Married. Four kids. Two dogs. Wife. Not in that order.

Mar 082011

I’ve wanted for a while to put up a list of things that might be of interest to others and have contemplated trying to do something clever with the proto mind-map (see earlier posts)… but I’m just not that clever. So, I’ve resorted to the tried and tested unordered list.

For your general delight have a poke about with:

The Big Data debate at Strata 2011 – Strata was an event dedicated to celebrating and advertising the latest tech trend: big data.

EpiCollect which “provides a web application for the generation of forms and freely hosted project websites (using Google’s AppEngine) for many kinds of mobile data collection projects.”

A nice infographic summarising the state of the Cloud.


 March 8, 2011  Posted by at 4:00 pm Misc. Comments Off on Muster point for interesting stuff
Mar 022011

Posts have been few of late as we move towards a revamp of this esteemed epistle.

Expect a more glitzy, eye-candyish blog in the not too distant future.

For now this caught our eye as an interesting geospatial app in the arts and humanities…

 March 2, 2011  Posted by at 4:02 pm Misc. Comments Off on All Quite on the Western front..
Feb 012011

I can now disclose the successful 15/10 projects which will form the focus for GECO. In alphabetical order they are:

  1. Bristol University is hosting the ‘Nature Locator’ project, tagged as #NatureLocator
  2. Edinburgh University is hosting the ‘Spatio-Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisations’ project, tagged as #e3viz
  3. Edinburgh University is hosting the ‘Interoperable Geographic Information for Biosphere Study’ project, tagged as #iGIBS
  4. Essex University is hosting the ‘Unlocking the Geospatial potential of survey data at the UK Data Archive’, tagged as #?
  5. The Institute of Education, University of London is hosting the ‘Geo tools for Teachers’ project, tagged as #?
  6. Leeds University is hosting the ‘Exploiting geo-spatial datasets to enhance crime analysis and related research methods’ project, tagged as #geoCrimeData
  7. Leicester University is hosting the ‘Improving and Enhancing a Vital Spatial Research Asset’ project, tagged #?
  8. Nottingham University is hosting the ‘e-Learning Framework for Using Geospatial Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards’ project, tagged as #?
  9. The Open University is hosting the ‘Document and Integrate Ancient Linked Open Geodata’ project, tagged as #PELAGIOS: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems?
  10. The School of Advanced Study, University of London is hosting the ‘xEvents / PhilEvents’ project, tagged as #xevents
  11. The University College London is hosting the ‘Geospatial Engine for Mass Mapping Applications’ project, tagged as #gemma
  12. The University College London is hosting the ‘Bridging the Gap between the GeoWeb and GIS’ project, tagged #?

More on these soon but a good launching point (in fact the counterpart to this blog is) the jiscGEO blog maintained by the 15/10 Programme Manager.

 February 1, 2011  Posted by at 3:21 pm Misc. Tagged with: , ,  1 Response »
Jan 252011

Below is  a list of INSPIRE Annex III Themes alongside a first stab at mapping UK HFE people against them. The aim here, is to have a contact against each theme who can subsequently act as primary adviser/lean expert for queries related to any particular theme.

12 Natural risk zones – Matthew Harrison, BGS
13 Atmospheric conditions – Spiros Ventouras, STFC
14 Meteorological geographical features – Spiros Ventouras, STFC
16 Sea regions – Dominic Lowe, STFC
17 Bio-geographical regions – Margaret Carlisle, University of Aberdeen
18 Habitats and biotopes – Margaret Carlisle, University of Aberdeen
19 Species distribution – Margaret Carlisle, University of Aberdeen
 January 25, 2011  Posted by at 11:24 am INSPIRE Comments Off on ANNEX III Themes and people
Jan 242011
the journey of a 1000 steps

its gotta start somewhere

Its almost time to start thinking of GECO as a process that’s underway rather than a prospective project that will happen in the future. Until the full list of 15/10 funded projects are in the public domain Ill keep things fairly general but hopefully shortly Ill be able to start integrating and commenting on the funded proposals. After all, these are at the core of GECO and will form the most visible corpus of work to showcase how relevant geospatial technologies are. Indeed something that was in today’s news and is geospatial in nature would seem to further underpin the view that geospatial technologies are moving into a new era of ubiquity, pervasiveness and (one hopes!) utility..

Ive also started the beginnings of a mind-map as I alluded to in an earlier post.

