School of GeoSciences

EEO-AGI(S) Series Programme 2016-17

A Seminar Series in GIS, Remote Sensing, and GeoInformatics organised by the Edinburgh Earth Observatory in conjunction with the AGI-Scotland

GIS Futures: Desktop GIS, Heritage, OpenData, Parallel GIS, Future Cities, Future Transport and Infrastructure

Old Library, Geography, Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP

Unless otherwise indicated, all talks are to be held in the Old Library at the Institute of Geography , University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh.

Note: In order to better-accommodate professionals attending talks, seminars are now held at 4.30pm in the Old Library, Geography, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, except where otherwise stated.

These are then followed by AGI Geo-Drinks in Teviot Library Bar, EH8 9AJ at 5.45 allowing plenty room for informal professional networking.

Friday 30th Sep 2016, 4.30pm

Future GIS 1

Charles Kennelly

Chief Technology Officer, ESRI UK

Title: The Future of GIS

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Charles has worked in the GIS industry for 2 decades, starting life as a digitiser and working through many aspects of the industry. Initially in local government and latterly with Esri UK, Charles has been involved in the design, development, deployment and management of a number of successful GI systems. Now working as the CTO for Esri UK, Charles specialises in finding ways of making GIS accessible to ordinary users in wide-ranging environments, from consumer mapping to enterprise and business critical systems.

Friday 14th Oct 2016, 4.30pm

Future Archaeology

Prof. Andrew Bevan

University College London

Title: Archaeology, Historical Geography and the Data Deluge

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Archaeology, history and geography have all wandered into exciting but daunting territory, with huge quantities of new evidence, both systematic and serendipitous, as well as further floods from neighbouring subjects. Moreover, this information deluge is digitally-rich, increasingly spatial, frequently open-licensed and often remotely-sensed. With regard to the study of the human past (and the related story of a human environmental impacts), these changes are sufficiently profound to suggest that the very operating conditions for archaeological and deep-historical research are being transformed, with important consequences for how we interpret, contextualise, quantify and compare archaeological evidence, as well as for how we learn, teach, collaborate and publish. Drawing together comparative examples from the Mediterranean islands, international shipping containers, the Chinese terracotta army, European prehistory and the Domesday book, this lecture charts the increasingly Diluvian information landscape across which we explore human history.

Friday 4th Nov 2016, 4.30pm

Future GIS 2

Arthur J. Lembo, PhD

Associate Professor and Technical Director, ESRGC Salisbury University,  Maryland, USA

Title: Exploring the potential of using your teenager's gaming computer as a high performance computing (HPC) GIS workstation

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As a result of the computer-gaming industry's relentless demand for increased speed, low-cost graphics cards and multi-processor architectures have allowed the average desktop to become supercomputers in themselves through the addition of massively parallel processing architectures.  Although these architectures were originally designed for “gamers,” the massively parallel processing streams are also available for non-gaming use, such as GIS.  Parallel techniques in desktop GIS is relatively new and almost nonexistent in the field of GIScience. This presentation will provide an overview of the techniques available to GIS users and will discuss the benefits and limitations of each approach.  The approaches include both parallel solutions using multi-core processors and graphical processing units (GPUs).  

Friday 11th Nov 2016, 4.30pm

Joint Hutton Club/EEO-AGI(S) Seminar

Stuart Grieve

Land Surface Dynamics Group, GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Title: Uncovering signatures of geomorphic process through high resolution topography

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Friday 25th Nov 2016, 4.30pm

Future Cities

Iain Langlands

GIS Manager, Glasgow City Council

Title: Engagement - Enlightenment - Excitement

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“Future Cities Glasgow”, Glasgow’s Smart Cities project, benefited from £24 million of Innovate UK investment and innovation funding to prove that a mature city could develop sustainable Smart Cities projects and, importantly, that they could be scaled up to a city region scenario. So, what is the legacy of that exciting project? Glasgow has come a long way with Future Cities, learning valuable lessons alongside both predicted and surprising discoveries. The biggest surprise of all is not so much the consequential organisational and cultural change which has permeated across all Services but the speed of change and the realisation of the value of location-based information (GI colleagues excepted!). Learn how the established City Council business-models are changing and why “data” is now at the heart of every strategic decision. It’s not just Smart Cities anymore – it’s Smart “everything”!

