Nov 282011

Today we are blogging from the JISC Geo Show & Tell event taking place at RAVE (Ravensborough College), which sits right next to the Millennium Dome/O2 Arena in London. The hashtag for today is #jiscgeo – please tag any of your own blog posts, images or tweets with this. The full programme of JISC Geo Programme Meeting events over the next few days can be found here.

The day will split into 2 halfs. This morning we will have a Keynote from Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Assistant Director of Geospatial, Cartographic and Scientific Data & Services, Stanford University. This will be followed by an introduction to all of the JISC Geo projects by David F Flanders, JISC Programme Manager for Geospatial Innovation. Then we will break for lunch and in the second half of the day there will be a Show & Tell session where each project shows off their work around lab-style tables. We will be liveblogging the first half of the day but then manning both a INSPIRE table and a JISC GECO events table so we will blog highlights of this afternoon towards the end of the day.

David Flanders, is introducing us to the day with an alert to keep that QR code reader app handy – there’ll be lots of QR codes appearing through the day… Also there will be blogging, tweeting, images, videos, etc. going on all day. All of these should be available under Creative Commons licences and available after the event. Please make your posts etc. available similarly and use the #jiscgeo hashtag.

Continue reading »

 November 28, 2011  Posted by at 9:41 am 15/10 Projects, Events Tagged with:  1 Response »
Nov 182011
Ahead of the big Show & Tell event in London at the end of November (more on that in a second) we are delighted to share a wonderful set of posts that introduce each of the magnificent JISC Geo projects!
Each project has blogged a summary of their work, the product they have created, the key posts throughout the project, etc. Click on “Read more…” to access the full “product post” from the list below:
ELOGeoImage of the ELOGeo Project Team 

The e-learning resource for anyone curious about open geospatial data , tools and standards – Read more…

GEMMAAn image of the GEMMA counter tool 

Make complex map mashups with a minimum of geographic knowledge – Read more…

GeoCrimeDataAn Image of building types in Leeds in data from the GeoCrimeData Project 

Taking existing geospatial data making it useful for crime analysis – Read more…

GeoSciTeachAn Image from the GeoSciTeach tool 

Science learning goes geospatial with GeoSciTeach! – Read more…

Halogen 2Image of the HALOGEN2 team 

A model and a tool, HALO-view, for researchers looking to explore multiple complementary geographically referenced data sets – Read more…

IGIBSImage of the IGIBS Project Team 

An INSPIREing tool enabling researchers to share their geospatial data over the web – Read more…

IIGLUA screenshot from the IIGLU demo video 

A framework for teaching geospatial information concepts to learners outside the discipline of GIS – Read more…

NatureLocatorImage of the NatureLocator Conker Tree Science iPhone App 

A geospatial smart phone application enabling public engagement in biological survey work via the crowd sourcing of data collection and data validation – Read more…

PELAGIOSAn image of the PELAGIOS Graph Explorer tool 

Allowing students, researchers and the general public to discover the cities of antiquity and explore the rich interconnections between them – Read more…

STEEVImage of the STEEV project team 

A stakeholder engagement tool developed to visualise varying spatio-temporal patterns of modeled energy use and efficiency outcomes for the period of 1990-2050 for an area of South WalesRead more…

U.Geoimage of the u.geo browser 

Unlocking spatial units in social science survey data – Read more…

Image of the xEvents site.xEvents 

A new kind of calendar for academic events in philosophy targeted at researchers and graduate studentsRead more…

Show & Tell

Excited about all that Geo goodness? Well you can meet any and indeed ALL of the project teams at the end of programme events in London on Monday 28th November 2011. We encourage students, researchers and teaching staff from all disciplines to attend and sample these fantastic new tools so that we can further their usefulness to everyone in Academia.

For a Draft Agenda for the event please see:

To register for this event please use the following link (Day 1 is the ‘Show and Tell’ Day described above):

Please use or follow the hashtag “#jiscGEO” to discuss this event on your favourite social network.

 November 18, 2011  Posted by at 5:58 pm 15/10 Projects, Misc. Tagged with:  Comments Off on Behold the Magnificent JISC Geo Projects!
Oct 192011

A few weeks ago we gave you a heads up that an event, organised by the IGIBS and NatureLocator projects, and focusing on how environmental research data can be made interoperable across sectors will take place on Friday 11th November 2011 at the Welsh Government Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff.

We are delighted to let you know that this event now has a title “Collaborative by Nature: Interoperable Geospatial Approaches to the Environment“, a hashtag: #gecoenv, and bookings are open here:

A broad range of speakers from the academic, public and private sectors will be taking part and we expect the event to generate some very interesting discussion and a particular opportunity to gain some insight into the developing plans for how the devolved government of Wales is rolling out INSPIRE.

There will be an opportunity to see the first demonstration of IGIBS’ innovative work to enable UK access management technology to secure public sector services in combination with academic sector services. In addition to innovative technical work the IGIBS team have been doing some great work on researchers’ user requirements and their recent post on the relationship between INSPIRE and Universities is well worth a read, particularly if you were following related discussions at the INSPIRE for Social Sciences event earlier this month.

At the Collaborative by Nature event we will also be hearing from the NatureLocator team about the success of their LeafWatch phone application which has been tracking Leaf Minor Moth damage to Horsechestnut trees across the UK this summer. If you have been following this project you will also be interested to know that they have a shiny new Conker Tree Science LeafWatch website where you can take part in the process of validating LeafWatch data.

As usual we will be blogging and tweeting from the Collaborative by Nature event so if you are not able tot make it along in person do keep an eye on the blog and our @jiscgeco tweets on the day.

 October 19, 2011  Posted by at 12:08 pm 15/10 Projects, Events Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Upcoming Event: Collaborative by Nature
Oct 062011

“Because everyone will eventually have ‘an App’ in their pocket that uses GPS!”

JISC is pleased to announce the launch of several new BETA products and tools centred around geospatial technology and aimed at Universities, Colleges and Schools. Come along and experiment with these soon-to-be-released products at a special one day event on Monday November 28th at Ravensborough College (next door to the Milennium Dome) in London. We encourage students, researchers and teaching staff from all disciplines to attend and sample these fantastic new tools so that we can further their usefulness to everyone in Academia. Come along and discover how Geo really is part of everyday work and play 🙂

So, what can you expect?

Well, we have a fantastic set of geospatial tools and projects including these highlights:

Are you a student? You’ll want to see the #Gemma project (University College London) and their cool new Android and iPhone apps that help collect data for research projects and assignments and then present your data as colourful maps. Want to impress your teachers and get a better grade on your next assignment? Want to use your smartphone for data collection? Then you need to check this event out.

Are you a researcher? You’ll want to see how the Halogen2 (University of Leicester) project have build cross-disciplinary geo links between DNA data and other scholarly datasets: archaeology, genealogy, history…. Welcome to the future of cross-disciplinary research!

Are you a teacher? You’ll want to see the new handbook that GeoSciTeach (Institute of Education) is producing on how to integrate geospatial tools into class activities. See how they used mobile phones to conduct a lesson at Kew Gardens, making the great outdoors into an interactive teaching and learning space. In short, you’re not cool unless you’ve got geospatial in school!

Best of all the day is finished up with an evening Awards party (in the Millenium Dome!) for the projects and all their hard work. Come shake hands with these projects, toast their success and find out who will win Geospatial project of the Year!

For a Draft Agenda for the event please see:

See you there.

Please use the hashtag “#jiscGEO” to talk about this event on your favourite social network.

To register for this event please use the following link (Day 1 is the ‘Show and Tell’ Day described above for these projects – though you are welcome to stay on and learn more about geo on the other event days):

 October 6, 2011  Posted by at 2:18 pm 15/10 Projects, Events Comments Off on Beta Launch of New Geospatial Technology Tools
Sep 192011

A wee post to share the exciting news that NatureLocator‘s Leaf Watch phone application and the Conker Tree Science project was featured on Friday night’s The One Show!

You can jump straight to their appearance by clicking here (the piece starts at minute 39) or by clicking on the image below:


screen shot from the NatureLocator/LeafWatch appearance on the One Show

Leaf Watch appears on the One Show - click to access the full piece.

