Feb 212012

We are very excited to announce that bookings are now open for the next JISC GECO workshop!

“Geospatial” in the  Cultural Heritage domain, past, present and future (#geocult) , taking place on Wednesday 7th March 2012 in London,  will be an opportunity to explore how digitised cultural heritage content can be exploited through geographical approaches and the types of tools and techniques that can be used with geo-referenced/geotagged content.

Issues we are keen to discuss include selection of maps/materials, issues of accuracy and precision, staff and technical requirements, sustainability, licensing.

The event will take place at Maughan Library, Chancery Lane, part of Kings College London. We are most grateful to the lovely people at the KCL Centre for e-Research for securing us this super location.

Library Entrance by Flickr User maccath / Katy Ereira

Library Entrance by Flickr User maccath / Katy Ereira

We are currently confirming the last few speakers and titles for talks so will post something here on the blog once the programme is finalised.

We already have a great draft schedule and some fantastic speakers confirmed so this promises to be a fascinating and stimulating day of talks and breakout sessions.

As we are sharing details of this event at pretty short notice we would be particularly grateful if you could book your place as soon as possible and please do tell your colleagues and friends who may be interested!

Book your free place now via our Eventbrite page:  http://geocult.eventbrite.com/

If you would like to propose any additional talks or ask any questions about the event please email the JISC GECO team via:  edina@ed.ac.uk.

 February 21, 2012  Posted by at 4:27 pm Events, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Upcoming Event: “Geospatial” in the Cultural Heritage domain, past, present and future
Jan 092012

A Very Happy New Year from all at the JISC GECO project!

The JISC geo projects have all presented their final products to the world at the end of 2011 and we are looking forward to seeing how those tools and resources are used by the community throughout 2012 – and you have a favourite project, a great example of how you are using one of the products created or ideas for how they should be developed we’d love to hear from you.

We expect 2012 to be an exciting year for all things geo – it is after all the centenary of the Scott Expedition to the South Pole and the year in which the London Olympics will create a whole new excuse for geospatial tie-ins and visualisations!  The JISC GECO team will be blogging about geo and INSPIRE throughout the year and we will also be running several events this spring beginning, kicking off with a geo culture event in late February. If you are interested in taking part please drop us an email or watch out for further news here on the blog.

As ever we welcome guest posts, particularly from UK Further and Higher Education geo community, and your suggestions for posts or events that should be mentioned here.  In the meantime here is something sparkly to properly celebrate the fact that it’s a brand new year!

YouTube Preview Image


 January 9, 2012  Posted by at 11:39 am Misc. Comments Off on Happy New Year from JISC GECO!
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: http://code.google.com/p/jiscgeo/wiki/ProgrammeMeetingAgenda

To register for this event please use the following link (Day 1 is the ‘Show and Tell’ Day described above): https://www.eventsforce.net/jisc/147/home

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 252011

Having backed up my computer I recently wrote a post of gamification, and then my computer unhelpfully died on me. Since then, the project I identified as the most obvious candidate for gamification, has launched a website that includes gamification (did they read my mind?). By adding a top 5 league table to the side of their submissions validation website, some users will find the same motivation as games and will help out more in order to get their rank up against friends or the top users.

Your project probably can’t be gamified. I don’t think that’s the case. Gamification doesn’t have to be through use of a league table or scores. The goal for the location phone app, 4square, is often seen as ‘checking-in’ to a venue more than anyone else to become ‘mayor’. But there are also a long list of badges(achievements) that you can be awarded. Could your users get a badge for their first use of the app, a medal when you notice they’ve added amazing metadata, or a gold star for discovering tghe use for a certain feature?

