Jun 202011

Following our successful meeting with Simon Lannon from the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University here are our first iterations of the user interface to the energy efficiency visualisation tool.

Our initial discussions regarding the user interface has separated out the policy scenarios from the ‘user generated’ interface features and options. Our first whiteboard draft (as captured by Fiona on her iPhone) is as follows:

Rough sketch of proposed STEEV tool user interface

Using Balsamiq this was tweaked to provide us with an interim overview (much disliked by graphic designers I’ve heard!) as below:

Further iteration of STEEV tool user interface using Balsamiq

Prior to handing over the interface to our software engineer (George Hamilton) our graphic designer mocked up the interface complete with EDINA/JISC branding. This will form the basis for which George will link into the back-end and his ideas for incorporating Memento functionality:

Mock-up of STEEV tool user interface

Over the coming weeks Simon will supply us with the raw data and text for the pre-defined policy scenarios (these will be ones that fit in with the Government’s described scenarios) as well as a simple description of the modelling process. We’ll be aiming to provide full metadata explaining all variables and scenarios (most probably via PDF, pop-up, or separate web page). The map window will have a number of different overlays to choose from representing different outputs from the energy efficiency model. Each output will be associated with several decades (1990-2050) allowing the user the option to ‘move through time’. How this is represented has yet to be decided (radio buttons, slider, dial etc). We’re also considering the option of including a facility to download an ASCII version of the output data dependent upon the model/scenario run. This may be useful should the tool be scalable to incorporate and deliver energy variables for the whole country.

A decision was made to expand the sample area to include all 55,000 properties in the sample area. Our initial ideas of visualisation at the ‘house-level’ however may not be realistic due the spatial granulaity being too fine for any meaningful representation of energy efficiency. Our thoughts are now turning to the use of Output Areas (a postcode-based geographic unit of approx. 125 households, used in the population census for statistical reporting – http://www.statistics.gov.uk/geography/census_geog.asp) as the mechanism through which we can thematically represent the energy variables with accuracy and meaning. Digressing from the use of TOIDs and MasterMap (i.e. the individual house) may have ramifications in terms of how we approach our interface with Memento and will require further thought.

 June 20, 2011  Posted by at 12:57 pm General 2 Responses »
Jun 012011

Tomorrow marks the visit of Simon Lannon, Senior Research Associate at the Welsh Scool of Architecture, Cardiff University. This follows the joint-drafting of the STEEV client-side web application functional specification and delivery of energy efficiency variables complete with policy scenarios (decarbonisations of the electricity supply & removal of gas from homes, and business as usual). Both datasets incorporate energy improvements and renewable technologies. There is much to discuss in terms of spatial referencing (TOID versus centroid), licencing issues (with respect to the OS Mastermap data and the street address files used licenced from the Post Office?), and the data schema and transfer. The CHEST-OS Licence is due to be reviewed and updated in August of this year and this may well have (positive) implications for delivery of licenced content over the internet.

The current OS licence agreement states:

“Open Access Services” means services provided by a Datacentre to other academic services and development projects allowing access through an In-Line Service to Existing Digital Maps and Digital Maps without Secure Authentication. Open Access Services include, but are not limited to, Go-Geo!, GeoXwalk and e-MapScholar.


An In-line service is defined as
““In-Line Service” means a set of functions, provided by a Datacentre, that controls access and execution of operations for the exchange of geo-spatial data and maps over the internet with other academic services and development projects. Requests and responses are structured according to ISO Standard 19119 or any other industry standards and enabled by a class of software known as middleware.

Our understanding is that the STEEV visualisation tool (as an In-Line Service) may allow us to use and display derived OS content over the internet without Secure Authentication (bearing in mind the actual geometries are neither available nor obtainable) as context mapping. This will have a positive bearing in terms of providing access to the tool for proposed demonstration purposes at RETROFIT50 and related workshops later in the project.