Friday 9th Dec 2016, 4.30pm

Christmas Special: Map Projections for Modern Transport

Dr.  Jonathan Illife

University College London

Title:  Finding your way through the coordinate maze – GIS, GPS and map projections for planes, trains and ships

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Whether navigating a ship, building a railway, or controlling aircraft movements, the choice of a coordinate system that is fit for the purpose required is essential. Equally, transforming and converting data between one system and another is an everyday requirement when combining GPS data with mapping systems, or merging land and marine data sets in the coastal zone. This talk will cover some of the fundamental principles involved in selecting, designing and transforming coordinate systems, and will illustrate these through sample projects such as VORF (Vertical Offshore Reference System) and SnakeGrid.

Jonathan Iliffe is senior lecturer in geodesy at University College London. He is the co-author of Datums and Map Projections for GIS, Remote Sensing and Surveying, is the co-PI for the VORF project, and is the inventor of the SnakeGrid concept.

Friday 20th Jan 2017, 4.30pm

Future Land and Property

Dr. Janet Egdell

Operations Director

Registers of Scotland

Title: Digital Transformation at the Registers of Scotland

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Digital Transformation Digital is changing everything, from how we work to how we consume services. Technology is advancing every day, and the way we live our lives is overwhelmingly influenced by the internet. Digital is also significantly better for the environment, saving tonnes of paper every year.  Registers of Scotland is undergoing a digital transformation, moving from a paper-based organisation to one that always does everything digitally as the first option.  Recent legislation has already allowed an increase in the proportion of digital applications received, rising overnight from five per cent to over 20 per cent.  Boosting this figure will be a large focus of our work over the coming years as we do everything we can to protect our environment and make registering property faster, easier, and more secure than ever before.

General Register of Sasines - 400th anniversary year. 

2017 The General Register of Sasines - also known as the sasine register - is the world's first public register of property ownership rights, dating back to 1617. It is a chronological list of land transaction deeds, which contain written descriptions of what the ownership covers.  Wednesday 28 June 2017 will mark 400 years since the sasine register was created by the Registration Act 1617. 

Friday 3rd Feb 2017, 4.30pm

Future Spatial Data Infrastructure

Iain McKay

Improvement Service

Title: The Spatial Hub

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The Spatial Hub is a resource which provides a single point of access to quality assured Scottish local authority data in a consistent format. It is developed, operated and managed by the Spatial Information Service within the Improvement Service.  Individual local authorities provide datasets to the Spatial Hub where they are conflated into a standardised format and published as a national dataset.

Friday 24th Feb 2017, *12pm*

Festival of Creative Learning Special - Future Techniques 1

Dr. Paul Chapman

Acting Head of School

School of Simulation and Visualization

Glasgow School of Art

Title: Virtual Reality. Temporary distraction or real opportunity?

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VR has been around for decades but recent technical advances have caused a huge surge in popularity within the last 24 months. Haven't we been here before? Is this yet another failed push by the tech companies with gimmicky technology crying out for real-world applications? Or, have we reached a tipping point similar to the birth of the web in the early 90's where it's now time to get on board or be left behind? In this talk I will be demonstrating the incredible advances in computer graphics in the last 30 years and will look at some real applications of state of the art computer graphics and virtual reality in the world today.

Dr. Paul Chapman is Acting Head of the School of Simulation and Visualisation at the Glasgow School of Art where he has worked since 2009. Previously Paul was Director of the Hull Immersive Visualisation Centre and spent several years working as an offshore engineer in the oil, gas and diamond mining industries. Paul holds BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in Computer Science, he is a Chartered Engineer, Chartered IT Professional, Fellow of the British Computer Society and member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy. Passionate about technology, Paul applies his experience to real-world problems in numerous disciplines including experimental psychology, archaeology, marine visualisation, speech rehabilitation, flying simulation and medical visualisation. He has several years of managerial and project management experience and has won a number of awards including the 2009 UK Industry Awards: IT Innovative Project of the Year.

