RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

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358 Data, GIS and technology
Chair(s) Alex Nobajas (Keele University, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Mapping the Archive: Using Historical Hunting Records to Map the Presence of Otters in England
Daniel Allen (Keele University, UK)
Alex Nobajas (Keele University, UK)
In England, the otter has become known as a symbol of survival; a species once persecuted, threatened with extinction now legally protected and seemingly thriving in the wild (Matless, Merchant, Watkins 2006; Allen, 2010; Syse, 2013). The increasing presence of otters on our waterways has been recorded and mapped over the last 40 years. The first national otter survey of England was carried out in 1977-79 (Lenton et al., 1980); repeated in 1984-86 (Strachan et al., 1990), 1991-94 (Strachan and Jefferies, 1996), 2000-02 (Crawford, 2003), and, 2009-2010 (Crawford, 2010). Despite detailed records of otter sightings being kept by Otter Hunts since the late nineteenth century (as 'finds' and 'kills'); conservationists have excluded historical hunting knowledge (Allen, 2010; 2013). As a result, the geographies of past otter presence in England remain hidden, and recent otter surveys lack historical context. According to Allen (2013, p.139), 'The cultural history of the hunted otter … should not be excluded from present day conservationist debates.' This paper combines archival hunting records and GIS to map the presence of otters in England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Geography, languages and Twitter; the Iberian case
Alex Nobajas (Keele University, UK)
Traditionally, the usage of different languages in the Iberian Peninsula has been quantified by performing surveys or by analysing indirect data such as book sales or television audiences. However, with the popularisation of social networks, a substantial proportion of the population are sharing all kinds of data on the internet, including textual data which can be downloaded and used by researchers to assess linguistic questions. By using this new data source, many researchers have seen an opportunity to obtain vast quantities of data which would be otherwise unimaginable if they were to be gathered using traditional data collection systems, such as surveys or interviews. Moreover, it is possible to obtain geographical and linguistic information which can be used by sociolinguists and language geographers to study how speakers of bilingual areas behave when expressing themselves online and analyse the social, geographical and linguistic characteristics of each area. In this communication, by using the Iberian case study, the issues and opportunities of using Twitter as a geolinguistic data source such as data validity, user demographics, language detection systems or geocoding are explored and explained in order to assess its validity.
Positioning the Urban within Innovation and Research Policy
Nick Taylor-Buck (The University of Sheffield, UK)
Aidan While (The University of Sheffield, UK)
The technological vision of smart urbanism has been promoted as a silver bullet for urban problems and a major market opportunity. The search is on for firms and governments to find effective and transferable demonstrations of advanced urban technology. This paper examines initiatives by the UK national government to facilitate urban technological innovation through a range of strategies, particularly the TSB Future Cities Demonstrator Competition. This case study is used to explore opportunities and tensions in the practical realisation of the smart city imaginary. Tensions are shown to be partly about the conjectural nature of the smart city debate. Attention is also drawn to weakened capacity of urban governments to control their infrastructural destiny and also constraints on the ability of the public and private sectors to innovate. The paper contributes to smart city debates by providing further evidence of the difficulties in substantiating the smart city imaginary.
The impact of integrating nexus thinking and global communications
Inna Kovtunyk (Kamyanets-Podilsky National University, Ukraine)
The impact of communications on life in the twenty first century cannot be overstated. It seems incredible that in 1805, not really so long ago, it took sixteen days for the Admiralty in London to be informed of the British naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Satellite, computer, mobile telecommunications, and advances in information technology, has made possible the collection and transfer of information and, therefore, knowledge across the globe. It is at the core of instant messaging services and social media sites. It enables the immediate dissemination of information to millions across the planet. This technology has unlocked a veritable gold mine of geographical information that can be assessed, analyzed, and then distributed to interested parties. Meteorological satellites can see and monitor energy flows, boundaries of ocean currents, fires, pollution. Environmental satellites can detect changes in sea state, ice fields, Earth's vegetation. The demand for energy is set to double, and demand for water and food is set to increase by more than 50 % in the next 35 years. There is an urgent need to find and develop sustainable inexhaustible and renewable energy, including hydropower, solar and wind energy, bioenergy. Nexus thinking is a recognition that any solution for one problem, for example energy (one of the energy – water – food nexus components which are the world's three most precious resources), must equally consider the other two in the nexus. None of this will be achieved without significant use and development of infrastructure networks, both ICT and transport, which are inextricably linked with it. The capture and evaluation of data, and the huge effort in research and development, will become the keystone in our drive to find solutions to our increasingly demanding needs. If we apply communications at our disposal effectively, we have good reason to feel positive.
Invisible Cities! Public information, social networks and the material impact of urban data
Dermott McMeel (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
In this article I will explore the potentials and challenges for the collection and manipulation of disparate public data on the urban environment. Focusing on sources of contextual, behavioural and amenity and its usage, before unpacking questions about the material impact of digital data on the built environment. Considerable information on the physical attributes of the built environment have been available digitally for some time. Currently a surge in fitness tracking wearable computing and software applications like Strava and MapMyRide provide additional layers of highly granular data. This reveals insights into human behaviour and social networks as they dynamically unfold within the built environment. Although these datasets are highly fragmented – obscuring the possibility for an alternative understanding – through original research I demonstrate how data can be mined and combined to offer alternative readings of place. By stepping through a series of theoretical frameworks – Heidegger's dwelling, DeCerteau's occupancy and Alexander's pattern language – I unpack the existing underlying binary representation of data as tables and space as diagrams and argue the problematic of combining highly dynamic geospatial data with statics graphical abstraction. I argue that computational intelligence in combination with digital data can progress discourse by offering new alternative representations not possible with traditional tabulations, abstractions and diagrams. I conclude with examples of my own research, which involves using open source hardware and software to mine public infrastructure, utility and fitness data to provide alternative interpretations of place and a nexus for new understanding. Ultimately the research raises questions about the politics of data and its material affect.
The world addressed with 3 words
Chris Sheldrick (what3words)
Geographical information is fundamental business tool and essential for personal and social life. A simple way to communicate location is essential to unleash its full potential for everyone. But street addressing is irregular and incomplete; finding a specific location and communicating it to others is still a very imperfect science. Whilst coordinates work well for many GIS professionals, they are error-prone and badly understood by non-technical users, which prohibits their more widespread use. what3words is an addressing and location reference system based on a global grid of 57 trillion squares of 3mx3m; each square has a unique pre-assigned 3 word address. It means that everyone and everywhere now has a simple address.