Mapping the World

The Mapping the World project last week saw 15 year 10 and 12 students from 4 local schools experience University life as a Geomatics student. Students were introduced to the world of geospatial engineering and learnt about how GIS is used in their everyday life (think snapchat maps), and how to measure height change of land using levelling.  The hi-vis jackets (or wally jackets as we like to call them) proved very popular with the flies on Exhibition Park but not so much with the students wearing them!

Casually mapping the bins on campus…

Using ArcGIS Online and the Survey 123 app students investigated how GIS can help with asset management around Newcastle University campus. Students were given free rein on which aspect of campus management they would like to investigate, projects covered everything from where to store your bike, where are the comfiest seat on campus and disability access routes. After exploring the campus whilst mapping, students concluded by presenting their findings using Story Maps to show off all their hard work. It was great being part of the Futureme programme inspiring the next generation to go into higher education.

A heatmap of bike storage locations and there popularity, one of the many maps produced by the students with their own data.


Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival

Last week myself and a group of us attended the Northumbrian Water Group (NWG) Innovation Festival (#InnovationFestival18), intended to bring people from different areas together to think about and tackle challenges within the water industry (with a focus on NWG). More intriguingly Newcastle University had sponsored one of the 12 sprints, a sprint running all day for the full five days with the idea of developing concepts to solve a problem, with this in particular sprint focused on digital twins (#DigitalTwins). Other sprints included how utilities could better work together to map underground assets and one focused on how can we create a happier and more productive workforce. This was not a small event, with over 2000 people attending and over 500 business involved. In true festival style, the week began with a compulsary participation in a sing-along to ‘The greatest showman’…..

Crowds in main tent (the ‘Thunderdome’) to see guest Alexander Armstrong (of pointless fame).

Great ideas were bounded around, with people involved ranging from those in management positions in NWG, to researchers like myself all who had varied skills and interests, to NWG customers themselves! Ultimately in the Digital Twin sprint where we were most involved, great ideas were devised as to how these could help NWG, from devising a single database system as ‘a single source of truth’ to developing a digital twin for incidents such as bursts as well as one for the whole company for modelling the communication and data flows through personnel. I’m sure across the other 11 sprints more great ideas were involved, with NWG now left with the not so small job of deciding which of these to follow up on!

Work on a #DigitalTwin of a pipe burst which occured a couple of months earlier on the NWG network.

For more information see

Thanks to all the effort of the organisers!

Ps. If you are wondering what the greatest showman is –


Viva success – Polpreecha Chidburee

On Tuesday Polpreecha Chidburee successfully passed his viva for his thesis entitled “Landslide monitoring using mobile device and cloud-based photogrammetry” (subject to minor revisions). Professor Phil Moore (internal) and Professor Jim Chandler (external, Loughborough University) were the two examiners. Polpreecha is now returning to Thailand to take up a lectureship position at Naresuan University. Well done and good luck in the future!

Thesis abstract:

Landslides are one of the most commonly occurring natural disasters that can cause a serious threat to human life and society, in addition to significant economic loss. Investigation and monitoring of landslides are important tasks in geotechnical engineering in order to mitigate the hazards created by such phenomena. However, current geomatics approaches used for precise landslide monitoring are largely inappropriate for initial assessment by an engineer over small areas due to the labour-intensive and costly methods often adopted. Therefore, the development of a cost-effective landslide monitoring system for real-time on-site investigation is essential to aid initial geotechnical interpretation and assessment.

In this research, close-range photogrammetric techniques using imagery from a mobile device camera (e.g. a modern smartphone) were investigated as a low-cost, non-contact monitoring approach to on-site landslide investigation. The developed system was implemented on a mobile platform with cloud computing technology to enable the potential for real-time processing. The system comprised the front-end service of a mobile application controlled by the operator and a back-end service employed for photogrammetric measurement and landslide monitoring analysis. In terms of the back-end service, Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry was implemented to provide fully-automated processing to offer user-friendliness to non-experts. This was integrated with developed functions that were used to enhance the processing performance and deliver appropriate photogrammetric results for assessing landslide deformations. In order to implement this system with a real-time response, the cloud-based system required data transfer using Internet services via a modern 4G/5G network. Furthermore, the relationship between the number of images and image size was investigated to optimise data processing.

