Dec 052011

The STEEV project led the discussion on two tasks at the #jiscGEO breakout sessions (as part of the JISC Geo Tools launch on Nov. 28 & 29).

The first task at table 6 was to come up with a recommendation about how spatial and temporal analysis can enhance research. Using the example of digitised boundaries for temporal spatial research the group discussed the unavailability of historic content (bearing in mind the volatile nature (in political terms) of boundaries!). Discussion also centred around the new INSPIRE directive and how compliant spatial datasets must have a temporal component (i.e. a start date). Views on a variety of spatio-temporal analytical approaches and utilities were exchanged – this led to the formulation of two recommendations, namely:

  • An audit is required of spatio-tremporal tools, utilities, procedures and techniques used within a research space
  • For the purposes of exchange and integration, the creation of an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) XML-based spatio-temporal data standard

Many thanks to Mia Ridge (Open University), Neil Jakeman (Kings College London), Andrew Bradley (University of Leicester), Tom Ensom (UK Data Archive, University of Essex), Richard Fry (University of Glamorgan), Scott Orford (Cardiff University), Andrew Newton (University of Huddersfield), Jasper Tredgold (ILRT, University of Bristol), Kate Byrne (University of Edinburgh) for articulating said recommendations.

The second task at table 5 was to discuss and come up with recommendations about how to fully exploit spatial analysis within research.

Much of this discussion concentrated on spatial literacy as a means to both prepare and engage the student or researcher considering undergoing spatial analysis in an educational setting. The ubiquity of modern web mapping utilities, geo-tools, open geo-browsers means that it is easy to represent spatially a whole range of data. However whether the representation is accurate, makes sense or is reliable is another matter. Thus in order to ensure that spatial analysis is robust, can bear scrutiny, is accurate and understandable the group came up with the following recommendations, namely:

  • The establishment of a (JISC) spatial interest group (comprising a whole range of stakeholders) that can advise and critique on spatial analysis methods, applications, documentation, open materials and courses, and provide expertise. This may be national in remit.
  • To scope an ‘analytical framework’ robust enough to be cross-disciplinary, which would make explicit spatial representation for the purposes of interpretation, make explicit context be it physical, social, temporal. In addition this framework should be adaptable to work from the generic to the domain specific research scenario, use non-technical jargon and be critical in its approach to include both positive and negative case studies.

Many thanks to Martha LeGess (LaMa studio), Chris Bailey (ILRT, University of Bristol), Patricia Carbajales (Stanford University), Conor Smyth (EDINA, University of Edinburgh), Alexander Hirschfield (University of Huddersfield) for articulating said recommendations.

 December 5, 2011  Posted by at 4:36 pm General Tagged with: ,  1 Response »
Nov 262011

Before I forget (and just in time for the JISC GeoTools event on Monday) the EDINA Training Officer Viv Carr went above and beyond the call of duty to craft the definitive STEEV instructional video on Friday afternoon (25\11\11). The purpose of the camtasia broadcast is to walk users through both feature and functionality of the demonstrator.

Many thanks are also due to software engineers George Hamilton and Michael Koutroumpas who also went above and beyond the call of duty in pulling together at the last moment interface and back-end data development. This has been the difference between producing a good project deliverable and an excellent project deliverable.YouTube Preview Image

 November 26, 2011  Posted by at 7:43 pm General No Responses »
Nov 112011

This blog post provides details about the web tool developed by the STEEV project.

Problem Space:

  • There is a requirement by the UK government to reduce the country’s carbon emission by 80% by 2050.
  • Buildings account for 45% of energy use in the UK, the equivalent of all transport and manufacturing combined (ESRC, 2009).
  • Most building stock which will exist in 2050 has already been built.
  • To achieve this target massive alterations of the current buildings are required. Part of the solution would be a tool that could enable planners, local authorities and government to best estimate the impact of policy changes and to target the interventions appropriately.

Cue  – the STEEV demonstrator, a stakeholder engagement tool developed to visualise spatio-temporal patterns of modeled energy use and efficiency outcomes for the period of 1990-2050 –

For a portable overview of the project download the STEEV postcard

Primary Users:

Students, researchers, lecturers from a wide variety of disciplines/sub-disciplines, including geography, architecture, ecology, environmental science, economics, energy engineering and management.

The tool is also aimed at a range of stakeholders such as policy makers, urban developers, climate change specialists, carbon energy analysts, town planners.

Key Product Information – motivations and mechanisms

The STEEV demonstrator was developed to complement a larger project, Retrofit 2050 – Re-Engineering the City 2020-2050: Urban Foresight and Transition Management (EPSRC EP/I002162/1) which aims, through a range of stakeholders, to get a clearer understanding as to how urban transitions can be undertaken to achieve UK and international targets to reduce carbon emissions. The Retrofit 2050 project focuses on two large urban case study areas (Manchester and Neath/Port Talbot, South Wales – the latter being the focus of the STEEV demonstrator due to data availability within the project time-frame), through modelling scenarios of carbon emissions and energy use, both now and in the future.

The demonstrator itself is a client web application that enables researchers and stakeholders to look at how the spatial and temporal distribution of energy efficiency measures may impact upon likely regional outcomes for a given future state. This takes the form of a spatio-temporal exploration and visualisation tool for building-level energy efficiency modelling outputs such as the energy rating of the building, the likely energy demand of the building and the related CO2 emissions. A finite series of modelled scenario permutations have been ‘pre-built’ thus providing a limited number of parameters to be interactively altered in order to explore the spatio-temporal consequences of various policy measures.

View the STEEV Demonstrator Website: :

Note: A further workpackage to establish a small area data viewer as part of the presentation layer will also be implemented shortly. This replaces the Memento geo-Timegate component of Workpackage 3.

The user interface has two main areas of activity, namely:

  • three ‘pre-built’ policy scenarios which depict government investment in energy efficiency measures (from best to worst case scenario) and a user generated scenario created by selecting a combination of the energy efficiency variables which go to make up the ‘pre-built’ scenarios.
  • a map viewer that enables model output values (SAP ratings, Energy use, CO2 emission) for each scenario to be viewed for each decade (1990 to 2050) at Output Area level of spatial granularity.

Further information about the policy-scenarios and variable descriptions are available from the help page

Fig1. – The STEEV Demonstrator

STEEV tool interface

Fig. 2. – Policy Scenario 2 – Low Carbon Reference

CO2 emissions, 2010 - Low carbon reference

Fig. 2 – Policy scenario 2 – Low Carbon Reference (i.e. the government invests in partial decarbonisation of the grid through reduced dependence on fossil fuels. Large investment in energy efficiency and small scale renewable, some change in occupant behaviour) has been selected for 2010. CO2 emissions have been chosen as model output value.

Fig. 3 – User-generated Scenario

Energy use for Custom Scenario 2020

Fig. 3 – A zoomed in view of a user-generated scenario for Energy Use for 2020. Note: User generated scenarios are forecast only.

Fig. 4 – Policy scenario 3 – Google Earth Time Slider

Energy efficiency data can be downloaded as Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files for use with the Google Earth Time Slider (for ‘pre-built’ scenarios only – see below) or as raw ASCII files complete with spatial reference for analysis in a Geographic Information System.

Energy Use policy scenario

Fig. 4 – KML files viewed on Google Earth for Energy Use output model values for policy scenario 3 – (i.e. the government invests in decarbonisation of the grid through renewable, nuclear, and huge investment in energy efficiency and small scale renewables. Large scale change in occupants behaviour)

Fig. 5 – Model output for individual buildings

Model output for individual buildings

Fig. 5 – Forecasted model output values (SAP rating, Energy use, CO2 emissions, CO2 emissions based on 1990 levels) for an individual building in 2030.

Note: Click on Blue dot and select Buildings map layer.

Members of the STEEV project presented at the following events:

  • STEEV / GECO Green Energy Tech Workshop at the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change (13 October 2011) – for further details see blog post
  • Post-event comments include:

    STEEV provides a new simple tool to quickly visualise a series of scenarios concerning energy consumption and carbon emissions within the complexities of the urban fabric. By facilitating the visual and historical understanding of these issues in a wider area, and for its forecasting capability considering a series of energy efficiency variables, it has a great potential to assist the planning and design processes.“ – Cristina Gonzalez-Longo (School of Architecture, University of Edinburgh)

    The STEEV system’s geospatial information on energy consumption and CO2 emissions can help planners and project developers target projects and initiatives related to energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emissions. Furthermore, the forecasting tools built into STEEV enables energy and carbon emissions to be estimated through to 2050 on the basis of alternative scenarios for energy efficiency initiatives, renewable energy, etc. This facility should help to determine where the opportunities for future emissions reductions will be, and the contributions made by existing policies and plans to future (e.g. 2020 and 2050) emissions reduction targets.” – Jim Hart (Business Manager, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation)

