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 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 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 »
Sep 292011

The first port of call for explanation or definition of STEEV tool functionality or terminology is this Help page.

We thought it useful to make available contextual information describing both policy scenario, variable.

Thus: here are the Policy Scenarios Descriptions, and here are the Variable Descriptions.

Note: As part of the usability and user testing we shall endeavour to make the variable and policy scenarios description information more explcit for the purposes of informing end use of the tool.

Other Help and Guidance notes:

STEEV Camtasia broadcast – explains and walks users through the functionality and features of the energy efficiency visualisation tool.

Contextual Overview of the STEEV tool

Overview of the Energy and Environment Prediction (EEP) model developed by the Welsh School of Architecture

The STEEV tool uses ‘hover over‘ boxes to provide an explanation about functionality. Use the mouse to hover over the buttons, slider gauge, markings and labels to get further information. Green information buttons provide further details about each scenario.

The Share Link feature on the interface uses a STEEV RESTful API to define a URI representing the value of the model, each variable, the year, the map extents and the map zoom level. This facilitates the sharing of a URL by returning the client to the state when saved.

Printing – Version 1.0 of the STEEV demonstrator does not include a print nor a save map image facility. To print (and edit) a map image created by the demonstrator use the Print Screen button on your keyboard and paste the image in to an image editing package such as PaintShop Pro. Save the map image in the image file format required (JPEG, GIF, WMF, TIF, PNG).

Model Output Value Feature Return functionality: further information about displaying model output values at the individual building level.

Data Download – further information about the raw ASCII Comma Separated Value (CSV) and Keyhole Markup Language (KML) format data file download.

Guidance notes on viewing the Policy Scenario KML files in Google Earth.

Alternatively view the ‘Using the Time Slider bar in Google Earth’ You Tube clip:

YouTube Preview Image
 September 29, 2011  Posted by at 4:09 pm General Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Sep 292011

As we move into the final phases of STEEV thoughts now turn to user testing and usability. OK, so we’ve built a visualisation tool to view time-series energy efficiency variables for a specific geographic area. But just how intuitive is the interface? How easy it is to use, for the practitioner, or for the novice user? What functionality is missing, and what is superfluous?

First step was to meet with the EDINA training officer (who has experience in conducting usability and user testing for EDINA projects and services). It was immediately apparent that work was required in terms of workflow and instruction. A detailed list of requirements has been assembled for implementation.

For the next step in this process we have approached a ‘Usability Expert’ with a view to having an overall look at the tool in terms of features and functionality in order to articulate and finesse possible ambiguities. We hope to have at the end of this process a usability guide detailing both process and outcome and make this available through the STEEV blog.

Our aim is to have conducted this exercise in time for the STEEV/GECO Green Energy Tech Workshop on on 13 October. This will allow practitioners the opportunity to use the tool in earnest whilst providing further feedback from an experts perspective.

Expect a future blog post detailing the results of the extended usability exercise.

Regarding part 2 of the title. OK, so there’s wasn’t a fit between STEEV and Memento. What does fit however, is the deployment of the Google Earth Time Slider to view the policy-based scenarios (as provided by our project partner) for each of the four modelled output over time (namely: SAP Rating, Energy, COs emissions, CO2 emissions based on 1990 levels). Our GI Analyst (Lasma Sietinsone – replacement for Fiona who’s currently on maternity leave) has created a dozen KML files which can be viewed in Google Earth using the Time Slider utility. The KML files can be downloaded from

Note: Guidance notes on viewing the KML files in Google Earth are available.

Alternatively view the ‘Using the Time Slider bar in Google Earth’ You Tube clip:

YouTube Preview Image
 September 29, 2011  Posted by at 3:27 pm General Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Sep 282011

The programme for the GECO / STEEV Green Energy Tech Workshop to be held at the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change on 13 October is now available (see URL:

Our aim was to have a full yet varied set of presentations from the academic, public and private sector around the central theme of ‘energy efficiency and the building’. Feel free to forward the Eventbrite link to colleagues. Places are limited to please be sure to sign up soon!

Please get in contact for further information:

 September 28, 2011  Posted by at 1:58 pm General Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 312011

After much discussion agreement has broken out between project partners regarding the STEEV project sub-contract (or Collaboration Agreement) between the University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University. Legalese such as ‘foreground’, ‘ownership and exploitation’, ‘liabilities’ have been unpicked, deliberated over and agreed upon. After initial confusion costs (directly incurred staff costs in addition to directly allocated and indirect costs) payable to the Welsh School of Architecture have also been settled and signatures have been signed!

Plans are afoot to organise a joint GECO ( / STEEV workshop for autumn 2011. The ‘Green Energy Tech’ event, to be held at the University of Edinburgh, aims to invite public sector, industry and academic practitioners in the area of green energy, carbon budgeting, energy efficiency and reduction, urban energy systems, renewable energy, decarbonisation, energy consumption, fuel poverty etc to discuss, share ideas and showcase tools that can appeal to a range of stakeholders. More information to follow.

The STEEV project will also be presenting at the Rantrad Future Cities 2011- International Symposium in London on 15 & 16 December 2011.

 August 31, 2011  Posted by at 6:11 pm General Tagged with: , , , , , ,  No Responses »