Where is Newcastle?

Following on from an early email exchange about how Google defined “Newcastle” it got me thinking about other providers and how they define the city. Twitter for instance provides a bounding box the centre of which is the middle of Nun’s Moor (as does Google but the point location is not the centroid of it). As you can see from the image there is wide variation. Note that a couple (Yahoo/Michelin) place the point location at the point roughly where the centre of the text “Newcastle upon Tyne” appears on certain map products.

The mean centre of the point locations excluding the centroids is shown as well.

Newcastle maps

So I visited a pile of map sites and extracted their default location (and/or bounding box) and plotted them on the map. For twitter I sent a tweet from “Newcastle upon Tyne” and captured the coordinates using the API. Just to be rigorous I installed TOR browser which obfuscates the IP address to ensure that location was not being picked up from the browser and tried different browsers as well. The OS point for Newcastle upon Tyne was collected from the Gazetteer service provided through Digimap.

The vaguely serious point here is that we now routinely use APIs to get data from and its location yet those locations provide spurious precision!

Football Travel Times


Following our blog post looking at the distances of football grounds from their nearest railway station, we had a think about other interesting football-related analysis that we could do. Having previously been a holder of an away season ticket, I thought that one interesting comparison might be to investigate which football fans would spend the longest on public transport to visit away games.

In order to do this analysis we used the Google Maps Distance Matrix API (https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/distance-matrix/ ) to calculate the time and distance you would have to travel on public transport between each football club, to arrive at 2pm on a Saturday. The locations of the football grounds were used as the start and end points for each journey since we obviously don’t know where supporters actually live!


Below is a list of the 5 longest away trips between any pair of Football League or Premier League clubs. You could look at this as the nightmare FA Cup draw if you’re committed to going to the game, and the ones you really don’t want to be switched to a Friday night for TV coverage.


team1 team2 duration length
Plymouth Argyle Newcastle United 6 hours 39 mins 657.287Km
Plymouth Argyle Sunderland 6 hours 29 mins 647.920Km
Torquay United Newcastle United 6 hours 22 mins 620.825Km
Plymouth Argyle Hartlepool United 6 hours 13 mins 622.370Km
Carlisle United Plymouth Argyle 6 hours 13 mins 626.729Km

The 5 quickest are below – some of these would likely be quicker to walk!

team1 team2 duration length
Notts County Nottingham Forest 3 mins 1.126Km
Liverpool Everton 4 mins 1.654Km
Fulham Chelsea 11 mins 3.138Km
Walsall West Bromwich Albion 11 mins 9.997Km
Birmingham City Aston Villa 11 mins 5.831Km

In summary, you really don’t want to draw Plymouth away…

Settling a Coffee Break Debate – Football Travel Distance


As I imagine happens at many work places the coffee break for the Geospatial group often brings up some lively debates. Whilst today’s debate itself wasn’t exactly lively it did pose an interesting question. Which football ground is the further away from a mainline railway station? The answer put out there Hillsborough. Not content with this guesswork I ran a simple piece of analysis. Luckily we have the football grounds from the work we carries out with the football tweets (previous blog & site) and the the railway stations from work carried out for ITRC (http://www.itrc.org.uk/).

Football League Stadia

Football League Stadia



GB Railway Stations

Therefore all i had to do was look at the nearest railway station to each ground and calculate the distance between them. I did this by loading both datasets into PostgreSQL + PostGIS and performing a few simple queries.  The results are below: Whilst Hillsborough wasn’t the furthest it wasn’t far off.

Ideally we’d look at the distance along the UK road network and not straight line distance. But this seems somewhat overkill for answering this question.