Our trusty GIS Analyst (Fiona) has also been experimenting with visualisation techniques such as heat maps (scoping the use of Acidmaps – http://acidmaps.org/ and the graduated colours/symbols functionality within ArcMap). Our initial thinking was that should there be licencing issues then an open tool could be built in parallel using open mapping products to visualise the energy efficiency variables however the fine spatial granularity of the said variables renders such an approach inappropriate. Ho Hum. Back to that particular drawing board!

 June 1, 2011  Posted by at 5:50 pm General Tagged with: , ,  1 Response »
May 172011

GECO is a JISC-funded (and STEEV’s parent!) project which aims to foster a community(ies) of users of geospatial resources (data, services, support) by:
• fostering self-help within identifiable communities of interest that emerge form the recent JISC geospatial funding call;
• increasing the use of geospatial tools, infrastructure (data and services) and information for the wider benefit of the teaching, learning and research communities;
• collating exemplars of use and to establish a trajectory for the future embedding of geospatial resources within research, teaching and learning landscapes;
• identifying and promoting best practice (such as standards, interoperability, machine interfaces) and to provide a means for knowledge transfer from specialist to less spatially literate users and domains;
• assisting with the maturation of the UK academic Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and ensure that location (space/geography) is championed across sectoral domains.
• raising awareness of INSPIRE, ensuring that the sector is cognisant of the obligations and opportunities that this gives rise to.
• promoting good data management principles, including data curation and stewardship ensuring transparency and reuse where practicable.

For further information including details of the JISC-funded geospatial projects under the oversight of GECO at EDINA [geco.blogs.edina.ac.uk] download the GECO publicity leaflet

May 052011

In response to the ‘Climategate‘ controversy (direct or otherwise) where a server that constructs various global temperature and precipitation analyses was breached at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project aims to resolve current criticism of former temperature analyses, and to prepare an open record that will allow rapid response to further criticism or suggestions. Their results will include not only best estimate for the global temperature change, but estimates of the uncertainties in the record.

The objectives of the project are:

1. To merge existing surface station temperature data sets into a new comprehensive raw data set with a common format that could be used for weather and climate research
2. To review existing temperature processing algorithms for averaging, homogenization, and error analysis to understand both their advantages and their limitations
3. To develop new approaches and alternative statistical methods that may be able to effectively remove some of the limitations present in existing algorithms
4. To create and publish a new global surface temperature record and associated uncertainty analysis
5. To provide an open platform for further analysis by publishing our complete data and software code as well as tools to aid both professional and amateur exploration of the data

For further information visit: http://www.berkeleyearth.org/

 May 5, 2011  Posted by at 3:46 pm General Tagged with:  No Responses »
Apr 282011

Ha! Gotcha! However since you’re here here’s an update on what the STEEV project’s been up to. On Tuesday 26 April Fiona and I held a Skype telecon with Simon at Cardiff University. Simon demonstrated the background to the energy efficiency model and explained the construction of the building clusters which assigns each building (houses) into a particular cluster or category according to a number of criteria including building dimensions, fabric performance, appliances, solar gain, space heating etc.

As a result of our discussion the Cardiff team are revisiting issues relating to the raw building data and the subsequent clusters with a view to developing a simpler modelling technique which would allow different fuel scenarios to be modelled more quickly. As part of this exercise we have established that a functional specification is required pertaining to the visualisation tool detailing purpose, scope, objectives, database structure, GUI, internal and external interfaces etc.  The formalisation of this aspect will offer clarity on both utility and content delivery.

As an aside there’s an interesting and interactive web tool hosted by Department of Energy and Climate Change, Sciencewise-ERC and Delib. Basically it’s a modelling tool for the general public to play around with to try and get carbon emissions below 20% of 1990 levels by 2050…

2050 Web tool – http://my2050.decc.gov.uk/

 April 28, 2011  Posted by at 6:22 pm General Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »
Apr 072011

Right, went to the doctors and guess what, they actually had something interesting to read in the waiting room. I could make up a story about how it was the Guardian and that I read about how established economies have large – but declining – carbon emissions. While the new economic giants are growing rapidly. But we all know that isn’t true (the bit about finding a copy of the Guardian in the Doctor’s surgery) – just like global warming isn’t true, right?!

