ITRC @Newcastle – autumn 2015

As a research group a small number of us have been involved in the ITRC project over the past five years, namely Stuart Barr and Dave Alderson. Craig Robson joined the ITRC ranks in January, pausing his PhD work to help complete the final phase of the research required by autumn 2015. ITRC (Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium) has been investigating the future of the UK’s national scale infrastructure with regards to how it must develop to meet ever changing demands and how climate change amoungst other factors will affect the resilience of those networks we rely on.

Our role in the project has centered around the development of the tools which would allow the five year project to be completed and included, but was not limited to, the development of the central database for all data for the project, and the support tools which would enable the analysis to be undertaken and results reported. It is on this later point where most of the past 6 months have been spent; developing a reporting tool for the presentation of the results from the long-term infrastructure planning aspect of the project.

The developed reporting tool allows users to view results from the each infrastructure sector (e.g. transport or waster supply), or view cross sector results, a set of similar metrics computed for each sector allowing for direct comparisons between them on there performance. For each sector a range of model outputs can be viewed from the level of emissions produced, to the running costs per year to the cumulative capital investment required. Results are shown not only at the regional level, but where possible at the sub-national level through the government office regions for example where the models output data at this granularity. This allows the tool to show data not just in charts, but also through maps, allowing new insights to be learned which may not be identified through non-spatial results. More detail on the tool, along with images and the like will be provided in a specific post at a later date, but for now a small selection of images below exemplify the tool.

Drawing1

With the end of the project looming near an event was organised at the ICE in London on the 15th October where the key results and impacts from the project could be disseminated to a wider audience with those key members behind the research all being present to answer questions and discuss their work. At the event we were available to demo the reporting tool and discuss the complexities behind the database for those interested, while a set of slides were used to give a overview of our work. More generally two videos (below) were produced giving an overview of the project and the one on the resilience of the UK’s national infrastructure.

Summer school in Obergurgl

 

glaciers

glaciers

Geodetic ride

Geodetic ride

An amazing summer school took place last week in Obergurgl, Austria (http://www.uibk.ac.at/geographie/summerschool/). The focus was to investigate the various close range photogrammetry remote sensing techniques for alpine terrain research. Such an international environment made the atmosphere very interesting. I met other researchers from Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland and even Equador!!! Professors in remote sensing and photogrammetry from Germany and Italy insipred us with their talks.

The days were very busy with data collection in the alps and data processing, however the fieldwork gave us the opportunity to explore the beautiful mountains and refresh our minds. The best part of course was the social events with tasty austrian beers. The weather was incredibly warm, even the locals became crazy in such a warm environment; I couldn’t believe that Austrian drivers use the horn, this is a Greek habit!

The local newspaper reported the event on their website: http://www.tt.com/panorama/katastrophe/10251350-91/katastrophen-besser-lesen-lernen.csp

The organiser Dr. Martin Rutzinger successfully managed to create a great event and make everybody happy.
The 2nd attached picture shows how engineering is combined with nature. 🙂

Maria Valasia Peppa

Geospatial in Budapest

The central location of Vienna has allowed me to engage with some more people in the past few weeks. I and the other two members of the International Cartographic Association Statutes Committee, Ferjan Ormeling (Netherlands) and Bengt Rystedt (Sweden) met here a couple of weeks ago to discuss proposals for the ICA General Assembly in August. We were joined by my host here, ICA President Georg Gartner, and the Secretary-General Laszlo Zentai from nearby Budapest. Ferjan, Bengt and myself also form half of the Working Group on International Map Year (http://mapyear.org) and were able to make some further plans for this UN endorsed event. My ICA work in helping organise our Commission workshop in Curitiba in August continues from afar.

I spent a couple of days in Budapest this week – giving a seminar on VGI at the Eotvos Lorand University Department of Cartography & Geoinformation (a lively group of half a dozen staff and plenty students). It was good to meet again with Laszlo’s colleagues with wide ranging interests (Matyas Gede is currently exploring cave surveying and 3D visualisation, along with citizen mapping of tourist activity; Zsolt Torok is a historian of cartography, but also researches eye tracking; Andrea Podor, from a nearby university, examines environmental GIS and educational issues).

Back in Vienna I have been meeting with colleagues in my extensive host department, Geodesy and Geoinformation which has 7 research groups (https://geo.tuwien.ac.at/research-groups/). Gerhard Navratil in Geoinformation has interesting views on the topic of VGI and cadastral systems, which I am continuing to engage with Kaizer and Mustafa back in Newcastle. And Gottfried Mandelburger, familiar to Newcastle geomaticians having spent some time with us, has discussed further the archaeological work I have been interested in doing with LiDAR.

I’ve been doing some ‘map use studies’ by finding orienteering events to participate in whilst here – and it’s great that some wonderful terrain is available so close to Vienna and accessible by public transport. I even had a run in the suburbs of Budapest in torrential rain one hour after my seminar finished: a bit beyond the call of duty, but good training for a main event – the academic orienteering championships at the Danube Park next week (yes, there are enough university staff and students in Vienna to have a formal closed championship).

David Fairbairn

Geospatial in the USA

Last week’s trip to the USA reminded me how cartography and GIS are central to American academic geography. I was invited to the Geography and Geology department of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) to give a research presentation on my work using LiDAR-sourced data to examine archaeological landscapes. It was good to join later in some of Mike Peterson’s classes: it was clear that his new book, ‘Mapping in the Cloud’, acts as an excellent basis for the syllabus of a course on web mapping. I also discussed the August pre-conference joint ICA Commissions (Education & Training/Maps & the Internet) workshop in Curitiba, Brazil: I chair the former, and Rex Cammack from UNO the latter, so we were able to firm up some of the co-organisation in person.

A couple of days later and 500 miles to the east, the AAG conference in Chicago beckoned and my Education & Training hat was retained, presenting a paper about accreditation in cartography, participating in a panel discussion about the role of cartography in GIS education, and invited to sit in with the luminaries on the UCGIS board crafting the extended ‘Body of Knowledge’ in GIS&T. There was also time to visit the Newberry Library in Chicago, where Volume 6 of the History of Cartography (published by the University of Chicago Press, and covering the 20th century) was launched. At 1,960 pages with 1200 illustrations, in two enormous volumes, it was astonishing to see the magnum opus in print. Luckily, contributors have been offered a .PDF copy, so I did not have to check in excess baggage at the airport …

Back in Vienna this week, I visited Gilbert Kotzbek at the Universitat Wien (which celebrates its 650th birthday this year). I have been discussing his PhD work on the use of GIS to examine football data with him for some time now, and he has created some excellent Python-scripted ArcGIS tools to input, filter, and analyse the staggering amount of spatial and attribute data captured during a game and interpreted after (1/25th second interval positional data for every player and ball, plus information about every event – tackle, throw-in, offside, corner etc). What’s missing in the data is the third dimension – it would be interesting to contrast the style of a long-ball team which keeps the ball in the air a lot, with a close-passing, tiki-taka side. I also had the chance to remind myself of teaching in a classroom, when I had a class with the 15 students of the International Masters MSc course in Cartography (who are all studying in Vienna this semester, having been at Dresden and Munich for previous semesters). This is a very international bunch from Egypt, China, Canada etc and closer to home from close-by Slovakia. The topic was VGI, so I was able to convey some of the thoughts which came out of Maythm Al-Bakri’s PhD study from a couple of years ago, and outline what Kaizer and Mustafa are doing in Newcastle now.

bis zum nächsten Mal …

David Fairbairn

RSPSoc Wavelength 2015

From Monday 30th March till Wednesday 1st April, the department hosted the annual Remote Sensing and Photogrammetric Society (RSPSoc) Wavelength Conference. Since it’s rebranding from the student conference, which was last hosted in Newcastle nine years ago, young professionals are now also welcome to present their research and latest developments in all aspects of remote sensing and photogrammetry. The conference was organised by third year PhD student, Andrew McClune, whose research is focussing on the automatic reconstruction of 3D building models from aerial photography.