 September 19, 2011  Posted by at 1:30 pm 15/10 Projects Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on NatureLocator’s Leaf Watch Application Featured on the One Show
Sep 162011

The giant green Conker Leaf symbol is blazing over the Scottish skies and the green phone is flashing… Something isn’t right in Conker City: there is a severe absence of Scottish records in the Leaf Watch database!

Have the Leaf Miner Moths been pilfering the records that show their sinister spread across the country?

Could the GeoRiddler be behind the mysteriously mis-located early Scottish records?

Why are the Leaf Minor Moths able to proliferate with such peculiar proficiency?!

Will emergency broadcasts in the Sunday Times and Farming Today be enough to rouse the Scottish naturalist masses?

To the Leaf (Smart)Phone!

NatureLocator Android QR code

Androids Only!

NatureLocator iPhone QR code

Apples Only!


Tune to this Leaf Channel:


Tune to this Leaf Channel:

And if you’re a Leaf Minor Moth then, Holy Minor Leaftastrophy! Your days could be numbered…

Tune in next week – same GECO-time, same GECO-channel!

 September 16, 2011  Posted by at 1:47 pm 15/10 Projects, Humour Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on SCOTLAND: NatureLocator Needs You!
Aug 222011

GeoSciTeach Have placed QR codes for plants around Kew Gardens. They provide the context of plants and connections between plants. The phone app was trialed. Students felt ‘freed’ to explore the learning themselves. Teachers seem very keen in exploring innovations and apps.

Nature Locator (horse chestnet leaf disease) There were some troulbes/delays with the Apple App Store relatiing to being a university not an individual The Apple App Store take 2-3 weeks for approval, whereas Android market can be released right away (this was known, and so the Android version was uploaded when the iPhone app had been approved) Screenshots are available Good success with over 3000 submissions of images/reports. Very few (less than 20?) inappropriate reports. Great geographic distribution (across the UK).

IGIBS Datasets considered. Thoughts about which WMS software to use, and patches made to be INSPIRE compliant. They have lots of users, that will be both providers and condumers of data, to use as case studies for the work. There’s lots of data to preserve. They’re making it easier to find data.

STEEV Decided that visualising at house-level is too deatiled to offer any meaningful representation Decided to additionally create a REST API, so the view state can be returned to. Will be discussing the implementation of the framework 19th Sep. Mock-ups (pretend screenshots) are available

ELO Geo Have been learning a lot about management tools available to use, especially some created/provided by JISC that they didn’t find straight away. E.g. Jorum and JISCMail. Repositry has been launched, and following OSGIS conference some lessons/information has been added to it.

Pelagios Lots of discussions in their big team of thedata mappings and ontologies, making sure they get it right. Claros joined Pelagious and added data. The Pelagious Graph Explorer now has a live demo. Very good for exploring the data and an intuative interface.

xEvents Have gone through lots of code and database design thoughts. Blog is very much a view of their technical work at the moment and why they are writing patches and modules for the libraries/frameworks they use (though the, very technical, ‘how’ is written up in another blog that gets linked to). No demo or screenshots yet.

GeoCrimeData They’ll be presenting their work so far at a number of conferences in September. Source code has been released for the tool that calculates the Mean Path Depth of each road in an area (using OpenStreetMap road data). This can be used to show an estimated traffic value for each road. It’s not directly crime data, but can be useful to see along side and the dataset/tool may be useful in a similar way to other projects and evaluations.

G3: Bridging the Gap Presented at State of the Map EU (OpenStreetMap) and met the OSM GeoWeb community. The OpenStreetMap community were very impressed with their work, especially the Potlatch(an OSM editor) evaluations through user studies they had done. Some recomendations for improvements have now been implemented and others are more likely to now that the research supports the improvements happening.

U-Geo Datasets and their unit size have been reviewed. Mapping of UKDA to INSPIRE, and GEMINI to DDI 2.1 has been completed.

GEMMA They’re in the process of creating iPhone and Android apps. Combinging existing CASA products: Survey Mapper, OSM Feature Highlighter, MapTube Presented at State of the Map EU (OpenStreetMap). SurveyMapper could provide lots of helpful information very easily (a survey, but combined with locations) such as what is the geographic distribution of people wanting to buy Olympic tickets. Unfortunatly noe of the surveys are getting near enough responses for observations to be made.

