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
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 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 »
Dec 022010
"My dream is that every American  student, at the end of every
block of  instruction in every conceivable subject, can say
proudly and  knowledgeably, I have done the map.
Because that means they know who they are, where they are,
and how to get where they want to go."Walter A. McDougall

GECO (and yes I know, that’s not how you spell the friendly little lizard – but hey! there s only so many tortured acronyms you can cope with – its the best I could come up with and its not too far off!!)

Anyhow, GECO (our project, not the misspelled lizard or one of many geology survey firms – try Googling ‘GECO’ for fun!), is about making ‘geo stuff’ more widely visible to it’s core audience – the UK Higher and Further Education community.

I confess that I have some concerns over the use of the term ‘community’ as it strikes me as being overworked and a shorthand way of saying you are not entirely sure who specifcally you are trying to target. Indeed, without veering towards Thatcheresque pronouncements along the lines of  ‘there’s no such thing as community’ I do think its fair to say there is no single ‘community’ – there are lots of them!! Not surprising really as UK HFE (blasted abbreviations/acronyms again) is a variegated environment, socially, culturally and institutionally. That’s before you consider discipline specific idiosyncrasies and fetishes…

So, if variety is the spice of life, what we want from GECO is a curry that’s palatable to as broad a culinary audience as possible (thats perhaps an unfortunate metaphor as I now have images of diced lizard in tikka masala).

GECOs initial focus will be to work with the JISC funded geospatial projects (funded under JISC Call 15/10, geospatial strand), to esnure that there is some cross-fertilisation and synergy achevied or at least attempted – a mild curry if you will.

Its unlikely, given that the rationale and impetus behind the funding call was to spur the uptake and use of geospatial resources in ‘non-traditional’ domains – yes, geographers stand back, others have an interest in space too!, that it will be easy to foster a ready sense of ‘community’ across the (presumed) disparate projects but perhaps everyone likes curry these days.

However, we need to await the outcomes of the funding decisions to decide just how a (hopefully) eclectic mix of projects can assist in bootstrapping the larger aspirations of GECO i.e. to make geography matter across as broad a user and discipline base as possible.

 December 2, 2010  Posted by at 12:55 pm INSPIRE, Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Wider Benefits to Sector & Achievements for Host Institution
Dec 012010

The primary purpose of GECO is to enable and help others be more aware of geospatial resources available to them – in the UK Higher and Further Education space that’s quite a lot of things…for example (this is not a comprehensive list so please post a comment to help fill out my own knowledge gaps!):

The screenshots below point to a wealth of data and services available to the community – ultimately Id like to mind-map these into a completer picture that can act as a synopsis of what is currently available.

Note that all the below are primarily aimed at a higher and further education market and have their origins in that sector – there are of course alternate universes of other geospatial tools and services out there (Google earth/maps; Yahoo; OVI; Bing; Open Street Map; OS OpenData;; etc etc etc (as Yul Brenner might have said))…





Census Portal

Census Portal














Screenshot of UKBORDERS



 December 1, 2010  Posted by at 3:31 pm INSPIRE, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , ,  4 Responses »
Nov 302010

Welcome to GECO, the Geospatial Enablement and Community Outreach blog.

Note: this is a draft of a proposal that is taking shape. Please use tag #jiscGECO to comment…

Aims, Objectives and Final Output from GECO

The overarching purpose of GECO is to foster a community(ies) of users of geospatial resources (data, services, support). Geospatial, taken in its broadest sense underpins a vast array of academic endeavour – geography represents a fundamental organising axis for information. Space (and time) are fundamental aspects of most resources and activities and the purpose of GECO is to help:

  • foster self-help within identifiable communities of interest that emerge form the recent JISC 15/10 funding call (in the Call itself this is referred to as ‘Community Synthesis’;
  • increase the use of geospatial tools, infrastructure (data and services) and information for the wider benefit of the teaching, learning and research communities;
  • to collate exemplars of use and to establish a trajectory for the future embedding of geospatial resources within research, teaching and learning landscapes;
  • to identify and promote best practice (such as standards, interoperability, machine interfaces) and to provide a means for knowledge transfer from specialist to less spatially literate users and domains;
  • assist with the maturation of the UK academic Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and ensure
    SDIs Visual Summary

    Graphical depiction of what an SDI is.

    that location (space/geography) is championed across sectoral domains.

  • Promote the JISC Geospatial Working Group’s (GWG) Vision for geospatial resources in UK higher and further education.
  • Champion awareness raising of INSPIRE (summary 2 pager here), ensuring that the sector is cognisant of the obligations and opportunities that this gives rise to.
  • Promote good data management principles, including data curation and stewardship ensuring transparency and reuse where practicable.

At the conclusion of the project we anticipate:

  1. The establishment of a nexus of (largely) self-sustaining communities that exploit geospatial information within a particular domain.
  2. Greater awareness of existing JISC investment in geospatial resources and a higher degree of awareness of key policy areas such as INSPIRE.
  3. Additional services and data with exemplar usage and best practice guidance.
 November 30, 2010  Posted by at 11:31 am INSPIRE, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , ,  1 Response »