Hutton Club seminar series joined together to introduce Dr Graeme Buchanan from RSPB Scotland who discussed how remote sensing can be used in conservation. He explored this notion with case studies from his new book “Satellite Remote Sensing for Conservation Action: Case Studies from Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems”.

Satellite Remote Sensing for Conservation of East Asia’s Coastal Wetlands

East Asia’s coastal wetlands are areas of great habitat importance for passive waders, such as the spoonbill sandpiper. This species’ population has declined massively over the past few years due to loss of habitat from agriculture and urbanisation. Using Landsat data from the 1990s onwards, a map of mudflats and mudflat loss was produced, which went on to influence conservation action. The tool developed to create these maps will be useful for other study areas.

Lessons Learned from WhaleWatch – Predictions of Whale Migration

High levels of whale mortality are caused from entanglement in fishing kit or collisions with ships. WhaleWatch was developed in order to allow ships to monitor where whales are to reduce the possibility of collisions. ARGOS satellite tag data was used to locate and model krill (the main food source for whales) locations, which would indicate where whales are. The data of whale positions was put online using a user-friendly interface and has subsequently reduced whale collision rates.

Wildfire monitoring with Satellite Remote Sensing to Support Conservation

Fire dependent and fire sensitive ecosystems are found over large areas of Africa, such as in Tanzania and Niger. Data from MODIS was used to investigate what areas were being burned and when. Investment into infrastructure (satellites for Internet access) was required to ensure the data from this study could be made available for those in the affected areas.

Dr Graeme Buchanan rounded off his case studies by exploring common themes and lessons learned from these examples and others in his book. He expressed that collaboration of all stakeholders is key and the importance of data remaining free and accessible for conservation. He explained how better temporal resolution may be favoured over a high spatial resolution for conservation action. The usefulness of remote sensing to aid in conservation monitoring and management is clearly evident, although the ground data to calibrate earth observation data is still a necessity. Remote sensing provides a valuable method for monitoring habitat loss, animal migration and wildfires, among many other conservation applications.

“Satellite Remote Sensing for Conservation Action: Case Studies from Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems” edited by Allison K. Leidner and Graeme M. Buchanan is available now.

Kirsty Hulme, MSc Geographical Information Science

[Next talk – Fri 18th Jan 2019 with Layla Gordon, Research and Innovation Scientist, OSGB/OSLabs – http://www.eeo.ed.ac.uk/seminars ]

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EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : David Rush and Lesley Gibson, University of Edinburgh : 12th Oct

Remote sensing detection of fires in informal settlements – IRIS-Fire (Improving the Resilience of Informal Settlements against Fire) – Dr David Rush and Dr Lesley Gibson

Remote sensing applications are continually broadening – primarily through improvement of spatial and temporal resolution of satellite data. IRIS-Fire is an interdisciplinary research project, for which remote sensing techniques are pivotal. The project aims to improve the resilience of informal settlements to fire, carried out by an international team based at The University of Edinburgh and Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Dr David Rush, a project engineer and Dr Lesley Gibson, a remote sensing expert delivered an insight into the research the IRIS-Fire project is undertaking.

Informal settlements are growing around the world with the trend of urbanisation. These settlements are densely packed and haphazardly constructed – with narrow pathways between buildings, chaotic electric cables and highly flammable construction materials. These factors make informal settlements extremely vulnerable to fire. IRIS-Fire is currently focused in the City of Cape Town, where 18-33% of the population resides in informal households. The city experiences at least 1 informal settlement fire per day. The Imizamo Yethu fire in 2017 is an extreme example, where the dwellings of 10,000 people were destroyed.

To improve the resilience of informal settlements to fires, the project is attempting to understand the conditions under which fires occur. Dr Lesley Gibson introduced us to the integral use of remote sensing in the identification of fire events in informal settlements. IRIS-Fire aims to produce a monitoring and analysis framework using satellite data. The purpose of this is to detect fire events, subsequently higher resolution imagery can be used to observe the settlement structure before the fire occurred. A Google Earth time series detects the burnt regions by identifying the change in the optical reflectance signal from the ground surface. Optical sensors are currently the focus of the IRIS-Fire project, particularly SPOT and Sentinel-2 blue band, which have a 10m resolution. Synthetic Aperture Radar methods are also being taken into consideration.