Leaf Watch league tableSo we’ve worked out your project can be gamified, but it probably shouldn’t be. Nature Locator already identified problems when you gamify. Perhaps the only ways to gamify were too stretch and it would be uncomftable implementing it into your project. But it’s still good to have thought about how you could do it. Even without gamifying the system you can still reward people. If you noticed an action would get an extra special badge, because it was an uncommon task or long/complex to do then you could set a message on the final page. Change “The data was successfully saved to the database.” to “Thanks for doing all that! We’ve save the data and it’s going to be a great help for people finding related information.“. You might not have an “employee of the month” notice board, but you can notice when people have done some good work. Thank/congratulate them directly or spread (good) rumors in the coffee room about who’s been your best user this week.

About that employee of the month postition. They wouldn’t work if you only told the employee, they need be posted on a noticeboard or where other people will see and get interested to work harder themselves. Social media is a great tool for making this happen. You can even skip the gamification and make people share what they have done using social media. With a tiny bit of code inserted into your system you can add buttons for users to share on Facebook or Twitter the page they are on. Don’t just make them a share link to your homepage, provide/suggest messages for the user such as “I just found details on ancient Athens using the the Pelgaious tool. example.com/athens.html” or “I’ve submitted an artifact and linked it to a location. example.com/artifacts/123”. If it’s one or two clicks away it can be fun to share what you’re doing and a lot easier than getting round to recommending the tool to friends yourself. The Pelagios team have been using Twitter well and I’ve recently started seeing tweets that link to precise pages in a fun way, such as this tweet: “Hello! I’m ancient Thera: http://tinyurl.com/3oc8rod. Check me out in books http://tinyurl.com/3j5lhqk and databases http://tinyurl.com/3wyv7v6“.

How do you create buttons for users to share? It’s really simple, and the two most popular social networking sites have tools to help you. For Twitter use the tweet button tool an investigate the options, such as the tweet text. For Facebook I’ve realised my instructions require you to set up a Facebook app. So it requires a bit more work, but there are clear instructions to the whole process, and then lots you can do with it.

This blog post, as do all the posts on GECO, now ends with some example tweet/share links for a number of sites. Do try it out so you know how they work. You will be prompted to log in to the relevant site if you aren’t already, and you will always be asked to accect/confirm before it posts the message in your name. Unfortunately the WordPress blog system stops me adding a one-off example of how you can change the text that is posted to the site.

 October 25, 2011  Posted by at 3:11 pm Misc. Comments Off on Gamification is not for you
Sep 292011

We have four fantastic – and free! – events coming up in the next couple of months – we’ll be telling you more about these in individual posts but we wanted to let you put these in your diary, book your place, and get involved!

First up is the INSPIRE for Social Sciences workshop at the UK Data Archive on Friday 7th October 2011 in Essex led by the U.Geo project, which has been looking at the geospatial potential of UKDA survey data.  The workshop focuses on what the European INSPIRE directive, particularly Annex III (which addresses spatial data sets),  means for social science research, funders and for the national data strategy. This will be a real opportunity to learn about the practical requirements and opportunities for research and collaboration associated with INSPIRE and highlights will include contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Swedish National Data Service, Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research and from GECO’s very own James Reid.

You can see the full programme on the UKDA website and the booking form is here.  If you want to find out a bit more about INSPIRE in general the EDINA’s The INSPIRE Directive – A Brief Overview [pdf] is a good place to start and there is a huge amount of information on the official INSPIRE Directive website.

Image of a Chimney Stack

"Chimney Stack" by Flickr user gerry.scappaticci

Next up, on Thursday 13th October 2011, will be the Green Energy Tech Event (#e3vis), arranged by the STEEV project, which will take place at the very new Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change. The event focuses on tools, techniques and current research in the area of green energy technology, carbon emissions and the built environment. It promises to be a fascinating event with highlights including talks on modelling and mapping energy efficiency data, modelling energy use data for social housing landlords, heat mapping technologies and usage, emissions assessment tools, and listed buildings and energy efficiency.

View the full programme and book your place here and find out more about the Spatio Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisation tool being created by the project in this contextual post by researcher Simon Lannon,  of the Welsh School of Architecture.