Carbon emissions image of smoking chimney
(image by Liz|Populational courtesy of Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

Anyway, some 2009 World Carbon emissions data culled from the Guardian highlighting the potential for dubiety in statistical reporting:

On pure emissions alone, the key points are:

• China emits more CO2 than the US and Canada put together – up by 171% since the year 2000
• The US has had declining CO2 for two years running, the last time the US had declining CO2 for 3 years running was in the 1980s
• The UK is down one place to tenth on the list, 8% on the year. The country is now behind Iran, South Korea, Japan and Germany
• India is now the world’s third biggest emitter of CO2 – pushing Russia into fourth place
• The biggest decrease from 2008-2009 is Ukraine – down 28%. The biggest increase is the Cook Islands – up 66.7%

However that is only one way to look at the data – and it doesn’t take account of how many people live in each country. If you look at per capita emissions, a different picture emerges where:

• Some of the world’s smallest countries and islands emit the most per person – the highest being Gibraltar with 152 tonnes per person
• The US is still number one in terms of per capita emissions among the big economies – with 18 tonnes emitted per person
• China, by contrast, emits under six tonnes per person, India only 1.38
• For comparison, the whole world emits 4.49 tonnes per person

Futher details are available from the Guardian’s DataBlog article:

Project-wise, we’ve modelled sample data via the STEEV Mapping Demonstrator (previous blog post). We’re arranging for Steve Lannon (Welsh School of Architectire, Cardiff University) to demonstrate the EEP model in order for project staff to gain a familiarity with the processes and energy efficiency variables generated which will feedback into back-end data storage and modelling. Steve then aims to run the model, apply policy scenarios and deliver further tranches of variables with which we can then fine tune WMS-T aspects. We intend to get this work under way in next couple of weeks (bearing in mind the Easter break) so watch this space as they say!

By the way, the interesting read in the doctor’s surgery was an old Oor Wullie book – as commonplace as some religious texts in working class Scottish households!

 April 7, 2011  Posted by at 5:38 pm General Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Apr 012011

Dr Fiona Hemsley-Flint, the STEEV GI Analyst, has imported the sample energy efficiency data provided by the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University into a Postgres database where the full dataset will eventually be stored.

A mapserver/openlayers based mapping example has been set up and implements the WMS-Time querying capabilities (this is the capability of a web map server to accept temporal data requests – see http://mapserver.org/ogc/wms_time.html for further specification). Although this is only a basic example, it shows that it is possible to use the WMS-T successfully.

As an aside, it was also interesting to note the difference in performance between PostGIS and Shapefiles when querying the data through WMS-T – PostGIS had a much faster response time.

The test variable in this case is SAP rating. An energy performance measure (where 1 is very poor and 120 is excellent) similar to the Energy Performance Certificate used to assess domestic properties in England and Wales –  

STEEV project energy efficiency map of SAP ratings for an area of South Wales

[Caption: 1:10,000 scale map of an area of South Wales – domestic SAP ratings for 1990 at individual dwelling level]

STEEV project energy efficiency map of SAP ratings for an area of South Wales

[Caption: 1:3,500 scale map of an area of South Wales – domestic SAP ratings for 2000 at individual dwelling level]

Further sample data are to be provided in the coming week or so.


 April 1, 2011  Posted by at 3:13 pm General 2 Responses »
Mar 172011

The project manager will be attending Innovation takeaway – lessons from the Information Environment INF11 Programme Meeting  on 7 April 2011 at Aston University, Birmingham.

This event will provide an opportunity to reflect on major lessons and how these can be applied to challenging institutional issues such as how to reduce or avoid costs in managing digital assets, how local innovators can benefit the institution, and how institutions can realise the value of an ‘open’ approach.

 March 17, 2011  Posted by at 3:09 pm General No Responses »