The conference was well attended by approximately 40 delegates, mainly from UK institutes but with some travelling from as far as Nigeria and Turkey especially for the conference. A wide range of research topics were presented. The opening session was dedicated to the research of  dust & gas detection from satellite platforms, before second year PhD student Magdalena Smigaj, presented her work entitled ‘’Remote sensing for UK forest health monitoring” in the first of the two vegetation sessions. The final session of the first day was a keynote session given by the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Council members, who were in the area for an ISPRS Council meeting. Chen Jun opened with an introduction to the society before Christian Heipke, Leibniz Universität Hannover, and Marguerite Madden, University of Georgia, discussed their individual research topics “New approaches for automatic classification or aerial and satellite images” and “Geospatial Information Supporting Animal Movement and Habitat Studies”, respectively. The final day was closed with a meal at Blackfriars Restaurant, where ISPRS Council members and delegates continued to network and discuss research.

The conference prides itself on offering a strong scientific and social programme, with Tuesday morning being designated to the first batch of social activities. Whilst a small group went to battle it out over the annual game of laser quest, a local tour guide led the rest of the delegates around the many scenic delights that Newcastle has to offer. Although the weather did not hold up with a heavy downpour encountered mid-tour, the tour gave an insight into the history development of the city. The tour started along the Quayside visiting the many bridges along the river before working their way back to the University via the castle, Grainger market and Grey’s Monument.

Presentations resumed after lunch with the urban management topic which saw presenters from GetMapping UK present their street level imagery dataset and the online GIS platform for local parish councils, as well as the use of historical imagery for assessing planned urbanization. The second oral session of the day saw the second vegetation session of the conference and included the winner of Best Oral Presentation from Emily Norton, from Bournemouth University for her research entitled “Multi-Temporal remote sensing of mass graves in temperate environments”. She was proudly presented with a remote sensing book, kindly donated from sponsors Taylor & Francis.

A wide range of poster were presented towards the end of the second day with second year PhD Elias Berra discussing “Forest phenology monitoring by unmanned aerial vehicle” and first years Ben Grayson and Fikiri Mhenga presenting their proposed PhDs researching “Digital photogrammetric techniques in aid of UAV trajectory determination” and “Using remotely sensed products for improved hydrological models in high mountain hydrological regimes.” The final session of the second day was a sponsor session, where representative from Sterling Geo presented the latest developments of the ERDAS software suite whilst promoting the CHEST agreement, which entitles universities to purchased licences for the software at a heavily reduced price.

The second day finished with a meal on the Quayside before the second social event of the conference which saw delegates go bowling. For some it was their first time and they either took to bowling like a duck to water or were experiencing some beginners luck.

The final day was opened with a session dedicated to disaster management and prevention, which saw Maria Peppa and Polpreecha Chidburee, both second year Newcastle PhDs presented their individual PhD research topics entitled “Development of a UAV-based landslide monitoring system” and “Development of a low-cost, real-time photogrammetric monitoring system for landslide hazard analysis”. This was followed by a session of data integration before the conference was closed with a keynote address from David Holland, Ordnance Survey, presenting research on the creation of 3D datasets, a topic which he has been supervising Andrew on as part of his PhD.

A big thank you to the staff and PhD students that helped in the organisation and success of the conference, as well as Edward Malina from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, part of University College London. Edward will now become the Wavelength Rep for RSPSoc and will now start to organise the next Wavelength conference in 2016.

Wavelength Delegates

Wavelength Delegates

 

Geospatial engineering in the Caribbean again!

As part of my work on the CARIWIG project I have been lucky enough to visit the Caribbean on 4 separate occasions. These, despite the speculations from my colleagues, have been work packed trips with the majority of my time being spent in a windowless heavily air-conditioned room. My latest trip saw myself and Phil James from Geospatial engineering visit Barbados where we took part in the CARIWIG training event (which took place in various windowless rooms).

We were there presenting the work that we have done putting together the CARIWIG portal which is a portal designed to let the user visualise, graph and download both historical and simulated future cliamte datasets, as well as allowing the user to run a number of simulations across the region. For slightly more information see here

Gridded data viewer on the portal

Gridded data viewer on the portal

 

Tropical storm model on the portal

Tropical storm model on the portal

 

Over the 3 days participants were introduced to the tools put together for the project and how they are run on the portal. They were then given time to use these tools to conduct their own mini case studies, with them then reporting their findings back to the group.