The potential of the developed system for monitoring landslides was investigated at two different real-world UK sites, comprising a natural earth-flow landslide and coastal cliff erosion. These investigations demonstrated that the cloud-based photogrammetric measurement system was capable of providing three-dimensional results to sub-decimetre-level accuracy. The results of the initial assessments for on-site investigation could be effectively presented on the mobile device through visualisation and/or statistical quantification of the landslide changes at a local-scale.

The Future of Cultural Heritage: Free Seminar

Corbridge Roman Town

As part of Newcastle University’s ‘Inspired by’ Great Exhibition of the North programme, Dr Maria-Valasia Peppa from the School of Engineering and NEOlab, will be discussing some of her work investigating changes in our cultural heritage.

Cultural heritage has large historical, social, and anthropological values and is an important enabler of sustainable development. Join researchers at Newcastle University in exploring how technologies, such as remote sensing and 3D printing, are used to safeguard the world’s cultural heritage for future generations.

The event is free to attend, however you need to register here.

The event is on the 26th July at 1 Science Square, and will start at 7pm.

Hope to see you there!

Geographical spread of teams relegated from the Premiership

Once again a discussion at the coffee break posed an interesting question. Is this the closest the relegated teams have been to each other in the history of the Premier league. Some quick googling suggested it probably wasn’t and 2011-12 would be the closest with the 3 relegated clubs being Bolton Wanderers,Blackburn Rovers and Wolves. And much like last time I wasn’t content with guesswork and wanted to try and calculate this properly.

As a Norwich City fan relegation is something I've grown very used to
As a Norwich City fan relegation is something I’ve grown very used to

From the previous blog post I had the locations for all of the football league grounds ( one caveat is that i haven’t considered that the clubs may have played at a different ground [although I did use Selhurst Park for Wimbledon and not Milton Keynes ) .  so it was a very simple piece of analysis where i used PostGIS to calculate the distance between each of the relegated clubs and summed the value together per year.

From the results below you can see that the guess was correct and 2011-12 did have the shortest distance with 16-17 coming second.

Year Teams Distance
2011-12 Bolton Wanderers-Blackburn Rovers-Wolverhampton Wanderers 259.08Km
2016-17 Middlesbrough-Sunderland-Hull City 292.89Km
2000-01 Manchester City-Coventry City-Bradford City 322.44Km
2003-04 Leicester City-Leeds United-Wolverhampton Wanderers 336.20Km
2007-08 Reading-Birmingham City-Derby County 357.57Km
2001-02 Ipswich Town-Derby County-Leicester City 407.20Km
1996-97 Sunderland-Middlesbrough-Nottingham Forest 441.72Km
1993-94 Sheffield United-Oldham Athletic-Swindon Town 472.91Km
2006-07 Sheffield United-Charlton Athletic-Watford 473.37Km
1999-2000 Wimbledon-Sheffield Wednesday-Watford 488.97Km
2004-05 Crystal Palace-Norwich City-Southampton 539.73Km
2005-06 Birmingham City-West Bromwich Albion-Sunderland 550.98Km
1995-96 Manchester City-Queens Park Rangers-Bolton Wanderers 560.10Km
2008-09 Newcastle United-Middlesbrough-West Bromwich Albion 562.12Km
2012-13 Wigan Athletic-Reading-Queens Park Rangers 595.27Km
1998-99 Charlton Athletic-Blackburn Rovers-Nottingham Forest 608.68Km
1997-98 Bolton Wanderers-Barnsley-Crystal Palace 622.42Km
2014-15 Hull City-Burnley-Queens Park Rangers 659.24Km
2010-11 Birmingham City-Blackpool-West Ham United 663.29Km
2013-14 Norwich City-Fulham-Cardiff City 707.28Km
1992-93 Crystal Palace-Middlesbrough-Nottingham Forest 730.06Km
2009-10 Burnley-Hull City-Portsmouth 796.63Km
2015-16 Aston Villa-Norwich City-Newcastle United 817.20Km
1994-95 Crystal Palace-Norwich City-Leicester City-Ipswich Town 830.88Km
2002-03 West Ham United-West Bromwich Albion-Sunderland 833.77Km

Code Sprint scholarship – Kenya

Kaizer Moreri, CEG PhD student from Botswana, researching aspects of Volunteered Geographic Information in improving Land Administration Systems, was awarded a full travel scholarship to contribute to a ‘code sprint’ in Kenya this week. Second from left in the attached photo, Kaizer was invited along with 25 others from Europe and Africa to develop and contribute code to enhance the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) – a pro-poor, gender responsive and participatory land information system developed by the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN). This intensive four day workshop was held at the Regional Centre for Mapping and Rural Development (RCMRD), a pan African institution located in Nairobi, and tweets ( report that this was an exciting event.

Kenya Code Sprint - Kaizer Moreri

DREAM PhD Studentships 2017

We are now looking for applications for our available fully funded PhD studentships with the DREAM CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training). DREAM, Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical Methods, is a partnership between four leading universities based within the UK, Cranfield, Newcastle, Cambridge and Birmingham, and is now into its 3rd year. The CDT focuses on the use of big data to solve environmental risks, with topics covering a wide field of research. All PhD students have a wealth of training opportunities available to them as well as regular networking opportunities with those based at the other partner universities.

Newcastle are looking for applicants interested in any of the PhD’s listed below, with anyone interested asked to contact Dr Stuart Barr.

  • Massive multi-agent simulation of environmental risks to interdependent infrastructure
  • Environmental risks to global resource flows
  • High resolution modelling of real-world floods – models, forecasts and uncertainties
  • Extreme rainfall forecasting: new statistical simulation and Big Data methods for making sense of rainfall radar and rain gauges
  • Capturing Tsunamis and Storm Surges: Coupling the Human and Natural Systems through Games Technology
  • Earth observation for UK-wide flood infrastructure risk management
  • Preserving Privacy for Urban Data in the Internet of Things
  • Big data real-time online analysis of urban flooding impact on traffic flows
  • Improving decision making in hazard situations using geovisualisation
  • Can citizen science observations improve real-time flood risk assessment – bringing the crowd to the cloud?

More information on these PhD’s are available on the DREAM website, where you can also find more details on the CDT and how to apply.

A flyer is also available.

Football Travel – the cost of TV fixture changes

In recent years, television broadcasters have pumped more and more money into the football industry, resulting in Premier League clubs in particular receiving both more TV money and more TV coverage. This extra coverage, however, has come at a cost to the fan on the terrace. There are more and more instances of last-minute fixture alterations being made to accommodate televised games. These last-minute changes often result in fans having to rebook travel plans, getting home even later, or in some cases staying overnight in a hotel. I personally remember having to rebook trains twice, and book and subsequently cancel accommodation (losing my deposit) as an Aston Villa vs Norwich City game had its kick-off time changed twice because of TV.


In previous work we have investigated the travel times of football fans and how they could be affected by fixture changes. This looked at the additional time and difficult faced by travelling supporters but did not consider the cost of these changes. Therefore in this piece of work we wanted to determine which fixture changes would result in the biggest cost increase for a fan travelling to the game by public transport. For this we used an API from British Rail Fares Queries ( ) which allowed us to determine the both the cheapest possible advance tickets and the cheapest possible ticket that a fan could buy on the day. As in the previous work, the Google Travel API ( was used to determine the amount of time travelling and whether a fan would have to stay overnight either the night before or after a match.

