Tuesday 18th March saw the annual conference of the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) in Scotland, promoting geographic information as a vibrant sector of the British economy. This exciting multi-stream event attracted around 170 attendees from industry, local and national government, and academia to the magnificent surroundings of Glasgow City Chambers. The conference was themed around ‘Future Cities’ and how geography and geographic information could contribute to better planning, intelligent cities and tackling social problems.
More than twenty GIS Masters students travelled through from Edinburgh to attend the event, accompanied by Programme Director Bruce Gittings, who is also Vice Chair of the AGI in Scotland. The students attended the conference sessions and were able to take part in the workshops. They were able to extend their knowledge of the industry and ‘network’ as they approach the time when they will be seeking jobs.
Delegates were welcomed by Cllr Gordon Matheson the Leader of Glasgow City Council, with other speakers including Iain Paton, a member of the delivery team for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and television personality Prof Iain Stewart, who very effectively linked the themes of building design, with his own interests in geology and the relevance of geography.
Bruce Gittings also hosted a very successful visit to the conference from pupils studying geography at Douglas Academy in Milngavie, along with Erica Caldwell from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and Abigail Page and Val Marlowe from AGI. Pupils were introduced to the GI industry by Bruce, who stressed its importance in providing employment to graduate geographers. The pupils were delighted to meet Iain Stewart, who took time to explain why he thought industry links were important and answer their many questions. Iain said “This is exactly what AGI and RSGS should be doing – mapping out the future for young geographers”
Last Friday’s EEO/AGI-S seminar was given by Dr. Stuart Barr who presented the progress and results of a long term research of the Centre for Earth Systems Engineering of the Newcastle University. His presentation with title “Urban heat risk assessment and adaption using spatial modelling and Earth observation” focused on the spatial temperature dynamics at the scale of a city and particularly London.
Reflecting on the difficulties that cities are facing with climate change, Dr. Barr began his presentation by introducing the EPSRC network on climate change adaptation and the Urban Integrated Assessment Framework (UIAF), a collaborative work of Newcastle, Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester universities. UIAF forms a combination of various projects that aim in the development of an analytical toolbox for spatially understanding, analyzing and predicting climate change impacts on cities in the future. Focusing on the heat risk in London, the research of Newcastle University intends to create prediction and impact assessment models for predict future heat raises and their potential impact on the urban environment.
Dr. Barr highlighted the importance of detecting and understanding patterns of vulnerability to heat within the city and indicated that for the development of an effective risk assessment model the information over the temperature dynamics and heat hazards must be combined with census and socio-economic data and also with information about the local exposure to heat. This integration of a wide range of disperse data and the implementation of different simulation scenarios allow the prediction of future population and urban development and based on these models potential vulnerable areas can be spotted and emergencies strategies can be developed. A number of interesting results of these prediction models were presented, indicating serious temperature alteration within London and an increase of heat risk around the city centre.
Concluding, Dr. Barr clarified that this project clearly aims to the development of a generic tool that can be applied to any city, providing that all the necessary data are available. Future work involves the transaction from single–hazard to multi–objective risk assessment models that will allow the analysis of multiple risks at the same time. Finally, the potential of moving from a regional to a global scale and the challenging but yet very important nature of such an attempt were briefly discussed.
(MSc in GIS at University of Edinburgh)
The University of Edinburgh has a approved a new MSc programme in Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management which will begin in September 2014. This programme sits alongside our world-leading MSc in GIS and draws on a critical mass of staff and significant research expertise in the area of earth observation and remote sensing. Uniquely in the UK, this new Masters programme is designed to build on Edinburgh’s work in GIS by combining the science of earth observation with the challenge of managing and analysing spatial data. With the range of international Earth observation research, it will also encompass an outward-looking and international perspective. The degree comes with strong support from leading figures in industry in government, recognising that the application of space technologies, including earth observation, is a fundamental component of economic growth with the UK government predicting 20,000 news space industry jobs by 2030, the vast majority in applying the technology and using the data collected. Prof. Iain Woodhouse, who will serve as Programme Director said “this is an important new programme which will provide graduates with very employable skills. It builds on Edinburgh’s considerable expertise in GIS and meets a clear demand in terms of processing and managing large volumes of data available from satellite and air-borne sensors, including the exciting new area of UAVs”