Overall the event was a great success with participants fully engaging with the tools put together and seeing their potential. And from a personal point of view, they liked the interface and found it intuitive. Plus there were 0 internal server errors, even when a entire room of people all ran the tropical storm model at the same time!

barbados

One of the nicest views on the island

 

 

SESYNC Workshop on Integrated Modelling

Alistair Ford from the Geospatial Engineering group was recently invited to Annapolis, USA for a workshop on “Development of a Prototype of an Integrated Modeling System for Socio-Economic and Environmental Analysis to Promote Sustainability at the Regional Level”. This workshop was hosted by SESYNC, the US National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, with a view to setting up a regional modelling framework for use in Maryland and Chesapeake Bay.

IMG_0636

Rolf Moekel and Gerrit Knaap from the University of Maryland are working on integrating transport, land-use, climate change, and envirnomental models together in order to understand future changes and pressures in the region. First up, Peter Claggett presented the Chesapeake Bay Land Change Model:

Presentation about CBLCM here.

Brian Gregor from Oregon Department of Transportation then presented his R modelling framework for transport and sustainability modelling called GreenSTEP. This allows the testing of many scenarios of land-use and transport futures to understand the impacts on GHGs. The framework consists of a number of R modules and the resultant scenarios (upwards of 200 in one example!) can be interrogated and explored in a Javascript interface.

Brian Gregor’s presentation is available here.

Another interesting presentation was from Brian Deal of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who talked about his LEAM model.  This is a mixed cellular automata and zonal land-use model which run dynamically under uncertainty. It can produce thousands of scenarios and link them to impact models such as flood, water demand, or air quality models.

Brian Deal’s presentation is here.

A number of presentations also talked about data and model integration platforms. Scott Peckham from University of Colorado talked about the EarthCube and CSDMS model integration systems that aim to link together disparate models of similar areas. Tom Bulatewicz from Kansas State University presented the OpenMI model integration platform, and Todd BenDor from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill presented the iRODS database integration plaform which allows the creation of a data grid to collate, curate, update, and link databases.

Scott Peckham’s presentation on CSDMS/EarthCube

Tom Bulatewicz on OpenMI

Todd BenDor on iRODS

The workshop was a very interesting event, with discussions on model complexity, integration, provenance of results, uncertainty, and presentation. The project will be one to watch!

5th ESA Advanced Training Course on Land Remote Sensing

City of Arts and Science, Valencia

City of Arts and Science, Valencia

Last September (2014), I was fortunate to attend the 5th Advanced Training Course on Land Remote Sensing, organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the Scientific Exploitation of Operational Missions (SEOM) programme. This 5-day course took place at University of Valencia, in the sunny eastern Spain, gathering together early career researchers from various countries in an attempt to train the next generation of Earth Observation scientists. This extremely intensive training, delivered by top researchers in the field, covered a wide area of topics and left its participants craving for even more knowledge.

The course was divided into two main groups: SAR and Optical/Thermal, with the second’s programme reported below. The first two days mostly focused on expanding the participants overall knowledge on optical and thermal remote sensing, with advanced sessions provided by J. Moreno and J. Sobrino (Univ. of Valencia). These sessions included, among others, a particularly interesting talk on satellite signal modelling (covering the limitations of currently used leaf and canopy models), as well as a presentation on methods of information extraction and validation. It was followed by an overview of thermal imagery pre-processing steps and methods of land temperature retrieval.

Following this introductory take on remote sensing data processing and signal modelling, the time had come for more specialised sessions; M. Caetano (Foundation of Science and Technology, Portugal) gave a presentation about land cover and land use change monitoring. The applied sessions continued on throughout the third day, with E. Chuvieco (Univ. of Alcalá, Spain) introducing us to fire detection and assessment of its effects, and F. Baret (INRA-CSE, France) speaking about the use of remote sensing techniques for agriculture applications.

On the fourth day, importance was given to multitemporal analysis. L. Bruzzone (Univ. of Trento, Italy) gave an excellent presentation on methods of change detection, which are currently used for various data types (multispectral, VHR multispectral, SAR, VHR SAR and hyperspectral imagery). He also briefly presented an example of multisensor change detection with use of multispectral and SAR data. The day finished with a presentation given by G. Camps-Valls (Univ. of Valencia) on hyperspectral image processing. The last day brought lecture sessions on various remote sensing applications, with E. Tomelleri (EURAC, Italy) giving a talk on carbon cycling and ecosystem modelling, W. Wagner (TU Wien, Austria) on hydrology and climate change monitoring, and T. Wright (Univ. of Leeds, UK) talking about earthquakes and volcanoes observation.

Valencia Cathedral at Plaza de la Virgen (city centre)

Valencia Cathedral at Plaza de la Virgen (city centre)

Apart from the knowledge-packed programme, the organisers offered the participants a chance to present their work to the rest of the attendees. During the evening poster session, I presented the current progress of my PhD project, entitled “Remote Sensing of Forest Health in UK”, in which I am investigating the potential of integration of different remote sensing data sources for detection of disease stress symptoms. As the course came to an end, the time had come to say goodbye to warm and sunny Valencia and face the reality of coming back to Newcastle.

I would like to thank the RSPSoc for the invaluable financial help, allowing me to attend this course.

Magdalena Smigaj (2nd Year PhD Student)

 

Note: All of the abovementioned lectures were filmed and are currently available at ESA’s website within the “Space in Videos” section. They can also be accessed through:  http://seom.esa.int/landtraining2014/files/LTC2014_Programme_Materials.pdf

Meeting of ARCC Network Data and Information Management Group, University of Birmingham, January 7th 2015

January 7th saw the first face-to-face meeting of members of the ARCC Network Data and Information Management Group at the University of Birmingham, which GE-researcher David Alderson attended. Organised by Fiona Hewer, ARCC Network Data and Information Strategy Officer (Fiona.Hewer@ukcip.org.uk), the meeting offered the first opportunity for members to discuss data and information tracking within their respective projects. The “Liveable Cities” and “Designing Resilient Cities” (University of Birmingham) was represented by researchers and project managers, Joanne Leach and Amy Beierholm, with David Alderson discussing the ITRC project. Further to this, Ben Ryan, Senior Manager for Research Outcomes at EPSRC gave an overview of the EPSRC’s policy and framework for data, with members able to contribute from their own experiences or experiences of colleagues at their respective institutions of the recent submissions to the new “ResearchFish” tool.

Further information will become available once the minutes are completed, but in the mean time below are some interesting links that may prove useful:

Research Data Management Website @ Newcastle: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/rdm

EPSRC Policy Framework on Research Data: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/about/standards/researchdata/

EPSRC Clarification and Guidance on Policy Framework for Research Data: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/files/aboutus/standards/clarificationsofexpectationsresearchdatamanagement/

ARCC Network Website: http://www.arcc-network.org.uk

OpenARCC @ ARCC Network Website: http://www.arcc-network.org.uk/openarcc/

OpenARCC Data Website: https://openarcc.wordpress.com/

 

 

Geospatial in Grenada – Ivan 10

From the 1st – 3rd of December I visited a very sunny Grenada attending the 10th anniversary of Ivan symposium. This looked at the lessons learnt from the fallout of hurricane Ivan across the Caribbean region and how different sectors could help to prevent a future hurricane having a similar affect. I was there representing the CARIWIG project, along with Professor Michael Taylor and Jayaka Campbell from UWI, Jamaica. Michael Taylor brilliantly outlined the project and demonstrated elements of the portal site that I have been putting together over the past year. The presentation was very well received with myself and Jayaka Campbell being asked to demo the storm model element of the portal to a number of delegates.

The CARIWIG portal site is likely to go live following a workshop event in February so watch this space for more details.

storm6

CARIWIG Storm tool

I would like to thank the members of of CDEMA for putting on this event, the conference was well run and contained many interesting talks about hurricane Ivan, including a opening address from the Prime minister of Grenada, as well as plenty of Caribbean food as lunch times. Plus December in Grenada beats December in the north east of England

Whitley Bay eat your heart out

Whitley Bay eat your heart out

Neil – @neil_py_harris