As we didn’t want to just consider the cost of new rail tickets but the cost of having to potentially spend more leisure time travelling to and from the game due to the fixture change, we wanted to apply a “cost” to the fan for each extra minute spent travelling. The Department for Transport determined a value of £8 per hour for a non-work related journey using their ‘Value of Time method ( consequently applied this cost to the time a fan would spend travelling to and from the game to give an approximate monetary value.

Hartlepool fans on their yearly fancy dress trip

Finally, if the fixture meant a fan would have to stay overnight we added an extra £50 to the journey cost to represent an approximate value of a night in a cheap hotel. Whilst all of these costs make assumptions (that the supporter is diligent enough to buy the cheapest available Advance ticket to travel to the match when they are initially released, that the rearranged game means the purchase of an Off-peak ticket rather than another Advance ticket, that they will not be able to stay with friends) they are a first attempt at capturing the extra personal cost of these TV fixture moves.

The results of this piece of analysis are available here:
Full Results

With the top 10 biggest cost increases shown below.

It’s a good job that no-one chose to televise Bournemouth vs Sunderland…


Home Team Away Team Kickoff Time Total Cost Hotel needed New Travel Time (hours) 3 o’clock kickoff Travel Time (hours) Rail Tickets Cost Extra cost of fixture move 3 o’clock cost Percentage Increase
Bournemouth Sunderland 17:30:00 £490.83 1 20.89 Hours 13.64 Hours £273.70 £277.72 £213.11 230.32%
Sunderland Bournemouth 16:00:00 £474.55 1 18.86 Hours 13.71 Hours £273.70 £260.90 £213.65 222.12%
Middlesbrough Bournemouth 16:00:00 £464.10 1 18.46 Hours 13.10 Hours £266.40 £259.14 £204.96 226.43%
Middlesbrough Bournemouth 17:30:00 £462.64 1 18.28 Hours 13.10 Hours £266.40 £257.68 £204.96 225.72%
Hull City Bournemouth 13:00:00 £444.00 1 19.94 Hours 12.39 Hours £234.50 £257.30 £186.70 237.81%
Sunderland Bournemouth 17:30:00 £470.70 1 18.37 Hours 13.71 Hours £273.70 £257.05 £213.65 220.31%
Bournemouth Sunderland 16:00:00 £463.90 1 17.53 Hours 13.64 Hours £273.70 £250.80 £213.11 217.68%
Southampton Sunderland 17:30:00 £438.28 1 16.81 Hours 12.78 Hours £253.80 £240.07 £198.22 221.11%
Sunderland Southampton 17:30:00 £444.95 1 17.64 Hours 13.70 Hours £253.80 £239.37 £205.58 216.44%
Southampton Sunderland 16:00:00 £437.08 1 16.66 Hours 12.78 Hours £253.80 £238.87 £198.22 220.51%

PhD opportunities – DREAM

We have funding available for a number of PhD’s in the area of big data, risk and environmental analysis, with a start date no later than March 2017. The funding is available through the DREAM CDT (, offering students access to world leading research teams and a large selection of training and development opportunities. This funding comes with the freedom to devise your very own reaserch project with the aid of experts from a range of fields who will help guide and support you from the developemnt of the project to the completion of the PhD.

For more information on taking up a PhD with the DREAM CDT, please contact Stuart Barr (


4 Professorial appointments in Spatial Analytics and Modelling

Four new professorial appointments are now being advertised at Newcastle University on the theme of Spatial Analytics and Modelling (SAM). These fall across four areas:

G735 – Professor of Urban Data Analysis

G736 – Professor of Geographical Analysis

G737 – Professor of Spatial Statistics

G738 – Professor of Geospatial Systems Engineering

Applications for these appointment close on the 28th November.