Football Club Stadium Name Railway Station Distance (m)
Fleetwood Town Highbury Stadium Poulton-le-Fylde 7908.11125559371
Bury Gigg Lane Clifton 6660.52530406908
Sheffield Wednesday Hillsborough Sheffield 4531.43899643992
Yeovil Town Huish Park Yeovil Pen Mill 4305.2978740895
Oxford United Kassam Stadium Radley 4089.74370918289
Coventry City Ricoh Arena Bedworth 3965.19467363248
Wycombe Wanderers Adams Park High Wycombe 3796.07635929164
Reading Madjeski Stadium Reading West 3669.95693983928
Cheltenham Town Whaddon Road Cheltenham Spa 2983.6953569951
Dagenham and Redbridge Victoria Road Dagenham Dock 2598.82359490238
Colchester United Weston Homes Community Stadium Colchester 2573.12612621598
Scunthorpe United Glanford Park Althorpe 2568.65402852626
Shrewsbury Town New Meadow Shrewsbury 2532.86554400019
Cambridge United Abbey Stadium Cambridge 2371.65580933094
Preston North End Deepdale Preston 2220.26792889295
Doncaster Rovers Keepmoat Stadium Doncaster 2207.80263428059
Stoke City Britannia Stadium Stoke-on-Trent 2201.7962708601
Rochdale Spotland Stadium Rochdale 2098.43404250318
Burton Albion Pirelli Stadium Burton-on-Trent 2091.47360872247
Queens Park Rangers Loftus Road Kensington Olympia 2050.97406409029
Bristol Rovers Memorial Stadium Montpelier 2015.77067665531
Swansea City Liberty Stadium Swansea 1980.92022136336
West Ham Boleyn Ground Woodgrange Park 1929.54896518672
Macclesfield Town Moss Rose Macclesfield 1901.57512833285
Chesterfield B2net Stadium Chesterfield 1856.0814157692
Port Vale Vale Park Longport 1840.42432657788
Northampton Town Sixfields Stadium Northampton 1821.98141599042
Oldham Athletic Boundary Park Oldham Werneth 1808.16787682106
Liverpool Anfield Kirkdale 1738.52974959448
Leicester City King Power Stadium Leicester 1725.57185592057
Manchester United Old Trafford Trafford Park 1671.87218748047
Torquay United Plainmoor Torre 1667.13531194068
Stevenage Borough The Lamex Stadium Stevenage 1595.47056887281
Fulham Craven Cottage Putney 1586.58592171703
MK Dons Stadiummk Fenny Stratford 1555.74401416301
Crawley Town Broadfield Stadium Crawley 1483.25999132287
Tranmere Rovers Prenton Park Rock Ferry 1461.01057568374
Leeds United Elland Road Cottingley 1460.72706001557
York City Bootham Crescent York 1424.83761465897
Carlisle United Brunton Park Carlisle 1400.33683628771
Accrington Stanley Crown Ground Accrington 1386.80058458418
Hull City KC Stadium Hull 1372.8238336756
Wigan Athletic DW Stadium Wigan Wallgate 1354.71103755325
Barnet Underhill Stadium New Barnet 1331.81735155781
Peterborough United London Road Peterborough 1291.81586333005
Manchester City Etihad Stadium Ashburys 1283.26185362597
Southampton St Mary’s Stadium Woolston 1242.27676803219
Plymouth Argyle Home Park Plymouth 1241.72387816119
Huddersfield Town The Galpharm Stadium Huddersfield 1223.89758310361
Luton Town Kenilworth Road Luton 1207.43855797424
Nottingham Forest The City Ground Nottingham 1190.56463654538
Bristol City Ashton Gate Parson Street 1118.57856017793
Blackburn Rovers Ewood Park Mill Hill (Lancashire) 1118.44597418967
Leyton Orient Brisbane Road Leyton Midland Road 1110.75176145117
Morecambe Globe Arena Bare Lane 1104.26121401745
Burnley Turf Moor Burnley Central 1099.33701322422
Sunderland Stadium of Light Sunderland 1055.4979571639
Sheffield United Bramall Lane Sheffield 1049.19338825299
Swindon Town The County Ground Swindon 1046.99266525118
Middlesbrough Riverside Middlesbrough 1039.53610939064
Derby County Pride Park Derby 1036.0030157922
Everton Goodison Park Kirkdale 1023.2951415739
Bournemouth Seward Stadium Pokesdown 948.719417631076
Bradford City Valley Parade Bradford Forster Square 887.461708978663
Newcastle United St James Park Newcastle 882.06576774756
Notts County Meadow Lane Nottingham 774.620214342908
Wolverhampton Wanderers Molineux Wolverhampton 765.334742248787
Birmingham City St Andrews Bordesley 739.514349756714
Gillingham Priestfield Stadium Gillingham (Kent) 739.141518305716
Portsmouth Fratton Park Fratton 723.641439892184
Watford Vicarage Road Watford High Street 723.345746538908
Newport County Rodney Parade Newport (South Wales) 698.880470762071
Blackpool Bloomfield Road Blackpool South 697.435988426917
Barnsley Oakwell Barnsley 682.917115524344
Crystal Palace Selhurst Park Selhurst 677.760455528003
AFC Wimbledon, Kingstonian Kingsmeadow Berrylands 674.163052791649
Chelsea Stamford Bridge West Brompton 669.65763374968
Southend United Roots Hall Prittlewell 648.744802036577
Hereford United Edgar Street Hereford 641.878247423655
Mansfield Town Field Mill Mansfield 519.745391130574
Brighton and Hove Albion Amex Stadium Falmer 508.088645989644
Norwich City Carrow Road Norwich 502.075507307756
Brentford Griffin Park Brentford 469.248811545038
Ipswich Town Portman Road Ipswich 449.735676979146
Cardiff City Cardiff City Stadium Ninian Park 446.968827575298
England Wembley Wembley Stadium 444.804879003609
Wales Millennium Stadium Cardiff Central 435.803806645578
Hartlepool United Victoria Park Hartlepool 427.446542975968
Aldershot Town Recreation Ground Aldershot 427.090743110385
Rotherham United New York Stadiumn Rotherham Central 423.627007354715
Charlton Athletic The Valley Charlton 417.116709260371
Tottenham Hotspur White Hart Lane White Hart Lane 409.064526485295
West Bromwich Albion The Hawthorns The Hawthorns 394.729198538797
Bolton Wanderers Macron Stadium Horwich Parkway 385.009392892004
Aston Villa Villa Park Witton 337.23715256677
Millwall The Den South Bermondsey 331.809250300019
Walsall Bescot Stadium Bescot Stadium 304.080986833392
Arsenal Emirates Stadium Drayton Park 301.141025758736
Crewe Alexandra Gresty Road Crewe 248.015731120882
Exeter City St James Park, Exeter St James’ Park 140.15324879625