JISC GECO We held our first event on Open Source Geo and Health this month and are now planning follow up activities with those who attended. We are also putting together future events around geo so do let us know if you would like to be involved. A new mailing list has also been set up this month for discussion around geo, sign up here.

 August 22, 2011  Posted by at 7:45 am 15/10 Projects Comments Off on #jiscGEO Projects August Update
Jul 142011

As we are now a fair way through the project activity we thought it would be a great time to see what’s been happening with the various JISC Geo projects we are working with. All have their own blogs so here are our recent highlights:

ELOGeo (#elogeo), which is developing guidance and processes for sharing and building best practice in eLearning best practice has been making great progress and have recently launched the repository they have been preparing for the elearning materials and resources that are being created and aggregated in the project.  ELOGeo have also been running around the place appearing at Open Source Junction 2 in Oxford, the International Cartographic Conference in Paris and ELOGeo will also be in use at the Open Source GIS Summer School in Girona. If you are interested in elearning or teaching geographic concepts then the ELOGeo blog should definitely be of interest.

GEMMA (#gemma) moved it’s blog to a lovely new website a wee while ago and you can now join their announcement list. GEMMA have also launched an adorable wee gerbil logo to be the face of the very clever but simple to use mapping tools it will be launching later this year. Watch this space…

geoCrimeData (#geoCrimeData) have been doing initial analysis of their data and considering reasons for some of the patterns they’re been spotting. The team also recently undertook a survey of crime analysts to get a sense of how the tool they are building could be tailored to fit the needs who regularly work with crime data. And, as they continue work on their high resolution dataset, the team have lined up a busy conference schedule for late summer/early autumn – have a look at their Presentations page for more info on these.

Screen Shots of the prototype GeoSciTeach Phone App

Prototype GeoSciTeach Phone App Images


GeoSciTeach (#GeoSciTeach) have gathered the priorities of teaching staff for their phone application for learning and teaching with a GIS dimension. They have also shared screen shots of the app. The team have trialled the app at Kew Gardens, using QR codes on individual plants, and have written some really interesting reflections on the experience of using their phone app in this teaching context. Keep an eye on the blog for more updates.

Halogen 2 (#halogen2) have been reporting on the RCUK and HEFCE announcement to support Open Access – you can see the blog post from the team here and the announcement here. The project had it’s first board meeting in late May and have been prototyping their data extraction tool and loading new data into HALOGEN since. Read more in their June Update.

IGIBS (#igibs) has a new team member and he’s written his first post on current Dyfi projects. The team also ran a workshop at the recent Inspire Conference in Edinburgh. They’ve started a whole area of the blog for follow on their work, INSPIRE and authentication so do head over there, have a look at the slides and add your comments to the INSPIRE2011 page.

JISC G3 (#jiscg3) have been busy with usability work – which will be presented at the Open Street Map State of the Map Conference in Vienna next week – discovering that GIS is not user friendly, what the priorities are for teaching new learners GIS and they have been reflecting on the differences between managing research and programmers (a really interesting read). Read all that and the team’s recent thoughts on map projections over on the G3 blog.

NatureLocator (#naturelocator) have launched their app! This is a huge milestone for the team and we’re really excited to hear that, across both iPhone and Android apps, there have already been almost 200 downloads! The team have also spotted some of horse chestnut leaf mining moths and managed to grab some beautiful photos including, and this is not good news for horse chestnut trees, a pair copulating. So download that app and start looking out for damage on trees near you!

PELAGIOS (#pelagios) have welcomed CLAROS to the project with a great guest post on how CLAROS is bringing ancient art onto the semantic web. The team have also been reflecting on the process of selecting and using Open Licences which will be of interest to many. And, if you are in the mood for something more technical, the Pelagios team have written about how Arachne Places and Topographical Units are being used to annotate Pleides Places.

STEEV(#e3vis) have shared the evolution of their interface – from whiteboard sketch to mock up to working prototype. This followed a visit from Simon Lannon of Cardiff University to discuss the data and design of the visualisation tool in more detail. The blog’s been a little quiet of late as the team work hard on turning that prototype into a working tool. Keep an eye on the blog for updates.