Twitter: @pixelbeans

Friday 24th Feb 2017, *4pm*

Festival of Creative Learning Special - Future Techniques 2

Joint Hutton Club/EEO-AGI(S) Seminar

Dr. Rebecca Hodge

University of Durham

Title: CT scanning and 3D printing: New tools for quantifying fluvial sediment dynamics

Friday 3rd Mar 2017, *4pm*

Joint Hutton Club/EEO-AGI(S) Seminar - Future Techniques 3

Dr. Andrew Cunliffe

University of Edinburgh

Title: Terrestrial carbon in degrading drylands: A study of soils, sediments and plants from drones

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Friday 31st Mar 2017, 4.30pm

Future Transport

Stephen Cragg

Transport Scotland

Title: I know where you were last night!

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Part of planning for transport systems of the future involves a need to understand how people use transport systems today. How many people are commuting to work by bicycle, how many parcels are being delivered by small vans, how many people are taking the train to go for a night out in Edinburgh?  Traditionally, these questions were answered by going out and stopping people and freight vehicles and asking them about the journey they were making. However, new opportunities are now available through advances in camera technology (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), short-range wireless communication (Bluetooth) and the near ubiquitous carrying of mobile phones.  This presentation will discuss some of the practical challenges of turning these data sources into something useful and you can discover if I really do know where you were last night!

Stephen Cragg is a Transport Planner. In spite of wanting to grow up first to be a giraffe, then a chemist, he accidentally became a transport planner. Through his work he has developed a passion for data, maps and understanding why people make the travel choices they do. It is to his eternal embarrassment that despite knowing his left from his right, he still doesn't know his east from his west.

Friday 28th Apr 2017, 4.30pm

Future Learning

Prof. Jonathan Silvertown

Chair in Technology Enhanced Science Education

University of Edinburgh

Title: Making Edinburgh a Global City of Learning

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Edinburgh is the home of the Scottish Enlightenment and to this historic milestone of intellectual achievement it adds a panoply of accolades: the architecture and townscape of a World Heritage Site, the first UNESCO City of Literature, the largest arts festival in the world, the greenest city in Britain, the capital of Scotland and the seat of the Scottish Parliament. Edinburgh University ranks in the UK top 4 and in the global top 20. Through the middle of this assortment is thrust the City’s own volcano, like a skewer through a kebab of delights. In this lecture I will propose adding one more delicacy to the dish: Edinburgh – Global City of Learning.

The idea is to turn the entire city and its environs into a pervasive, interactive learning environment, visible to the world. Through a smartphone or other device, anyone in Edinburgh will be able to learn about the rocks beneath their feet, the buildings and trees around them, the history of every location and the art in every vista, carry out their own investigations and make their own contributions to knowledge. Realising this vision requires a technical infrastructure that we have begun to build and that we have named Edinburgh Cityscope. Physical borders define the uniqueness of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Cityscope will present this in a borderless showcase.



Friday 19th May 2017, 4.30pm

Future Living

Dr. Alasdair Rae

University of Sheffield

Director,  Sheffield Q-Step Centre

Title: The United States of America, or just a bunch of 'megaregions'? An alternative view of the economic geography of the United States?

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Abstract: In this presentation I discuss a recent piece of research I conducted on the geography of so-called 'megaregions' in the United States. In collaboration with my colleague Garrett Nelson at Dartmouth College (US), I used a large dataset and cloud computing to algorithmically define commuter megaregions in the United States. The paper was published in PLOS ONE in November 30 2016 and since then has racked up more than 220,000 views. The associated data has also accumulated more than 44,000 views and 6,400 downloads on Figshare. The reason for this is partly because it was an open access paper but also because it struck a chord with people, as we saw through the large number of post-publication engagements, including a Reddit AMA on the topic. In short, we offered a new view of the economic geography of the United States that cuts across existing state and county boundaries in order to define 50 new 'megaregions'. My presentation includes lots of maps and emphasises the benefits of speaking beyond the 'echo chambers' of our own academic disciplines.
Bio: Alasdair Rae is Reader in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield in the UK. His work focuses on the manipulation, analysis and visualisation of large geographic datasets in relation to cities, neighbourhoods, transport and economic development. More widely, he is a proponent of open access, open data and open source software and seeks to make use of the wide range of new datasets that have become available in recent years; always with the aim of answering important underlying questions. His data analysis and mapping work has appeared in a variety of media outlets, including The Economist, the BBC, the Daily Mail, CityLab, the Washington Post, WIRED, The Guardian, and National Geographic. He tweets at @undertheraedar and blogs at and is currently Editor in Chief at open access journal Regional Studies, Regional Science.