ITRC book published

Last week a book, ‘The Future of National Infrastructure: A Systems-of-Systems Approach’, by reasearchers from the ITRC (Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium), was released and made available for purchase. The book provides insights into a range of the work undertaken in the ITRC project, from the economic and demographic projections to 2100 for the UK, to the analysis performed with developed national scale models for critical infrastructure systems and the developed underlying database and visualisation tools used. Synopsis:

“The future of national infrastructure: A system-of-systems approach provides practitioners, decision-makers, and academics with the concepts, models and tools needed to identify and test robust, sustainable, and resilient strategies for the provision of national-scale infrastructure. It takes a “system-of-systems” view on the interconnected infrastructure networks – including transport, telecommunications, energy, water, and waste-management – and derives an integrated vision on infrastructure provision required to ensure that nations have an infrastructure system that is fit for the future.”

Our own Stuart Barr, David Alderson and Craig Robson have all been involved in the research behind the book which has been carried out over the past five years, with a single chapter devoted to the work where their time has been focused, though they have also contributed to much of the other work. The chapter, ‘Database, simulation modelling and visualisation for national infrastructure assessment’, documents the tools developed here at Newcastle; the underlying database for the infrastructure models including developed schema’s as well as the visualisation and reporting tools for both the data used for the modelling and for the results from the simulation work and subsequent analysis. This research has involved the development of a national infrastructure database containing a suite of data for many of the critical infrastructures in the UK along with the associated data such as economic and demographic modelling outputs for demand modelling as well as hazard data for modelling the resilience of the infrastructure networks/systems. Along with this, a schema and associated functions for the simulation and modelling of national infrastructures has been developed as well as a PostgreSQL/postgis schema for networks and the wrappers for integration into the python package NetworkX. On top of these, a suite of web based visualisation tools have been developed with facilities to view and interrogate the results from the infrastructure modelling and simulation, tools to view the underlying demographic data, one of the main drivers for the modelling. More details of these outputs are available in the book, and further publications in the form of journal articles are in preparation.