U.Geo (#geoukda) have been hard at work reviewing licences and data to find the geospatial potential of survey data in the UK Data Archive. The team have posted a concise but very detailed snapshot of the work they have been completing to date which is well worth a look.

xEvents / PhilEvents (#xevents) have been continuing to explore the functionality needed to make their geo-aware calendar app for academic events feature-rich such as enabling the cropping of the uploaded images and ensuring passwords are handles securely. If you following the xEvents project you might also like to see the team’s earlier work on xPapers.

So, that’s where all of the #jiscgeo projects are right now. Here at GECO central our main focus has been on getting our first event, the Open Source Geo and Health workshop (#gecohealth), ready. If you are interested in how geo relates to health and research, policy and interventions related to health then please do book your place now!

Oh, and a final footnote: we have set up an email list for the GECO team to share news and for discussion on all things geo! You can find us on the JISCMAIL site as JISC-GECO.

 July 14, 2011  Posted by at 5:11 pm 15/10 Projects, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Project News – and gosh there is a lot to report!
Jun 012011

This week saw the return of Spingwatch to UK TV screens. This is a cause for excitement not only because it’s “full of sex and violence (in the animal kingdom)” but also because it gives us an excellent excuse to talk about two of our fantastic JISC Geo projects that should be of particular interest to budding and academic naturalists alike.

IGIBS (#igibs) is working on tools for researchers to share and discover research through mapping their results, through viewing other data available, through seeing what other studies have taken place on/in the same place. The project is looking specifically the huge quantity and variety of research which takes place in the UNESCO Designated Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere Reserve.

The Dyfi Biosphere is not only beautiful but also contains a uniquely rich variety and quality of habitats which attracts a phenomenal array of bird and other wildlife species. This is fantastic for researchers on biodiversity, on particular soil types (such as the famous Borth Bog), and for naturalists of all kinds… which is presumably why this year Springwatch is also based there!

So, if you become curious about the science and research taking place in and around the Dyfi Biosphere as you see the Springwatch team presenting from the RSPB Ynys-hir reserve (see below) over the next three weeks, do have a look at the IGIBS project page (or keep an eye out on this blog) for updates on this important (and clever) tools for researchers in the Biosphere. And if you happen to be a researcher with data on Dyfi do get in touch with us or the IGIBS team.

Image of the Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve in the Dyfi Biosphere

Image of the Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve in the Dyfi Biosphere - taken whilst visiting the IGIBS Project


The other project that we think will delight Springwatch fans is NatureLocator (#NatureLocator), a project to develop a phone application that will allow you to record biological survey work.

NatureLocator are focusing, in the first instance, at the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner Moth (the wee beastie pictured below) and tracking it’s effect on Horse Chestnut Trees. If you want to find out more about these moths and the damage they cause have a look at the NatureLocator blog where the team have posted images of what a Horse Chestnut Tree should look like and what a moth-attacked tree actually looks like.

Image of a Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner Moth

Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner Moth by Tristram Brelstaff (tristrambrelstaff on Flick)

The exciting news from the NatureLocator team is that the code for their Android and iPhone applications is almost finished and they have recently posted some preview  images of their application. These images give a great sense of how easy the app will be to use: you simply record the damage by taking an image and answering several questions and (using the magic of GPS enabled smart phones) place this on a map. This will allow sophisticated tracking of the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner moth problem but there are endless infestations and natural phenomena that NatureLocator should be able to help track, map and advance understanding of. In fact if you have any ideas about how the app could help with your own area of research then do get in contact with the team via the blog.

Mapping is central to understanding and analysing all kinds of natural phenomena – for instance both Springwatch and the RSPB have both asked volunteers to contribute sightings of signs of spring and of birds before now. Mapping any species in detail and particularly mapping changes in sightings, soil quality, etc. can demonstrate important issues such as climate change, changing breeding habits, new plant diseases.

If you have encountered an inspiring example of the way in which people are using maps and geographic information to understand the natural world then please add a comment beneath and we will feature the best projects/websites here on the blog in a few weeks time!



 June 1, 2011  Posted by at 5:01 pm 15/10 Projects Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Springwatch-ing our nature projects
May 182011

Today we thought we would share the GECO leaflet [PDF] we have been creating for the INSPIRE conference which takes place in Edinburgh next month. We would love you to download that flyer and share it with colleagues, on your website, or wherever you think it might be useful. But you should know that this is no ordinary flyer!

In addition to the adorable wee GECO logo we have loaded the flyer with information about every one of the #jiscGEO projects by using some clever but weird looking images:The QR code for the GeoSciTeach websiteThese odd graphics – which you may have seen on phone books, posters, and various other items – are known as “QR codes” (short for “Quick Response”) or 2D barcodes. The images are actually a way to encode data so that you can scan the code with your smartphone (or webcam) by taking a quick snap. Once captured a QR code reading software on your smartphone can read the attached data – which could be some text, a URL or a redirection to an image or video.

So, Why are QR Codes so Useful?

Well it’s not because of the technology itself (which has been around for some time) but because of the way QR codes allow information to be accessed in the context of a particular location in space or time. The codes can be read on the move using technology in most people’s pockets and thus provide an unusual opportunity for people to interact with the built environment, decorative objects, and with things just glanced in passing (a t-shirt, an advertisement, an information sign).

We are used to seeing (traditional) barcodes on almost every item we buy – even a piece of unpackaged fruit tends to carry one of these ubiquitous stripey stickers now. We are even used to scanning these codes as self-serve machines enter supermarkets and as we start to use webcams to catalogue personal book collections. But barcodes are traditionally functional objects used for stocktaking, tracking, distribution and record keeping.

We are getting increasingly used to carrying around basic GPS on our smartphones and that is enabling us to engage with our locations in new and novel ways – checking the next buses to arrive at nearby stops, posting images with geotags, filtering tweets or adverts that to those relate to a location we are currently standing in. QR codes open this type of localised context up to those phones that do not include GPS, those who aren’t able or do not want to use mobile broadband, and those who want a more fine grained and personalised sense of context and exploration.

GPS  can enable hugely playful experiences – from Geocaching to eccentric personal maps of images, favourite pubs, foraging grounds – and QR codes add all sorts of additional dimensions of the possibility for being creative with location, context and experience.

QR Codes in the Wild: Tales of Things

A particularly interesting example of making use of the idea of using QR codes to add personalised context is the Tales of Things, a website and project (ToTEM) from Brunel University, Edinburgh College of Art, University College London, the University of Dundee, and the University of Salford.

Tales of Things (ToT) takes the idea of an object, part of the “Internet of Things“, and the ideas and history that it embodies and encourages people to turn these personal and emotional memories and experiences and turn them into tangible stories to be shared with others.

Screen Capture of the Tales of Things website

Users print or request QR codes from ToT and use these to label personal items – these might be items at home, art or craft pieces that will go on to be sold, items to be donated to a shop or gallery and, in a recent example, artefacts in a museum. The user then creates their story about that item – it might be a video about their affection for particular piece, a description of fabrication methods, a sound recording of a particularly silly anecdote or important fact about the item.

This is a forum for story telling, interaction with items in specific time(s) and place(s) (items can be geotagged in the process) and experience sharing. What makes this feel magical is the experience of scanning codes others have already created – you can see their experience, add your own, create new comments, etc. A browser in an Oxfam shop finding out about the item they are purchasing; the teenager discovering new things about an item in the local museum; the purchaser of a piece of pottery watching how it has been made, decorated and completed.

A screen shot of a "thing" record on Tales of Things

An example "thing": this is a t-shirt that a researcher on the Tales of Things project is wearing when giving talks and presentations.


This hybrid experience of the virtual world of stories, experiences and rich content blending with the very tangible physical geographic context is a form of augmented reality and it therefore no surprise that more sophisticated AR experiences (for more on which the recent JISC Observatory report from Ben Butchart [PDF] is worth a read) are utilising both QR codes and location information to enable strange new experiences of place.

Our QR codes on the flyer are not quite so ambitious but the new leaflet seemed like the perfect excuse to share the possibilities of these clever strange little barcodes!

 May 18, 2011  Posted by at 5:11 pm 15/10 Projects, Culture, Misc. Tagged with: , , , ,  4 Responses »