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:

Apr 072011

JISC Infrastructure Call 15/10: Geospatial Strand
Project Name: Spatio-Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisations (STEEV)

Directly Incurred Staff Costs

Project Manager, 25% FTE – £8,410
Software engineer, 50% FTE – £16,331
GI Analyst, 25 % FTE – £6,838
Social Media Officer, 10% FTE – £2,683
Web designer, UofE, 5% FTE – £1,602
PI/Manager, Cardiff University, 8% FTE – £4,332

Total Directly Incurred Staff (A) = £40,196

Directly Incurred Non-Staff

Travel and expenses* – £12,000
Hardware & software – £500

Total Directly Incurred Non-Staff (B) = £12,500

Total Directly Incurred Costs (C) = £52,696

Amount Requested from JISC – £74,572

Institutional Contributions – £21,665

Total Project Cost = £96,236

No. of FTEs: 1.23 over 6 individuals

* Includes allocation to Van de Sompel and colleague for project engagement, meetings and conference attendance. Note that their time and input to project is otherwise at zero-cost to JISC.

 April 7, 2011  Posted by at 5:29 pm Project Plan Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Mar 212011

This blog post provides an overview of the work that will be undertaken, and is structured into a series of interdependent work packages (WPs). They indicate the main areas of work that are being proposed. It should be noted that output from WP3 and WP4 will be shaped by the iterative nature of WP2.

The geoservices team at EDINA have recently been trialling SCRUM based approaches to Agile development. This has received positive feedback from the development teams and has also been well received by project management staff. Building on these successful experiences we would plan to adopt a SCRUM methodology in this project with a focus on short sprint and iterative
deliverable runs.

STEEV Project Gant Chart
(Note: Zoom to view)


WP 1 – Project Management and Programme Engagement

Description of Work – This work package covers all aspects of managing the project, from initiation, through managing project stages and stage transition to closure. Initiation will include the setting up of project website, blog and wiki as required, tools for managing scheduling, risks and communication. This Work Package also includes reporting and Engagement (aligned with WP5) throughout the project, including input into the Community Synthesis. This ensures the Project Manager has control of required reporting from each work package, as well as the holistic project reporting required at initiation and closure and a facility for wider dissemination of activities.


· Project website; wiki and blog
· Input into Community Synthesis.
· Programme reporting and project management documentation

WP 2 – Data Modelling, Data Preparation and Data Import

Description of Work – This WP will focus on generating the individual building-level energy efficiency estimates on an annual basis for the regional area forming the Cardiff research teams area of study. Each building (which will be mapped to an individual Ordnance Survey feature via a Topographical Object Identifier (TOID)), will have a number of estimated values based on variable parameter inputs (e.g. dimensions of the property, thermal efficiency of the building construction, the type of heating systems used, and renewable energy technologies) and these will provide the basis for generating the regional visualisations under different policy assumptions. It is these raw values that will provide the capacity to undertake subsequent sensitivity analysis investigating the regional impacts of varying input assumptions and forecasts. The modelled data will be supplied by Cardiff to EDINA for import and validation into a database schema designed to allow the establishment of temporal Web Map Services (WMS-T). WP3 and WP4 will then exploit the modelled data to provide a user client that allows interactive visual data exploration.


. A database (EEP) of building-level energy efficiency coefficients for 2000-2050 for a large sample area within South East Wales.
· A database schema for exposing the EEP model outputs via a WMS-T (see WP3)

WP 3 – Establishment of Temporal Web Map Services and Memento geo-Timegate

Description of Work – The purpose of this work is to create the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Map Services (WMS) required to support the development of the web client at WP4. The standard WMS configuration (of which EDINA has significant and relevant experience in building and operating – see e.g. OpenStream4), will need to be extended to handle the temporal aspects of incoming requests. A WMS server can provide support to temporal requests by providing a TIME parameter with a time value in the request. We will use an open source WMS implementation of the web map server technology (probably Mapserver5) in order to add temporal support. This WP will work in close conjunction with WP2 as the optimal data configuration for the EEP data will need to be iteratively determined. Once a WMS-T has been established we will then produce Tile Cached versions of the data which are capable of having a URI assigned to them. Tile Caching provides a way to constrain WMS requests to a predefined grid, so that clients can
request data that has been pre-rendered or rendered on the fly and then cached. Delivering cached map imagery can reduce image load times by as much as one or even two orders of magnitude. Rendering map imagery on the fly for every WMS request typically requires profound hardware resources to scale well and additionally by Caching we are able to use the Cached image location as a URI through which Memento mediated time requests can be resolved.

This WP also deals with developing the Memento server implementation, extending it to incorporate a ‘geo-Timegate’ that is capable of handling what may be termed ‘Web time ‘ and ‘Content time’ requests (Van de Sompel 20106). Memento proposes a technical framework aimed at better integrating the current and the past Web. The framework adds a time dimension to the HTTP protocol and introduces the notion of transparent content negotiation in the date-time dimension. The framework also suggests a generic approach for versioning Web resources that could help bootstrap a variety of novel, temporal Web applications such as is being proposed here. Memento has thus far remained in the domain of ‘Web time’, meaning it refers to the state of resources on the web as is and is logically restricted to ‘near contemporary’ resources. Content time is conceptually different and e.g. allows us to talk about the City of London in 1645 or in 2050. Memento has as yet not explored application to ‘Content time’. Therefore, another novel feature of this proposal is that it will investigate the conceptual and practical issues between ‘Web’ and ‘Content’ time views.


· A WMS delivering the EEP/OS MasterMap data visualisations;
· A WMS-T allowing temporal navigation;
· Tile Cached versions of the above allowing direct URI mapping to resources;
· A Memento geo-Timegate and proxy allowing translation of Memento requests into WMS-T ones.
· An evaluation report detailing our experiences with ‘Web’ and ‘Content’ time.

Note: After discussion Herbert van de Sompel Herbert didn’t see any purposeful use case involving STEEV and Memento which could add to the functionality of the visualisation tool. Memento can be implemented (by linking to unique or presistent URIs generated by the tool) however this will not however showcase Memento’s temporal sweep through web-content (as highlighted on BBC/CNN content) as intended by its originators (for further information see blog posting:

An additional workpackage (WP6) has been proposed in lieu of WP3.

WP 4 – Development of Web Client

Description of Work – The primary purpose of this WP is to draw the outputs from earlier WPs together into a user presentation layer. We envisage an OpenLayers based mapping client that is routed via the geo-Timegate to access the WMS-T. The job of the client is to marshal, in a user friendly manner, the various request parameters needed to allow users to stipulate queries of the sort ‘ visualise me the consequences of making assumptions X about energy efficiency policies at time Y in the geographical extent of Z’. Our client will allow access to the various modelled outputs and may also (resource permitting) allow for some form of user defined portrayal and/or annotation of the results so that stakeholders can experiment with alternative visualisations and exchange views on the presented scenarios. If resources permit we would also look to investigating how to expose the WMS-T into Google Earth directly and being able to capitalise on the use of the GE time-slider.


· A Web Client (OpenLayers based) allowing user interaction and visualisation of the modelled outputs under variable input scenarios
· Potentially, demonstration of the outputs, visualised and temporally query-able in a Google Earth client.

WP 5 – Outreach, Evaluation and Reporting

Description of Work – the purpose of this WP is initially, to crystallise the user requirement needs of the research group and stakeholder community prior to commencing development. Whilst the research problem is already specified, the intent is to have independent validation from a larger stakeholder community to ensure that deliverables meet the expectations of as wide a user community as possible. To conserve resources, this engagement will be via virtual means and will exploit social media channels. Secondly, to inform the development of the client in light of comment and feedback from end-users and interested stakeholders. We anticipate at least three distinct audiences – (i) the conventional ‘geo’ community, familiar with web mapping (but likely less familiar with temporal WMS); (ii) the growing community interested in use cases for Memento; and (iii) the specific research group (Cardiff) and the wider energy efficiency research community (RETROFIT) to whom the project is likely to have a novel appeal.


· User needs requirements/ problem and issue refinement.
· Feedback on the demonstrator and associated deliverables
· Workshop and conference attendance to elicit stakeholder feedback
· A critical appraisal of the approach from each of the three audiences listed above

WP 6 – Establishment of Small Area Data Viewer
Description of Work – the purpose of this workpackage is to implement a ‘feature return’ functionality at the polygon level as part of user presentation layer.


. A configuration file for STEEV WFS in order to query individual buildings.
. Compilation of WMS to accommodate functionality.

 March 21, 2011  Posted by at 1:52 pm Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Mar 182011

Project Team


External project partner:

Senior Research Associate, Cardiff University:  Simon Lannon (email:

Project Advisor

Digital Library Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory: Dr Herbert Van de Sompel (email: – Workpackage 3

Engagement with the Community

EDINA has an existing community consultation and briefing process as well as research relationships through various projects and presence at strategic forums reaching the broader geospatial community such as GISRUK / OSGIS which are key events for the target community envisaged for this proposal. STEEV will also engage with the Memento Development Group (via Herbert Van de Sompel and Rob Sanderson who will act as advisors to the project) and of course JISC through representation to the Geospatial Working Group and at programme engagement level.

The Cardiff University research team will be engaging with stakeholders throughout the project as part of the EPSRC RETROFIT project. In addition, the outcomes of this work will be published in academic journals for example Computers, Environment and Urban Systems and disseminated to the academic community through international conferences such as IPBSA (the International Building Performance Simulation Association) conference series. Through ongoing activities and relationships with the broader EPSRC community, this project will gain synergy and additional dissemination channels for its deliverables.

Recognising that resourcing is at a premium, we will exploit social media channels in order to engender a ‘virtual community’ – both to engage users with the project and to elicit critical feedback. This blog will provide opportunities for connecting with stakeholders, engaging in discussion and sharing appropriate specialist knowledge, ideas or developments. Guest posts to
others’ sites, virtual meetings or events and other social media channels will be used, along with traditional communications channels, (as appropriate), for connecting with the various stakeholder communities. EDINA is fortunate to have a dedicated Social Media Officer who will be utilised in this capacity (and has successfully led community engagement through social media channels for the JISC-funded AddressingHistory project).

It is envisaged that other engagement opportunities will arise throughout the period of the project (e.g. the Institute for Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh, and local practitioners) as we seek to gain feedback about the applicability of the tool.

 March 18, 2011  Posted by at 4:54 pm Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »
Mar 172011

As described in the JISC Generic Terms and Conditions of Grant, EDINA recognises that the ownership of intellectual property rights made, discovered or created during the period of project funding will be indicated to them in the letter of grant. Communicating these conditions to those involved with the project will ensure IPR issues are minimised. For project outputs including reports, JISC will be allowed to utilise, archive and disseminate the work in accordance with current JISC policy. Software produced will, as far as practicable, be open sourced in accordance with JISC OSS Watch guidelines.

Fireworks License
Image courtesy of Flickr by jcorrius (CC BY 2.0)

Energy efficiency variables generated from the EEP model are supplied by the Cardiff University without restriction. Open Layers (an open source mapping client) will be used as the basis for the user interface.

The STEEV Project Blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

 March 17, 2011  Posted by at 2:13 pm Project Plan Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Mar 082011

Image by Cambodia4kidsorg courtesy of Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Image by Cambodia4kidsorg courtesy of Flickr – CC BY 2.0

Benefits to both host and wider community include:

The Cardiff University research group will benefit by having new means to visualise and expose their data to a broader community and range of stakeholders. The EPSRC/RETROFIT participants and larger stakeholder group will benefit by improved access to the Cardiff research teams outputs and the facility to conduct critical appraisal of research outputs. Community and stakeholder interaction with the various scenarios will be explored through guided EPSRC workshops.

EDINA will benefit principally through gaining experience with temporal Web Map Services and implementation of the Memento framework. The groundwork for future temporal facilities on, for example, archival copies of the large scale Ordnance Survey database, will also help inform future directions for the Digimap services. Additionally, the groundwork will provide a prototype exemplar capable of being readily extended more broadly to existing JISC geo-infrastructure.

The Memento Development Group will benefit by the addition of a new use case – an explicitly geospatial one. Additionally, the project provides a means to explore the issues related to ‘web’ and ‘content’ time and thus provides a valuable contribution to the future development of Memento.

Overall we believe the broader community will benefit by the innovative adoption of both WMS-T and Memento. In isolation both of these technologies have specific communities to which they are of immediate interest. Taken together they provide a vehicle for innovation and also provide a means for technology exposure into ‘non-traditional’ community spaces – in the case of the ‘geo-community’ this brings Memento to the fore and in the case of Memento it provides a challenging new domain area – geospatial.