In Cape Town, IRIS-fire has found limited detectable spectral change associated with the burning itself. The rebuilding process, however, has a distinct optical spectral character, as a result of the emergency rebuild kits (the metal roofs of these rebuild kits are extremely shiny) provided by the city of Cape Town to households affected by a fire. This increase in reflectance of the shiny roofs is detectable by satellite. Dr Lesley Gibson informed us of the success in detecting regions exposed to fires by this change in optical spectral reflectance. Research is still underway to reduce the influence of noise and false positives, exploring options such as ratio approaches and spatial autocorrelation.

Dr David Rush introduced us to the research taking place to improve understanding of the computational fluid dynamics of fire, both inside individual buildings and across settlements structures. This includes collecting samples from dwellings to understand their flammability and fuel load and surveys on fire history. Experiments are taking place, in which model settlements are being set alight to consider how settlement structures, such as Euclidian distances influence fire risk and the impact of fuel load, size and ventilation. The experiments are being carried out to develop a mapping algorithm to identify critical at-risk areas within informal settlements.

This seminar was a great insight into this innovative interdisciplinary project. Coalescing the knowledge of engineers, social scientists, fire safety scientists and remote sensing specialists, to improve the resilience of informal settlements against fires. The remote sensing portion provides a method for identifying settlements impacted by the fire, allowing for a time series to assess the structure pre-fire. The modelling of fire dynamics by the project engineers is attempting to produce a mitigation/prevention strategy to improve the resilience of the settlements to fire. While still in the research phases, IRIS-Fire is progressing towards producing a generic risk-mapping framework and best practice resilience-based technical guidelines to improve the fire resilience informal settlements. This will be initially applied to the Western Cape with potential to be extrapolated to wider regions with informal settlements.

Sarah Cheesbrough, MSc Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winning Ways: Telling Stories with Maps

Recent Edinburgh Geographical Information Science graduates Livia Jakob and Miles McConville entered the Esri 2018 ‘Storytelling with Maps Contest’ and won 1st and 2nd place in the Culture, History, and Events category.

Story telling with maps is part of the Visual Analytics course, a course from the MSc portfolio offered by the School of GeoSciences led by senior lecturer Dr William Mackaness. As part of this course, a task is set that requires students to tell a story through a mix of media, maps, graphics and sound. The task involves the use of web based mapping tools. The story can be on any topic; the story must be coherent, compelling, interactive, and above all sustain and reward the reader. The task is no different from the challenges of telling of any good story, but with the additional challenge of incorporating geographic dimensions through the use of thematic mapping, timelines and graphics in order to convey physical and human landscapes.

Students are encouraged to submit their work to an Annual International Story Telling competition organised and judged by ESRI (www.esri.com). ESRI, based in California (USA), is an international supplier of GIS software and applications. Students from the MSc in GIS have won prizes in previous years. Livia comes from Switzerland, where she did her degree in Geography and Computer Science at the University of Bern. She is now working for Professor Iain Woodhouse. Miles is Scottish and worked in outdoor education before returning to Edinburgh. After recently completing his MSc in August he has joined the Edinburgh GIS team as a Teaching Assistant.

Pay or Die? – Prison or Cemetery?

Livia’s 1st place Storymap titled “Pay or Die? – Prison or Cemetery?” tells the story of gang culture and perspectives of children and young adults in El Salvador. Below is a mosaic of images from Livia’s story map. The project can be viewed at: https://arcg.is/S5CH

It Took A Fire

Miles’ Storymap was titled “It Took a Fire” and tells the story of the Grenfell tower fire and its links with social inequality in London. Mosaic of images from Miles’ story map. The project can be viewed at: http://p.ctx.ly/r/803s

Hans Rosling taught us the importance of truth in story telling (www.gapminder.org) and demonstrated the capacity of interactive technologies and visualisation techniques to erode ignorance and challenge bigoted views. Story Maps seek to do the same.

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Leif Isaksen, University of Exeter : 25th May

Over the last years, Archaeologists have identified the importance of sharing the information given the complexity and the amount of our data. The development of web and geospatial technologies has enhanced the capability to publish our information[1]. This does not only imply more original ways of presenting the results from our studies to the public[2]; it also enables archaeologists to work collaboratively through powerful online.

This has been the aim of Leif Isaksen, the speaker of the seminar on the 25th May, who is a professor in Digital Humanities at the University of Exeter and is Project Director of the Pelagios Commons. Leif defines himself as being interested in community exchange. This concern has determined his career towards the unification of his particular interests on the online visualisation and linking of spatial ancient data and his research ambits: Ptolemy’s Geography, the Tabula Peutingeriana and the geographic thought and representation in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Currently he is also an active member of the excavation team in the hilltop enclosure on Cluny Hill in Forres, Moray.

Leif’s talk revolved around the Pelagios Commons project and its focus on linked open geodata in the past-oriented humanities. The ambition of the project is to use the web as a medium for promoting the connection and exchange of online historical resources through the places they refer to amongst its community of users. He also emphasized the fact that its applications are not only restricted to Archaeology or History, as other fields such as poetry and literature also make use of it.

In order to introduce the background of the project, Leif used Herodotus’ Histories as an example and what he called the “semantic miracle”, regarding the identification of places referred in the text. Once this happens, it is necessary to apply the connecting principle to link the words to their location: annotate each string of characters with unique URLs linking to a gazetteer such as Pleiades. However, in this growing digital ecosystem of linked data, a huge variety of resources is available. However, Pelagios as a connecting infrastructure aims to become the toolset that puts all websites and documents about the study place according to the same structure.

Continuing with the same work by Herodotus, the audience was introduced Pelagios Commons’ website as first-time users: automatic identification of location names, color-coding, tagging and the eventual map visualisation. During this explanation, as an archaeologist, the first thing that comes to mind are all the sites whose location remains unknown or uncertain. This is resolved by providing a list of the sources referring to the name, which the user can use to decide if a location has to be assigned. Moreover, the user must confirm if the automatic identifications have been made correctly and can do any modification before the map is created.

Speaking in front of an audience full of GIS students, Leif was clear to note that one of the key points was that all identified places are available as a CSV file for further spatial analysis. Pursuing his interests, he also pointed out Pelagios’ capability to transcribe and annotate on old maps, a feature that has recently been improved so as to display other elements on it. The tools on the website seem to be countless. It is also possible to create emergent networks that connect text annotations together, in which you can apply network analysis. Furthermore, users can collaborate on the same document according to different levels of permissions.

Finally, Leif introduced the latest development of Pelagios Commons project: Peripleo. The website provides the user with a map and a search box. After supplying a word, the map displays the locations associated to the word, which you can click to see more information, and a histogram showing its usage over time. All these features seem exciting and tremendously useful when you want to check quickly the sources and the location of specific elements. As Leif joked, it is a good alternative to Google for historical elements.

After all the technical explanations, Leif addressed the growing scope of the project and engaged us to attend the Linked Pasts IV meeting on December 12-13 in Mainz, Germany. It is exciting to hear how projects like this are trying to engage professionals from all over the world through working groups and development grants. Hopefully this is just the start of the linked open data in humanities!

Guillem Domingo Ribas

(MSc in GIS & Archaeology)

 

The Archaeological Flavouring to ‘Scotland from the Sky’

William Mackaness

18 June 2018

Recently aired on BBC1 Scotland was the three part series, ‘Scotland from the Sky’, presented by Jamie Crawford, who works as a publisher at Historic Environment Scotland, an organisation dedicated to the advancement of heritage, culture, education and environmental protection. One dimension to the series was the role of aircraft in exploring the archaeology of Scotland.

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Looking west along the Gask ridge (Copyright: Kathryn Murphy 2018)

Special amongst the first aviators to comprehend the enourmous potential of aerial archaeology was Osbert G S Crawford. Osbert was a British archaeologist who specialized in the study of prehistoric Britain and became the first archaeological officer of the Ordnance Survey in 1920. He first developed his interpretive mapping skills whilst in the Royal Flying Corps where he was involved in ground and aerial reconnaissance along the Western Front.

 

StrageathRomanFortDetail

The complicated ditch-system of the Strageath Roman fort was first revealed by air photography in 1957 by J K St Joseph. The disturbance to the earth is just as visible today (Copyright: Kathryn Murphy 2018)

Following the end of the war he worked with others (notably the marmalade magnate and archaeologist Alexander Keiller) to gather and conduct his own aerial campaigns including an aerial search for Roman archaeology in the south of Scotland in a de Havilland plane in 1936, piloted at that time by Kenneth St Joseph (also a renowned archaeologist and pilot). As part of the series, the BBC enlisted the services of Dr William Mackaness, School of GeoSciences at The University of Edinburgh. He and his wife Nicola own and fly a de Havilland Tiger moth, based at Scone airfield near Perth. The adventure entailed flying from Perth to Cumbernauld, picking up various archaeology along the Gask ridge and the Antonine wall, whilst being filmed from a helicopter riding shotgun.

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G-BWVT – A 1942 Australian built de Havilland Tiger Moth piloted by William Mackaness

The mission had been variously cancelled due to weather and logistics, but on the appointed summer evening, the sun cast its golden beams across the Scottish landscape, and we gently traveled back in time.

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‘Kaims Castle’ framed in the flying wires of the Tiger moth. The Roman fort is unusual in having a rectilinear rampart defended by curvilinear trenches  (Copyright: Kathryn Murphy 2018).

The Gask ridge refers to a linear set of forts and watch towers, built by the Romans between 70 and 80 AD. Pre-dating the Antonine wall, it extends for 10 miles over land to the north of the River Earn in Perthshire, Scotland. For those wishing to savour the associated imagery and that of the archives of Historic Environment Scotland, there is an accompanying book entitled ‘Scotland From the Sky’ published by Historic Environment Scotland (RRP £25), – available from any reputable bookshop!

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The ridge patterns indicative of the multiple and changing occupancy of Ardoch fort (Copyright: Kathryn Murphy 2018)

Acknowledgement

I am most grateful for use of the copyright images captured by the archaeologist, and graduate of Edinburgh University’s Masters in GIS & Archaeology, Kathryn Murphy, taken on a subsequent flight in June 2018 (kathrynmurphy@hotmail.ca).

 

 

 

Biggest Changes to UK data provision ever contemplated as OS MasterMap becomes free and open

The UK Government made its most important announcement ever today in relation to spatial data provision in the UK when it agreed that “key parts” of the Ordnance Survey’s MasterMap will be made openly available for the public and small-businesses to use.  MasterMap is the definitive detailed base map of the UK and until now has been the  OS’s closely-guarded crown jewels.  Coming remarkably quickly after the UK Government’s enthusiasm to set up a Spatial Data Commission, and a pledge  “to establish how to open up freely the OS MasterMap data to UK-based small businesses in particular” in Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s Autumn 2017 Budget, the Government is determined to “drive forward the UK as a world leader in location data, helping to grow the UK’s digital economy by an estimated £11 billion each year.”  The AGI welcomed this new initiative.

Of course, the devil is in the detail: not all of OS MasterMap will be given away for free.  The focus is on land and property, so it is property extents and topographic indentifiers (TOIDs) which form the basis of this announcement.  There is little doubt that a significant driver here is maximising the amount of land available for house-building.  Other datasets that will be made available for free up to a threshold of transactions through OS-managed APIs, effectively restricting free use to small businesses.  These components include Topography Layer (including building heights and functional sites); Greenspace Layer; Highways Network; Water Network Layer; and the Detailed Path Network.

In many ways the announcement is remarkable.  Reducing the cost of MasterMap was seen by many observers as the new Geospatial Data Commission’s most difficult task, yet the announcement comes almost before the Commission has been set-up and certainly before the Commissioners have been appointed.  It will change the way Ordnance Survey does business, taking away at least some of its main source of revenue and making it forever reliant on government funding.  The government has put aside £40 million per annum for the next two years to fill this gap; it remains to be seen how this will be funded in the longer term.  Given this seems to be a significant announcement at the start of the Geospatial Commission’s journey, there is a degree of excitement as to how this will develop over the coming years.  It comes down to economic benefit; if this benefit is proven and the UK economy is richer because of it, then there must be more to come.

Regardless, this development will provide an enormous boost for our students as they go out to work in a world where the costs of spatial data have dropped drastically, and gives genuine opportunities for them to create their own small businesses, based on free and open-source software and free data.  It also challenges those who have promoted the Open Street Map (OSM) project.  This crowd-sourced data generation project was undoubtedly one of the drivers which have led to the freeing-up of the OS MasterMap data, but its modus operandi in the UK is changed overnight.  The OSM project already had to adapt when the Labour Government under Gordon Brown decided in 2010 that OS should give away its small-scale data for the national good.  OSM adapted by increasing its scale to provide a free alternative to the more detailed data maintained by OS.  It will now have to adapt again and may become a niche product without a USP and never seen as definitive.

 

 

Its now OFFICIAL – no more Shetland in a box

Representing remarkable interference by government in freedom of expression, the Scotsman Newspaper reported today that the Islands (Scotland) Bill has been passed in the Scottish Parliament.  It passes complete with an amendment from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, such that it is now officially illegal to put Shetland in a box!

Following the points made in my previous blog post on this issue, I have no doubt that this shows a complete lack of cartographic understanding and considerable disrespect to those living in Mainland Scotland, which is arbitrarily reduced in size by 40% following this decision.   We await with interest the first prosecutions….

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Jamie Pearce, University of Edinburgh : 27th Apr

Complexity and uncertainty in geography of health research: incorporating a ‘life course of place’ perspective – Jamie Pearce

As geographic information specialists we are quite good at considering the implications of space, however the issue of time is somewhat neglected. This was at the centre of the seminar delivered by Professor Jamie Pearce who demonstrated the research benefits of a longitudinal perspective to place, space and health.

Jamie Pearce is a professor of health geography at the University of Edinburgh and is part of the CRESH research group. His work considers social, political and environmental processes affecting social and spatial inequalities in health. His primary argument in this seminar was that these processes are inextricably linked and that local particularites matter in understanding health over time. Life course theory looks at the critical periods of development that contribute to healthy ageing in utero, through childhood into adulthood and older age. It considers the various lifestyle factors and socio-economic factors that can have an impact on health and wellbeing.

Professor Pearce highlighted green space as an environmental factor that has been shown to have a widespread impact on health outcomes in Scotland. This was exemplified through research undertaken by the CRESH team. They have utilised the Lothian Birth Cohort, born in 1936, and surveyed some of those participants over the last decade to investigate the impact of place on public health over time. These results of these surveys have been combined with historical data – including digitising historical maps and boundaries – to understand the environmental factors.

Key findings included that access to green space had a positive impact on both mental health outcomes and also on cognitive ageing. Much of these benefits seem to be derived from childhood experiences and that accumulation of green space throughout life was also significant. It was also found that there was a correlation between high levels of anxiety and the most socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

These findings were said to show how the life course of a place can contribute to deeper understanding. It can help establish critical periods and causal relationships over time. It can also demonstrate the role of place in establishing and perpetuating inequalities, showing how historical processes can impact on human lives and who may end up trapped in areas with environmental disadvantages.

Some key limitations were emphasised, both methodological and conceptual. Dealing with time is a well recognised problem for geospatial studies. Often we have to deal with snapshots of places over time which can miss the more subtle and ever evolving nature of places, a challenge that must be faced in CRESH’s research. There are also challenges in dealing with the changing of administrative boundaries of time which can make analysis and the extrapolation of meaning increasingly difficult.

Jamie concluded this fascinating talk by illustrating some opportunities for further study – including aiming to look at a wider set of environmental characteristics and to scale this type of study nationally. The seminar showed that life course theory can have a significant impact on our understanding of space by focussing on the role of time, and of environmental factors at the various stages in life. This can help to offer evidence that can shape key policy decisions in child health, cognitive ageing and environmental inequalities.

Sophie McCallum, MSc in Geographical Information Science

Is Shetland a cartographic compromise too far?

MSP Tavish Scott intends to introduce an amendment to the Islands Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament, which would compel public bodies to “accurately and proportionately” depict Shetland in relation to the rest of the country.  He point out the the cartographic tendency to place the archipelago in a box somewhere off Scotland’s east coast is annoys island residents, as they feel like their home is an afterthought on maps. Great for inclusion, exactly what the Islands Bill intends to do one would think.

But what are the implications?  The Shetlands Times describes the placing of Shetland-in-a-box as a geographical error.  It is plainly not, it is a cartographic compromise. And there are always implications to a compromise.  To include the Northern Isles in their actual geographical location, separated from the mainland by almost 100 miles of water, would reduce the scale at which the country can be displayed by around 40%.

 

 


Paradoxically, not only does this mean that Shetland is displayed in much less detail, but also Scotland’s smaller Council Areas (eg Dundee) effectively disappear, reduced from any kind of area to an insignificant point, or major features such as the Firths of Tay and Forth lost under text-labels for Dundee and Edinburgh. We are left having to put the Central Belt in a zoom-box because of the loss of detail in areas where most people live, or having to use two sheets of paper rather than one for maps of Scotland.  Just as well we don’t live in Chile, that narrow but 2653-mile / 4270-km long country is almost impossible to viably display on a single sheet of paper.