Image of DaffodilsOur next event, just being finalised, is a joint NatureLocator & IGIBS Event ( final title TBC but the hashtag will be #gecoenv) will take place on Friday 11th November 2011 at the Welsh Assembly Government buildings in Cardiff. The event will be focusing on the use and sharing of environmental data, particularly INSPIRE compliant data, and will be of particular relevance for Welsh environment researchers, policy makers, and those in the Welsh Geospatial Information (GI) community. The programme and event booking form will be live shortly (we’ll keep you posted) but email edina@ed.ac.uk if you would like to register your interest or book your place right away.

Finally JISC have just announced the date for the JISC Geospatial Product Show & Tell which will take place on Monday 28th November 2011 in London at Ravensborough College in London (next to the Millennium Dome). Anyone with an @ed.ac.uk email address is welcome along (and of course any JISC Geo project partners who may have an unexpected email address!). A full announcement will follow but bookings are already open here.

We hope you can join us for all/some/one of these events but we will be blogging and tweeting at all of them so if you are not able to make it along in person do keep an eye on this website for live notes, write-ups, slides etc.

As you can see the JISC Geo projects are all starting to roll out fantastic tools, data and findings hence the large number of events this autumn however we will be running further events (currently in the planning stages) to showcase other areas of geo work later this year and/or in early 2012 so do look out for announcements about those as they’re finalised.

 September 29, 2011  Posted by at 11:00 am Events, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Events Coming Up – INSPIRE, the Welsh Environment, Green Energy Tech and the JISC Geospatial Product Show & Tell!
Sep 222011

Earlier this month OpenStreetMap(OSM) had it’s annual conference titled State of the Map in Denver, Colorado. To allow for adapting to the mile-high altitude (and perhaps the pre-conf pub trip the night before), the conference got off to a gentle but steady start. Richard Weait gave a keynote titled “Be a Mapper” on the topic of being more than just contributors, consumers, or alayisers of the rich data. We were encouraged to be a part of the community on which OpenStreetMap has grown and by which it is powered. Richard told how attending a local OSM meetup, or organising one, can be really beneficial to everyone who gets involved. Later in the day he chaired a panel “Meet the Mappers” where we got a chance to question example mappers who had a spectrum of local activitiy. The keynote was along similar lines of Professor Muki Haklay’s talk at the European State of the Map in July. Muki told the academic delegates to communicate with the general community and local users. Communinity participation being very important to do before, and while, you perform a study involving data, or teach your students how to add to the interconnected map data.

Other talks on Friday revolved around new apps and products making use of OpenStreetMap data, with various monetization plans, something everyone’s getting used to. After a day that felt more like a reunion than a conference, we went and continued strengthening the community by watching a baseball game. The home team, Colorado Rockies, may have lost, but it was a good social event with a welcome to the conference delegates displayed on the stadium’s screen, and I sat in the row of blue seats exactly a mile above sea level (though my GPS disagreed). View from the mile high seats in the baseball stadium.

Saturday begun with Steve Coast, the OSM founder, having much to say. He was instructed to hurry-up, but still wanted to spend a lot of time giving a good mention to the G3 research on Potlatch usability. Talking to Steve, he doesn’t seem to understand the scary images he used in his slides aren’t actually the eye tracking equipment that gets used. On sunday, an informal meeting to discuss redesigning the OSM website again mentioned Peter Webber and Muki Haklay and the usefulness of statistics and evaluations from their equipment.

Peter Batty gave theother keynote, and had some wondeful slides on OSM’s past present and future. In a talk about the changes in Japan Goolge Maps was thanked for being useful as a historical map. Despite the usual and expected visa troubles, 7 out of the 8 scholors funded by HOT made it to the conference and presented talks from: Tunisia, India, Georgia, Colombia, Haiti, Philippines, and Argentina.

Philippe Rieffel provoked thought with his work designing a map for children using quotes such as “why is this road yellow on the map when I can see it is grey?”.