 January 24, 2011  Posted by at 2:22 pm Misc. Comments Off on Starting the thinking..
Jan 192011

Name of JISC SP or ‘sub service’: Infrastructure Call 15/10; Geospatial Strand

Name of Project: GECO – Geospatial Engagement and Community Outreach

Directly Incurred Staff[1]

Project Manager: 25% FTE


Project Office (INSPIRE focus): 5% FTE


Project Office (INSPIRE focus): 5% FTE


Promotion and Publicity Officer: 5% FTE


Project Office (Linked Data focus): 5% FTE


Senior Software Engineer: 5% FTE


Software Engineer: 5% FTE


Junior Software Engineer: 15% FTE


Administrator: 5% FTE


Helpdesk: 5% FTE


Social Media Officer: 20% FTE


Total Directly Incurred Staff (A)


Directly Incurred Non-Staff

User Support


Documentation & e-content


Promotion, T&S & Conferences

(includes UKLP engagement, INSPIRE outreach and EDINA travel to micro events plus funding for a series of local micro events, some reserved to fund guest speakers,INSPIRE domain experts + some contingency )


Technical and Operations: Equipment & Support


Staff Development


Total Directly Incurred Non-Staff (B)


Total Directly Incurred Costs (C)



Total Requested From JISC


No: Full Time Employed


(across 11 staff)

 January 19, 2011  Posted by at 9:37 am Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Project Plan Post 7 of 7: Budget
Jan 192011

Work Package outline

WP1 – Project Management (inc reporting etc) [JR]

Purpose: General oversight and project direction setting.

WP2 – Synthesis and collation [JR,AR,CH]

Purpose: To ensure that the primary aim of GECO is achieved – the wider promotion and engagement of ‘communities’ to utilise geospatial resources. Ensuring maximum exposure of project and aims to widest audience, focusing on ‘growing’ the community via the successful 15/10 projects by bootstrapping and ensuring synergy across and within disciplinary silos.


Bookend all-hands events


Social Media outreach [NO] NB JISC view this as principle means to reach a wider audience(s) so this is viewed as central to outreach activities


15/10 Project portfolio

Local Micro events

GWG,MRDP,RDTF and Linked Data Focus

Liaison with DFF / JISC synthesis work

WP2a – Logistical support [AB,JW,IE]

Purpose: to assist with admin for event organising/travel. Directing GECO related queries from the community. Promotion and usual ‘marketing’ (Newsline, conference stands etc)


Help desk [HMc]


Purpose: To ensure that EDINA takes lead in ensuring HFE readiness for INSPIRE. To better scope the problem and to brief the wider community – both at ‘coalface’ and senior institutional managers.

Baseline ‘info packs’ ; briefing

UKLP engagement/INSPIRE tracking

Legal/records management work inc data audit

Production of decision tree for institutions

WP4 – Technical Assist (inc LD) [BB,JW,SEx2]

Purpose: To ensure project outputs are integrated into EDINA services, that any new services interoperate with ours and to provide a ‘fall-back’ infrastructure for INSPIRE data publishing.

Fallback data publishing infrastructure (INSPIRE as Service)

15/10 outputs integration

WP5 – Eval & impact review [JR]

Purpose: To ensure project overall objectives have been met and that Programme level outcomes are communicated to broad audience. Critique may influence future decision on JISC ‘geo programme’ funding.

Best practice exemplars

Functioning demonstrators/services/data products

 January 19, 2011  Posted by at 9:36 am INSPIRE, Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Project Plan Post 6 of 7: Projected Timeline, Workplan & Overall Project Methodology
Jan 192011

The GECO Project Team consists of the following individuals at EDINA.

James Reid – Project Manager and principal contact

Role – primary interface to 15/10 funded projects, chief GECO blogger

Anne Robertson, Project engagement with INSPIRE focus, GECO blog contributor
Chris Higgins, Project engagement with INSPIRE focus, GECO blog contributor
Andrew Bevan, promotion, community liaison, GECO blog contributor
Jo Walsh, technical adviser with focus on linked data,GECO blog contributor
Ben Butchart, Senior software engineer, 15/10 project deliverables will require some integration with existing JISC infrastructure (e.g. dataset delivery, service integration)
TBC, Soft Engineer
TBC , Junior Soft Engineer
ADMIN, various for administration (time keeping, travel booking, finances)
HELPDESK, various, for front line support to users, channeling enquirers to relevant persons and ensuring all queries are logged and dealt with in  a timely fashion.
Nicola Osbourne, Social Media Officer, primary orchestration of ‘virtual community’ via social media channels (supplementing GECOblog)