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The circumstance of Shetland-in-a-box (and indeed Orkney-in-a-box-too) is a feature of maps intended to display our entire country with a reasonable level of detail.  It is neither a feature of Ordnance Survey mapping, which divides Scotland into numerous sheets, nor of modern online maps such as produced by Google or Bing, where detail can be displayed dynamically depending on levels of zoom. Even the BBC weather map is zoomed and panned to display details, so can include all parts of the country.  But traditional maps are, and have always been, replete with cartographic compromises, whether it be omitting details unneccessary to what the map is trying to portray; projections which show Greenland as twice the size of Australia or diminish the importance of equatorial regions; or scale which displays the world’s mega-cities as insignificant dots rather than immense polygons or displaying streets as two or three times their actual width so they can be seen at all.  We may be uncomfortable with some of these choices, but the professionalism of the cartographer should ensure appropriate use.  Maps are by their nature gross simplifications of the real world.  Each individual map has a purpose and it is crucial that cartographers are not hampered by political correctness.  It is important that Tavish Scott raises this issue, and reminds us of the value of inclusivity in terms of some of our most topographically-stunning and economically important islands, but it is equally important that cartographers are not muzzled in the maps they produce.

(Map images from Google)

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Julie Procter, Greenspace Scotland : 16th Feb

[NB March seminar rescheduled for May (25th); *Next talk*: Fri 27th Apr]

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review: Julie Procter, Greenspace Scotland: 16 February

Friday 16 Feb 2018

For the February edition of the EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar in Edinburgh, we welcomed Julie Procter to the Geography building and were rewarded with an engaging foray into the new OS Greenspace map products and their many applications. Julie is the Chief Executive of Greenspace Scotland, which she has led since it was established in 2002. Though she was hasty to mention to the assembled crowd of geospatial scientists that she was personally no tech expert, her talk provided a refreshing change of perspective as an exploration of the history of the Greenspace Map’s development and the new possibilities afforded by its newest iteration. The title: “Using OS greenspace to transform urban places into people places.”

Julie began by describing the challenges and successes of the original Greenspace map of Scotland, released in 2011. The public benefits of accessible greenspace are directly related to many objectives of the Scottish Government, so there was great interest in developing a resource to manage and display this data, but at the time there was no unified repository for greenspace data. The first release of the Greenspace map solved this issue, but the team quickly realized that keeping it up to date was going to be a monstrous task; this realization led to their partnership with the Ordnance Survey. The OS Open Greenspace map now updates every 6 months, and the OS MasterMap Greenspace Layer for public sector and academic use also includes more categories such as woodlands and private gardens.

After this tour of the history of the greenspace products, Julie decided to give the audience a bit of homework. Distributing post-it notes, she asked us to write down some of our ideas about how we might use the greenspace data while she went on to describe how it’s been used recently by a number of organisations. From local council land use strategies to greenspace network development on regional scales, the public sector has been an important and innovative user thus far of the greenspace data.

As a final theme, Julie covered some big news from the very recently published Third State of Scotland’s Greenspace Report. The new MasterMap Greenspace Layer enabled the production of some eye-opening statistics and figures about the urban greenspace in Scotland. For example, the area of urban greenspace in Scotland is equal to 22 Loch Lomonds, or 1593 square kilometres – enough for one green tennis court per person (of course, it is not currently the plan to convert all of Scotland’s greenspace into tennis courts). These figures are exciting, but Julie reminded us that many of the public benefits of greenspace depend on the quality of that space and whether it is used, and assessing that quality is the next big step for the Ordnance Survey, Scottish Greenspace, and the Scottish Government.

We diligent members of the audience did not forget that we had homework, and nor did Julie. She opened a discussion to follow up on the group’s ideas on potential uses for the greenspace data, which had the excellent benefit of seamlessly transitioning to a question and answer session. Audience engagement was high, particularly as the MSc students had previously used the OS Open Greenspace data for a project and were keen to ask clarifying questions and to share their experiences with the dataset.

Luckily for members of AGI Scotland who did not attend the Edinburgh seminar, Julie also spoke at the organisation’s annual meeting on 27 February, contributing to the theme of GI Applications. It will be exciting to watch for new research and, hopefully, new strides ahead for Scotland’s greenspace that will be enabled by this important resource.

Taylor Willow

(MSc Geographical Information Science at University of Edinburgh)