  • The Low Carbon Research Institute 3rd Annual Conference held at the National Museum of Wales on 15-16 November 2011
  • Post-Industrial Transformations – sharing knowledge and identifying opportunities, a two-day architectural symposium held at the Welsh School of Architecture on 22-23 November 2011

The STEEV demonstrator is a JavaScript client application which uses Open Layers as the mechanism for displaying the map data over the web. It also deploys a Web Map Service with temporal querying capabilities (WMS-T) to deliver Ordnance Survey open mapping products via the Digimap OpenStream API. The modelled energy efficiency variables are held in PostGIS (an open source spatial database extension to PostgreSQL)

Data – Open Database License (ODC-ODbL) — “Attribution Share-Alike for data/databases”
Code – GNU General Public License version 3.0
Blog & other website content – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Table of Contents of Blog Posts:

Project Logos:

combined logos of EDINA, JISC, WSA

Project Team:

STEEV Project Team

EDINA team members (L to R: Lasma Sietinsone, George Hamilton, Stuart Macdonald, Nicola Osborne. Fiona Hemsley-Flint is currently on maternity leave.)

Simon Lannon: Project partner from Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University:

Nov 022011

Following on from the STEEV Usability Report recommendations and user feedback a number of requested features/functionality/bug fixes/tweaks have been committed to the EDINA Redmine butracker with view to implementation prior to the JISC GeoTools day. The resource required comes in at around 70 hours which is more than double originally estimated (due in part to the requirement to implement a ‘feature return’ functionality (at the polygon level) whereby a user can click on an individual house and the features associated with it are made explicit (SAP rating, CO2 emission, Energy Use etc)). Our GI Analyst has already facilitated this by preparing a configuration file for STEEV WFS in order to query individual buildings however there are interface and MapServer developer requirements.

A decision will be made shortly regarding developer resource in order to implement said changes.

As perparation gets underway for the forthcoming JISC Geo Tools day ((28/29 Nov.) STEEV have produced a postcard which will be distributed at the event and made available to our project partner at the Welsh School of Architecture for further outreach opportunities. Feel free to digitally send the postcard to interested colleagues.

 November 2, 2011  Posted by at 5:03 pm General Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Oct 172011

The STEEV project has deployed the Bug Tracker utility Redmine to capture refinements, tweaks, bugs, feature enhancements on the current state of the demonstrator. These have been gathered as part of the first sweep of the review process. Feedback obtained from other stakeholders (namely, delegates in attendance at the Green Energy Tech Workshop) will also be fed into Redmine.

David Hamill (from was commissioned to review the STEEV demonstrator for potential usability issues. He found several areas of the interface that could be improved. The most pressing of which were the relationship between the policy-based scenarions and the customisable scenarios compiled from the variable set, and the relationship between the policy scenario controls and the timeline.

The belowmentioned recommendations will also be reviewed and, where applicable fed into Redmine. Our developer (on return from annual leave) will estimate the amount of time required to implement proposed changes. As it stands we aim to have gathered all comment/feedback by the end of October with a view to there being a build freeze shortly after.

The Good usability recommendations are as follows:

  1. Make 2020 the default year so the full controls are released to the user when it loads.
  2. Combine the Present Scenarios and Variables into a single feature with 4 options ( the 3 scenarios and a ‘custom’ option.) and a single submit button .
    If the user moves the controls the currently selected radio button should jump to ‘Custom’ so it doesn’t look as though a preset scenario is being displayed .
  3. Instead of deactivating the controls when the user is in the past, allow the user to create a scenario and if they do so jump to 2020 when they submit it.
  4. Do not rely purely on the slider position to denote the current settings as the sliders can be moved . Consider options for showing the user what the current scenario they are looking at it. If scales were added (see next slide) then the appropriate position on the scale could be highlighted in some way. However this is just one way it could be done.
  5. Provide a scale on the slider to show where the slider can stop. Give each level a tooltip on hover that helps users understand them. The cursor should go to a hand on hover also so that the user understands they can simply click it to get the slider to move to this position.
  6. As explained previously in this report, provide a custom scenario option so the user can see that the preset scenario is not being shown.
  7. Add the short name to the scenario options so the user quickly understands them. This will help the user understand what they are looking at when they see the data.
  8. Combine the output model selection with the legend and show them by default. Allow them (it) to de hidden or minimised by the user.
  9. Use the word ‘forecast’ within the scenario controls in a way that reinforces the idea that this will only generate data for 2020 onward.
    Position the headings for the timeline above the year options rather than having them below. This will make it more likely that they are noticed. Consider also saying ‘Historic data’ and ‘Forecast data’ to reinforce the idea that the scenarios only apply to forecast data.
    Consider providing a stronger visual cue for the currently selected year. Also consider making the forecast years stronger visually than historic years.
  10. Remove the play option and explore ways of allowing users to compare the data across the timeline. This could be through a print option or exporting image files of the data for each year. It could mean generating a PDF that contained the data for each of the years. There are numerous ways of doing this but this Play option is likely to fall short of being useful.
    If it were to remain, the button is incorrectly placed. It’s contextually relevant to the timeline so should be associated with it visually.
  11. Use the word ‘layers’ and an indicative icon for the layer option. Also allow the user to remove either layer.

The Usability Report can be downloaded in full.

 October 17, 2011  Posted by at 12:46 pm General Tagged with:  No Responses »
Oct 142011

30 or so delegates gathered at the temporary home of the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change to participate in the cross-sectoral Green Energy tech event organised by the JISC-funded STEEV and GECO projects. The event proved to be a very useful forum to exchange ideas on all things green energy-related in the urban space. A dozen or so presentations were squeezed into the half-day programme and as such timing was crucial in order to keep the event on track.

The event was comprehensively live blogged by the EDINA Social Media Officer, Nicola Osborne (so many thanks Nicola!) and the slides available from the GECO blog at:

The opportunity was taken to ask delegates to test and provide feedback on the STEEV demonstrator by the end of October for inclusion in the final developer sprint towards the finished STEEV tool. An email will be going out to delegates by way of a reminder.

Many thanks to Nicola, Addy and James, and to all the participants for such a stimulating and eclectic set of presentations.

 October 14, 2011  Posted by at 5:07 pm General Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Oct 122011

One day until the joint STEEV/GECO-organised Green Energy Tech Event to be held at the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change. The event has sold out with a number of delegates on a waiting list. Slides from presenters are being gathered for what promises to be a full and engaging programme (see URL:

The event will be live blogged on the GECO blog, it can be followed on Twitter using the #e3viz hash tag. A full report on the event will follow.

Oct 042011

“Because everyone will eventually have ‘an App’ in their pocket that uses GPS!”

JISC is pleased to announce the launch of several new BETA products and tools centred around geospatial technology and aimed at Universities, Colleges and Schools. Come along and experiment with these soon-to-be-released products at a special one day event on Monday November 28th at Ravensborough College (next door to the Milennium Dome) in London. 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. Come along and discover how Geo really is part of everyday work and play

So, what can you expect?

Well, we have a fantastic set of geospatial tools and projects including these highlights:

Are you a student? You’ll want to see the #Gemma project (University College London) and their cool new Android and iPhone apps that help collect data for research projects and assignments and then present your data as colourful maps. Want to impress your teachers and get a better grade on your next assignment? Want to use your smartphone for data collection? Then you need to check this event out.

Are you a researcher? You’ll want to see how the Halogen2 (University of Leicester) project have build cross-disciplinary geo links between DNA data and other scholarly datasets: archaeology, genealogy, history…. Welcome to the future of cross-disciplinary research!

Are you a teacher? You’ll want to see the new handbook that GeoSciTeach (Institute of Education) is producing on how to integrate geospatial tools into class activities. See how they used mobile phones to conduct a lesson at Kew Gardens, making the great outdoors into an interactive teaching and learning space. In short, you’re not cool unless you’ve got geospatial in school!

Best of all the day is finished up with an evening Awards party (in the Millenium Dome!) for the projects and all their hard work. Come shake hands with these projects, toast their success and find out who will win Geospatial project of the Year!

For a Draft Agenda for the event please see:

See you there.

Please use the hashtag “#jiscGEO” to talk about this event on your favourite social network.

To register for this event please use the following link (Day 1 is the ‘Show and Tell’ Day described above for these projects – though you are welcome to stay on and learn more about geo on the other event days):

 October 4, 2011  Posted by at 5:05 pm General No Responses »