In terms of end user engagement there are effectively two strands to this – the establishment of a ‘virtual community’ around the funded 15/10 projects (hence the prominence of blogs and social media channels) and the more old fashioned face-2-face, event based engagement (via what we term ‘localised micro events’). Our plan for the latter is to runs  a series of these over the coming year at geographically dispersed locations in order that the 15/10 projects (or logical groupings of them) might extol the virtues and benefits of geospatial resources to a local (and hopefully ‘non-trad’ geospatial) community.

Once the full list of 15/10 funded projects is announced  we can commence to establish synergies and connections between them and the micro-events as a way for individual projects to establish a rapport and dialogue that we hope will continue indefinitely…

I came across this image which in many ways encapsulates some of what GECO is aiming for (excluding the distance learners bit, although that would be a nice by-product if it transpired..)

 January 19, 2011  Posted by at 9:36 am INSPIRE, Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Project Plan Post 5 of 7: Project Team Relationships and End User Engagement.
Jan 192011

2011 and so to our fourth ‘project plan post’ on the delightful subject of licensing.

The underlying philosophy behind the approach to licensing in GECO is quite simple – make things as open, reusable, free from restrictions and domain agnostic as is practicable.

That said, it is recognized that under certain circumstances this is aspirational and it is just not always possible to live up to the democratic ideal. For example, in cases where there is licensed 3rd party content or viral licenses impose their own commutative restrictions. Derived data issues around Ordnance Survey data spring to mind.

Anyhow, the basic tenet is one which GECO aspires to and the funded 15/10 projects are all expected to pay more than lip service to the philosophy ion order that public monies benefit the broadest audience – a sort Benthamesque  Utilitarianism in the field of open data and services.

In practice, we will aim to use something like the Open Database License or Creative Commons to ensure that we aim for Bentham’s greatest felicity principle.

 January 19, 2011  Posted by at 9:31 am Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Project Plan Post 4 of 7: IPR (Creative Commons Use & Open Source Software License)
Dec 072010
Customer: “Ive been doing risk analysis by hand for five years, and we finally got your program so we could do it automatically — but theres a bug in it. The answers come out differently each time.”
Tech Support: “Sir, are you aware that our program uses Monte-Carlo analysis?”
Customer: “Of course I am. Thats why I bought it.”
Tech Support: “Sir, do you know what Monte-Carlo analysis does?”
Customer: “Dont get rude with me, of course I do.”
Tech Support: “Put briefly, sir, it runs through your project several times, throwing random delays in, and at the end it averages out the results.”
Customer: “I know all that — what I want to know is why it keeps giving me different answers every time I run it.”

So. Risk. The bane of any project – all those uncertainties and unknown variables. What to do? Ignore it? Pretend everything is within controlled limits and there are no dependencies? Well, ideally yes, if you like an easy life and think that the world is  a forgiving place! Try that one on with your Programme Manager and see how far you get!

So. Risk. You have to live with it and the real trick is to have in mind where things can (or are likely) to go pear shaped and how to correct things if and when they do. Crystal balls! I hear you scream and to a degree yes, you do need a sense of the mystic, but on the other hand we all deal with risk every day and manage it to greater of lesser degrees of success – the recent weather in Scotland is surely a risk but its effects were compounded by poor risk analysis (some might say complete lack of it, but hey, government’s a tricky walla and you can’t anticipate heavy snow in Scotland in winter surely?).

The point? Think ahead, second guess where things might go wrong or, perversely too right – greater success can be a risk in itself.


What are the Risks of Not Taking Risks?

The table below is  a summary of perceived risks for GECO. Of course its not exhaustive, nor is in intended to be. A more ambitious effort might lead us onto defining a risk register but we are not dealing with that degree of risk management here. In general, the bigger the stakes at risk, the greater the likelihood you’ll need a Risk Register – somewhere to note down what can go wrong and what you intend to do when it does. For our purposes the below is the risk assessment and acts as the register.

The risk table for GECO

GECO Risks

 December 7, 2010  Posted by at 12:13 pm Project Plan Tagged with: , , , ,  1 Response »