The programme of talks is available on the OSM wiki. I think all have audio & slide recordings, some have videos which include the speaker(s). Do have a listen to some, but it’s much more fun to come to the conference next year and be part of the community.

 September 22, 2011  Posted by at 9:04 am Misc. Comments Off on State of the Map 2011
Sep 122011

This is a short post to remind you that the UK Data Archive / JISC GECO INSPIRE for Social Sciences event will be taking place on Friday 7th October in Essex is now available for booking!

You can find the full information on the event page. The programmme includes a fantastic line up of speakers from academic, research council and data provider backgrounds including the ESRC, the UK Data Archive, EDINA, the Swedish National Data Service, the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, and NERC.

The event is organised by U.Geo and JISC GECO. You can read more about U.Geo, and their work to unlock the geo potential of national survey data, on their blog: geoukda.wordpress.com/

 September 12, 2011  Posted by at 9:44 am Events, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on INSPIRE for Social Sciences Event on 7th October Open for Bookings
Aug 302011

Last week saw the GECO team attending and co-organising an Open Mapping Workshop with the DevCSI team. Addy Pope of GoGeo was one of our speakers on the day and has kindly written us this guest post about the event and some of the useful resources related to the presentations and discussions on the day. For more information on the event you can also see our LiveBlog of the day, we will also be adding audio and images from the day in the coming weeks.

The DevCSI Open mapping workshop was held in Glasgow on the 24th August 2011.  The program was:

  • Introduction to OpenStreetMap – Bob Kerr (OSM)
  • Open Source GIS and OpenLayers – Addy Pope (EDINA)
  • Getting started with PostGIS/Postgres – Lasma Siestone (EDINA)

This post aims to highlight the resources that were introduced and discussed during the workshop rather than chronicle the workshop itself.

Getting Started With OSM
Basic editing in OSM can be done through the OSM web interface.  Just create an account and then sign in. The web editor runs Potlach 2 which is shown really intuitive to use.

For more advanced editing, perhaps where you want to compare different satellite images or where you with to do bulk edits, you may want to have a look at JOSM.  JOSM is a Java based desktop editor which has a lots of useful resources that are not available in simple online editors such as Potlach2.  In addition, there is a stack of videos and tutorials to help you get started with JSOM.

Open Source GIS and Openlayers

GIS was once the the preserve of large software companies and the cost of licences made it difficult for non-gis professionals to access GIS tools.  However, over the past 5 years open source GIS tools have emerged and are now competing with proprietary GIS software in terms of usability and functionality.  This has allowed “Joe Public” to create custom maps and publish spatial data.

QGIS – QGIS is a free open source desktop GIS. While there are many other open source GIS’s out there, QGIS is packed with features, easy to use and well documented.  The other nice thing about QGIS is that there are a host of python plugins written by the QGIS user community that you can access and use. These allow you to do some neat things including:

  • DXF2SHP – convert dxf files to shapefiles
  • Delimited Text file import
  • Ordnance Survey translator – transforms OS GML to shapefile
  • fTools – Vector data management toolkit
  • PostGPS – load and save GPX files from your GPS

The plugin that was demoed at the workshop was the OGR2Layer tool. This allows you to load spatial data into QGIS and add the data to a Web Mapping Service (WMS) from OSM.  The tool outputs the OpenLayers code that you need to embed in your website to create an interactive, map.  The configuration options may be quite simple and limited, but they do give you a good start point from which you can easily build more complex, customised map inserts. A screenshot example (sadly not interactive) of the OGR2Layer output is shown below.

OGR2Layer output

and here is some of the code that the tool produces:

var map, selectsControls
function init(){
var option = {
projection: new OpenLayers.Projection(“EPSG:900913”),
displayProjection: new OpenLayers.Projection(“EPSG:4326”)
map = new OpenLayers.Map(‘map’, option);
olosma = new OpenLayers.Layer.OSM(“OpenStreetMap Osmarender”, “http://tah.openstreetmap.org/Tiles/tile/${z}/${x}/${y}.png”);
var ls= new OpenLayers.Control.LayerSwitcher();
map.addControl(new OpenLayers.Control.Attribution());
var ForestSOTM2_template = {
strokeColor: “#b9b9b9”,
strokeOpacity: 1,
strokeWidth: 0.26,
fillColor: “#00aa7f”,
fillOpacity: 1
var ForestSOTM2_style = new OpenLayers.Style(ForestSOTM2_template)
function onPopupCloseForestSOTM2(evt) {
function onFeatureSelectForestSOTM2(feature){
selectedFeature = feature;
tableForestSOTM2=”<html><meta http-equiv=’Content-Type’ content=’text/html; charset=UTF-8′><body><table><tr><td><b>NAME:</b></td><td><i>”+feature.attributes.NAME+”</i></td></tr></table></body></html>”;
popup = new OpenLayers.Popup.FramedCloud(“chicken”,
new OpenLayers.Size(1000,500),
feature.popup = popup;
function onFeatureUnselectForestSOTM2(feature) {
feature.popup = null;

Openlayers by Erik Hazzard

If you want to find out more about OpenLayers then I would suggest reading OpenLayers 2.1.0 by Erik Hazzard. This book covers the basics but has enough detail to be useful for experienced users.



Another useful feature of QGIS is that you can stream a WMS into it so you always have a basemap to give your data some context.  I wont explain this here, if you wish to read about doing this then please read the post on the GoGeo blog.



The final session of the day looked at PostGIS and Postgres. Used in tandem, these packages have powerful spatial capabilities but the barrier to use is often perceived to be quite high can put some off using them. The presentation should be available through the GECO blog soon but you might want to look at the following books:

That should be enough to get started with. I will try to add more links to useful resources as i find them.  In the meantime, you could search through the thousands of links in GoGeo. If you think there is a link that compliments this thread, please add a comment below including the link and a wee sentence or two about the resource it relates to and why you find it useful.

 August 30, 2011  Posted by at 2:34 pm Events, Guest Posts, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Guest Post: Notes and Useful Links from the DevCSI / GECO Open Mapping Workshop
Aug 252011

Today we will be liveblogging the DevCSI/GECO Open Mapping Workshop which is taking place at the CCA in Glasgow. At the moment we are just setting up for the first session which will be on OpenStreetMap.

Introduction – Mahendra Mahey, DevCSI

Mahendra is introducing the DevSCI project, funded by JISC, which focuses on creating an ecosystem for developers to encourage innovation. My connection to today’s event is through Jo Walsh, she sits on our steering committee and one of the requirements of being on our steering committee is that you arrange an event and this event today is Jo’s event although unfortunately she is off sick today.

We are very much about informal communities and events. To share experience and network and share ideas. My particular focus is developers in academia but it’s a very open and informal space – we have commercial developers and other interested people of all kind. If you have any ideas for events or meet ups then I’m really open to hearing about those. We are also looking for some case studies around how to get the best out of developers in academia and routes to stimulate innovation.

We run lots of hack days, usually over two days with accomodation nearby, to stimulate new ideas some of which go on to be funded projects.

Finally if you are along for the next few days, at the OpenStreetMap State of the Map Scotland event we’ll be in a larger space with this room, the Electron Club, in use for those who want to hack and developer.

Editing and re-using OpenStreetmap – Bob Kerr

OpenStreetMap is like Wikipedia for maps. Anyone can edit it. That usually scares folk as you could put a motorway right through George Square and ruin Brad Pitt’s zombie movie! But it’s all volunteer generated, all created by the community. And we’ve done a lot of mapping. We’ve actually completed Edinburgh and have compared it to the Council’s list of street names and we’re actually more accurate than the Ordnance Survey data on street names! Continue reading »

 August 25, 2011  Posted by at 9:01 am Events, Misc. Tagged with:  3 Responses »