EDINA’s Geoforum 2014 was a great success with an audience of around 80 delegates and EDINA staff all enjoying an informative and entertaining programme. The aim of the event was to engage with users and support staff and highlight new features in EDINA’s core Jisc funded services.
- Keynote – Peter Gibbs, BBC and Met Office Broadcast Meteorologist: Flood Forecasting
- Data Usage – Darius Bazazi: Using EDINA Datasets in a Hydrology Project
- Support – Carol Blackwood: Geoservices Support, what’s coming and what we’ve been up to
- Service Updates – Guy McGarva: New and Enhanced features coming to Geo and Digimap Services
- Mobile – Addy Pope: Citizen Science in your Pocket (excursion)
- Final Summary – Tom Armitage
Other than this summary there are several other ways to find out what happened at this event:
- The event was live blogged and a fairly complete transcript of the presentations can be found here: Geoforum 2014 Live Blog
- All the presentations for the day can be found on SlideShare here: Geoforum 2014 Presentations
- There is a 30 minute time-lapse video of all the action here: Geoforum 2014 Timelapse
- There is a Storify of all the tweets about the conference here: Geoforum 2014 Storify
Peter Gibbs is a well known for his BBC and Met Office weather forecasts and in his presentation he showed us the work that was being done by the Met Office and Environment Agency in combining their data and resources to predict not just where there is going to be rain but where the rain is likely to cause flooding.
The slides for Peter’s talk can be viewed here:
Peter has a keen interest in improving public levels of understanding of science through better communication and this was very evident in his presentation. He managed to explain the complexities of how weather data was collected and used for forecasting in a very accessible way, leaving the audience with a much better understanding of how our weather and in particular flooding is predicted. We also got to see just how much data the met office use, up to 70 recordings at different heights for grid cells up to 1km2.
A key message implied in Peter’s talk was the critical importance of be able to create usable and appropriate information for your audience from the large amounts of complex and varied data available. This is something that as scientists we should all aspire to.
The next presentation came from a recent MSc in GIS Graduate, Darius Bazazi. The presentation followed on from the keynote nicely as it show how various datasets, some from Digimap, some from other sources, were combined to improve the science behind panning natural measures to control flooding. The slides for this presentation are available here:
The main issue tackled by Darius was to improve a key variable that decides whether an area is suitable for natural flood management, PROPWET (the proportion of time soils are wet). Darius used datasets such as the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology’s Landcover data to try and improve this value, bringing in vegetation cover and land use as factors that could influence it.
Darius’ talk showed how important the availability of data from a wide range of sources is key to research such as his. A large amount of researchers time, from graduate level upwards, can be taken up by finding and requesting / ordering data; Digimap and other geoservices from EDINA exist largely to reduce or eliminate the wait for data.
Carol Blackwood finished off the morning’s presentations with a talk about the improvements EDINA are making to the support of their geoservices. The slides for this presentation can be found here:
Carol first told us about the work under way to replace the registration system for the Digimap collections. The main piece of good news is that there will no longer be a wait between registering and accessing the service. The new system will use the familiar email confirmation link to allow access once the registration form has been filled in. This will ensure that users have speedier access and also that their email is correct for collecting their downloaded data.
Carol also highlighted a few other things we are doing to support our users and also to improve the information available for site reps to promote Digimap. Firstly there is the new live chat system that allows people to have a text chat with the user support team. The chat window can be accessed from any of the help pages or the resource centre where it appears as a pop-up:
Other resources highlighted in the presentation were:
- The Digimap YouTube Channel
- Digimap Service Demonstrations
- The service information page for definitive descriptions of the Digimap Collections
- The Digimap logos and promotional images page
- The Geo-Events page highlighting where we’ll be throughout the year
Finally Carol talked about the training offered by the Geosupport team, if you are interested in attending or hosting a training course then please get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also arrange to do some bespoke training workshops or webinars for certain subject areas.
During the lunch break we were treated to some delicious food and got to see some interesting data and software from the following people.
Most importantly we were given plenty of time to speak to others at the event, sharing ideas and thoughts on the presentations and demonstrations we had seen.
Guy McGarva brought us up-to-date with all the latest additions and enhancements made to Digimap over the past year, and then went on to highlight the improvements we will be introducing next. The slides for this presentation can be found here:
Guy showed how we are now using the results from the impact surveys and other contact with users to guide and prioritise the developments to the service. He also highlighted the huge amount of work that has gone on in the past year to the back-end architecture of the service that will make it much more reliable, maintainable and flexible going forward.
In the near future you can expect to see a new Download interface for Marine, after which will follow a similar upgrade to Historic Download including a better basket for all the downloaders, where you will be able to select data formats and dates more easily.
Have a look through the slides to see more of the upcoming improvements to the Digimap Service.
The last part of the day was a welcome trip outside in the sunshine to see how Fieldtrip GB could be used for Citizen Science projects. The slides for this presentation can be found here:
Addy Pope led the group through an exercise where a form was designed to collect data about graffiti which was then deployed to the groups smart phones and tablets. Everybody then took their devices outside and began collecting data such as photos and the type of graffiti found. The devices take care of logging the location, though the app does allow you to modify this if it isn’t quite right.
Fieldtrip GB had some glowing praise from the delegates, everyone seemed to find the it intuitive and. easy to use. A very good way to crowd source data without an expensive outlay.
A very big thank you to all those who attended Geoforum, we at EDINA feel it was a tremendously successful event.
The days presentations an exhibitions told a story, starting with the importance of geospatial data, especially to bodies of such strategic importance as the Met Office. We heard how research carried out at academic institutions was adding to the accuracy of the data and the models that use the data, and how important access to the data was in order to carry out this research.
The exhibitors showed us the next generation of data along with some of the software to process it. And finally, the presenters from EDINA showed what we are doing to improve the accessibility to the data; not just by making it available but by providing the support and training to realise its full potential.
Jisc continue to provide funding for services such as Digimap, GoGeo and Unlock which form the backbone of geospatial services available to the academic community in Great Britain. The Geoforum allows funders and service providers to engage with the user community which in turn helps focus service improvements.
A final thank you to everyone who helped make the event happen, the EDINA staff who helped organise, present and pack away all the equipment; the exhibitors; Bluesky Catering; and the staff at the Informatics Forum.