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 »
Sep 092011

Further to the earlier post, plans are progressing for a Green Energy Tech workshop organsied in conjunction with the GECO project. The half-day event will be held on Thursday 13 October (pm) at the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change, a new initiative which aims to foster collaborative working between policy, community and business leaders to support and deliver workable solutions for a low carbon future (

Our aim is to bring together a range of participants from the public sector, industry, and academia working in the areas of green energy technologies, renewables, carbon reduction, energy efficiency etc. with a primary focus on tools or utilities that could be used to engage a wide range of stakeholders including policy makers.

We have a number of confirmed speakers however we’d also be interested to hear of any other initiatives of a similar nature that may wish to use such an event as a platform for outreach and discussion.

Please get in contact for further information:

 September 9, 2011  Posted by at 11:36 am General Tagged with: , , , , ,  1 Response »
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 »
Aug 252011

Q. Mr. Spock. How many Vulcans does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Exactly 1.00000000000000.

Q. How many folk singers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. One to change the bulb, and one to write a song about how good the old light bulb was.

Q. How many administrative assistants does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None. It won’t be changed until you fill out form #3422V – the light bulb change request form.

Q. How many board meetings does it take to get a light bulb changed?
A. This topic was resumed from last week’s discussion, but is incomplete, pending resolution of some action items. It will be continued next week.

Q. How many chiropractors does it take to change a light bulb?
A. One, but it takes them three visits.

Q. How many conservative economists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None, the darkness will cause the light bulb to change by itself.

Q. How many evolutionists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Only one, but it takes eight million years.

Q. How many firemen does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Four, one to change the bulb and three to cut a hole in the roof.

Q. How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None, they merely change the standard to darkness and then they upgrade the customers.

Q. How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Two. One to screw the bulb almost all the way in, and one to give a surprising twist at the end.

Q. How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. One. He holds the bulb while the world revolves around him.

Q. How many Pentium owners does it take to change a light bulb?
A. 0.99987, but that’s close enough for most applications.

Q. How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A. 1,000,001. One to change the bulb, and 1,000,000 to rebuild civilization to the point where they need light bulbs again.

Q. How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Two, but it’s actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one’s shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence.

Q. How many social scientists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. None, they do not change light bulbs; they search for the root cause as to why the last one went out.

Q. How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Two. One always leaves in the middle of the project.

Q. How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. To get to the other side.

Q. How many visitors to the modern art gallery does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Two, one to do it and one to say “Huh! My four-year old could’ve done that!”

Q. How many Zen masters does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Two. One to change it, and one not to change it.

 August 25, 2011  Posted by at 1:22 pm General Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Aug 242011

Simon Lannon (Welsh School of Architecture) has provided the following by way of a contextual overview of the visualisation tool in development:

The simulation of the urban environment is a complex process; the EEP methodology simplifies this by using simple standard energy prediction tools, and ways of grouping houses together. The grouping of houses usually follows the type of house e.g. terraced, semi detached or detached, this is reasonable for simple problems, but when trying to predict the energy use of a detached house it could be two ends of a very large scale, from a labourers cottage to a mansion. The best way to group houses in this project is by their size and when they were built. To do this a number of common house types are surveyed, the results of these surveys are clustered together to give groups of houses with similar energy predictions.

The groups of houses are then modelled using the SAP technique to give a baseline or start point. From this baseline these groups of houses are modified to improve the energy efficiency, bolt on solar panels and take into account potential changes in the occupant’s behaviour. In this example it has been assumed the occupants might accept low inside temperatures by wearing more clothes.

The prediction of energy use for each of these modifications is undertaken then applied to each of the houses in the sample area, in this case most of the houses in Neath Port Talbot, South Wales (around 55,000).

Occupant behaviour also has an impact on whether a particular type of modification will take place. This is represented in this project by trigger points for ten year steps from 2020 to 2050, the trigger points represent this occupant behaviour year by year, and are associated with the likelihood of an occupant undertaking energy efficiency measures. The impact of energy efficiency measures is modelled by a series of trigger points that end with all the houses in the area having at least simple energy efficiency and 50% having a more expensive energy efficiency measures such as external insulation cladding.

The process of all modelling has been more complex than initially thought, perhaps with hindsight the sample should have been smaller, but the task has been completed. The task was to model 55,000 houses over 50 years in ten year steps, for 625 different scenarios, as sum total of around 172 million calculations and 9 GB of data.

 August 24, 2011  Posted by at 5:36 pm General Tagged with: , , , ,  2 Responses »
Aug 092011

Annual leave and conflicting activities have meant that the STEEV blog has been on a forced diet. I do have a couple of morcels of news which may assuage the hunger of this social media channel however…

In the middle of July we had a Skype call with Herbert Van de Sompel (Los Alamos National Laboratory) about how the Memento framework could be implemented in order to facilitate the spatio-temporal visualisation of energy variables.

As mentioned in the blog post ‘evolution of an interface’ a decision was made to use Output Areas as the spatial unit of analysis. It was our collective opinion that visualising the energy efficiency variables at house-level was too fine grained to offer any meaningful representation (even although the data supplied by the Welsh School of Architecture was provided at this level). This has implications in terms of the use of MasterMap as the large scale context mapping product* which was initially earmarked as the potential web-content upon which Memento could act. As it stands Herbert didn’t see any purposeful use case involving STEEV and Memento which would add to the functionality of the visualisation tool. Memento can be implemented (by linking to unique or presistent URIs generated by the tool) and we intend to portray this in the interface. This will not however showcase Memento’s temporal sweep through web-content (as highlighted on BBC/CNN content) as intended by its originators.

I parapharase Herbert (from correspondence) when he says:

Memento deals with web-time i.e. the state of a web resource at a given point in time. It allows one to use the HTTP URI of a web resource (say an HTML page, an image, even a database) and request a representation of the state that resource was in at the point in time that is of interest. This means, Memento looks at the Web as a “system” and can refer to and and look into the state of that system (and its constituent resources) at some point in the past.

This is a very different notion to looking at the state of some other “system”, e.g. a simulation of the real world, and checking in what state the real world was or will be at some point in “real world time” according to that simulation. In the case of STEEV, we are referring to a temporal state within the simulation. Not a temporal state of the Web.
Thus the temporal semantics involved in Memento and in STEEV are fundamentally different and that, as a result, applying Memento concepts to the latter is inappropriate.

A useful output from our conversation with Herbert however was the proposed creation of a STEEV RESTful API which would define a URI and its arguments for the determining and retrieval of a particular state. The URI arguments would represent the value of the model, each variable, the year, the map extends and the map zoom level. A mechanism would be added to the interface for saving its current state as a URI – perhaps to the clipboard, a popup or envoking an email client. Fetching the URL would return the client to the state when saved.

example URI:,203198.976,270931.968,225776.64&zoom=2

A meeting has been set up with Herbert here at EDINA for 19 September where we will discuss our implementation of the framework and other possible enhancements that have synergies with Memento or perhaps even Annotate (another utility developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory).

* The upside of using Open Layers and Open Stream as context and navigational mapping utilities is that there should be no licencing restrictions on the use of the STEEV tool.

 August 9, 2011  Posted by at 2:15 pm General Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »