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 »
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 – 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 [] 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:

 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 –

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