Field work in Iraq

As part of Mustafa Hameed’s PhD research, he spent some time doing fieldwork in communities in his native Iraq. The research is assessing the role of VGI (volunteered geographic information) input in re-building the Iraqi cadastral system after years of chaos. The work done in the town of Al-Hilla (south of Baghdad) during December 2015 and January 2016 concentrated on several aspects: firstly, interviews with land administration professionals yielded an assessment of the current land administration system and opinions regarding the role of VGI; secondly, sample attribute data pertaining to land parcels was collected from professionals, gatekeepers of selected communities, and some owners of parcels in those communities; finally, geometrical data was collected by the owner of parcels who identified their parcel boundaries using three different techniques (GPS app on a smartphone, iPad tablet, and paper-printed satellite image). It was pleasing to see such a large number of local people willing to volunteer their knowledge, time and services to this project.

Fieldwork pictures:

Using printed satellite image to identify parcel boundaries

Above: Using printed satellite image to identify parcel boundaries

Using an iPad with uploaded and georeferenced cadastral maps to identify and edit parcels

Above: Using an iPad with uploaded and georeferenced cadastral maps to identify and edit parcels

Using smartphones to find GPS coordinates on parcel corners

Above: Using smartphones to find GPS coordinates on parcel corners

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.


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.

Pub statistics (1)

Anyone with any experience of working/visiting the Geomatics group will know that, just like in most other academic establishments, visits to the pub at the end of a hard week are just as important as anything else that happens during the working week. To this end, the Friday night pub call is now well and truly part of the culture of the group, and without some would be inclined to say they would feel lost without this. However, the visit to the pub could be argued to have fallen into the shadow of the call email itself, which depending on the sender, can tell a complex story which few understand and can only read with a face of utter bewilderment.

So, to cut to the chase, as an exploratory piece of ‘academic research’ we have compiled a comprehensive database, going back to the creation of the GWRS call email list, 2008, until the current day. Every pub call ever made over the past 7 years, that’s 397 Fridays, the pub and the person who made the call have been recorded (though some are blank due to public holidays and missing data). Further data has then been added including the weather to allow us to explore the call data in more detail, and attempt to understand any patterns which may or may not be present.

To start with, and to end this initial post here, below are some key initial statistics on the data we have collected.


Top 10 Pub Calls

Hotspur 50
Bacchus 48
Strawberry 42
Bodega 29
Lady Grey 20
Newcastle Arms 12
Town Wall 11
Bridge Hotel 10
Five Swans 9

Caller Stats

Caller Favourite Pub Number of Calls Number of Unique Pubs called
Martin Robertson Strawberry ( 33 ) 207 34
Laura Hanson Hotspur ( 11 ) 37 15
Ali Ford Bodega ( 10 ) 27 12
Matt Goode Five Swans ( 3 ) 15 11
Claire Walsh Cluny & Tilleys & Bacchus & Town Wall & Bodega & Strawberry & Trent House & Collingwood & Hotspur & Forth ( 1 ) 10 10
Richard Dawson Bacchus & Hotspur ( 2 ) 7 5
Peter Clarke Hotspur ( 2 ) 4 3
Tom Holderness Carriage & Bodega & Hotspur ( 1 ) 3 3
Ian Thomas Hotspur ( 2 ) 3 2

Top 10 Warmest Pubs

Average Temperature recorded in Newcastle at 5pm (c) Pub Number of Calls
16.5 Free Trade 4
14.5 Centurion 2
14 Northern Stage 3
13.5 Tilleys 4
13.4444444444 Five Swans 9
13.2 Pleased To Meet You 5
13.2 Bridge Hotel 10
12.6666666667 Bar Loco 6
12.5 City Tavern 4
12.0344827586 Bodega 29

Mean Weighted cntre of pub clalsmean_cntre


Craig and Neil.

Summer school in Obergurgl




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