Sunday 31 May 2009

In Shock

I'm still reeling from the recent discovery (thanks to the legendary Ed Ferrari), that our trusty friend SPSS is no more. It has been 're-branded' with an even catchier title that just rolls off the tongue...

Yes, that's right, it is now called PASW. That is Predictive Analytics Software - surely this should be PAS. The main problem I have with this is the name - should we pronounce it 'pazwuh'?. I've been looking at their re-branding spin and it appears this change was simply 'essential'. However, the numbering has continued so this is PASW 17, with screencast demos available here.

Of course, this must all come as a bit of an annoyance to Andy Field (or an excuse for a new edition) and his excellent textbook on SPSS/PASW. Actually, I've just noticed that despite the name of the book, it has been 'fully updated with PASW Statistics 17'.

And so ends the most unnecessary blog post ever.

Saturday 30 May 2009

City Futures '09 in Madrid

I'm off to Madrid on Wednesday for the City Futures '09 conference, hosted by the European Urban Research Association (EURA) and the US-based Urban Affairs Association (UAA). I'm looking forward to the event and to seeing Madrid (but not the heat), pero mi espaƱol es no bueno! The variety of papers and presenters is quite an exciting prospect, and the conference is organised according to several themes, as below:

  • Climate change, resource use, and urban adaptation. How sustainable are modern cities? What policies are being introduced to tackle climate change

  • Knowledge and technology in urban development. How are cities harnessing knowledge and technology to increase the quality of life for their citizens? Whither local economic development in a rapidly changing world?

  • Community development, migration and integration in urban areas. How are cities coping with rapid population movements – both into and out of cities? What are the implications for housing, urban regeneration and community building of international population shifts?

  • Urban governance and city planning in an international era. Sound city governance and urban planning†are critical to urban success. What are the implications of current trends for political and managerial leadership? How should cities position themselves internationally? [I'm doing a paper here]

  • Architecture and the design of the public realm. The quality of architecture and urban design affects the quality of life in cities. What innovations are taking place in urban design and planning at street level? Are cities redesigning themselves to cope with new challenges relating to, for example, public safety?

  • View Larger Map

    I didn't manage to make the 2008 conference in Milan, but did go to the 2007 version in Glasgow where I presented work on migration and neighbourhood change with Kitty Lymperopoulou. In Madrid, I'm talking about area-based urban policies and the complications of this kind of spatial targeting. For more on Spanish urban policy, as opposed to urban policy being discussed in Spain, the European Urban Knowledge Network is a good place to start.

    Wednesday 27 May 2009

    Awareness Test

    I've been pretty busy with lots of things recently, such as marking student work, getting ready for conferences (e.g. City Futures '09 in Madrid) and trying to do more screen recording - though this has involved lots of testing and experimentation with audio codecs. I've also been writing about area-based interventions in urban areas and monitoring spatial planning outcomes as a follow up to previous work. Lots going on but not much useful blogging, so I thought I'd post this video since it reminds me that in paying attention to the details you can often miss the moonwalking bear. Hopefully I don't miss any of these in my work... Take a look at the video to understand.

    Saturday 9 May 2009

    Sustainable Communities in Manchester

    A new piece of work has recently been published by the Manchester Independent Economic Review (MIER), a Commission set up to provide an evidence-base for decision making in the Manchester city region (MCR). The publication is called 'Sustainable Communities' and is an overview of deprivation and neighbourhoods in MCR. Some of the material is related to work I was involved in during my time at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies in Manchester and I still have an interest in what's going on there. Changes in neighbourhoods in many parts of MCR have been good, but the performance varies across the different areas.

    Since I'm doing some work on indicators and spatial policy monitoring at the moment, I thought I'd do a short post on this topic. In particular, I wanted to explore the changes in the percent of people in each Greater Manchester district (Bolton, Bury, Oldham, etc...) who live in areas ranked among the 10% most deprived nationally between the Indices of Deprivation from 2004 and 2007. In actual fact, of course, the IMD2004 is based mainly on data from 2001 and the IMD2007 on data from 2005 - so the comparison here is really between conditions in 2001 and 2005. Nonetheless, I wanted to see how things had changed.

    I linked the population in each lower layer super output area (LSOA) to the IMD data for each area and then added up the population in each district that fell within the most deprived 10% nationally (i.e. ranked from 1 to 3,248). The results are provided in the chart below, followed by some comments. [Quick explanation: for example, Trafford now has around 2% less of it's population living in areas classified as amongst the 10% most deprived in England - this ought to mean things are getting better - very crudely speaking]

    As you can see, the population of Manchester within the 10% most deprived nationally (England) has fallen by around 8%. This is the most obvious change. Falls were also evident in Bury, Salford, Trafford and Wigan. In contrast, Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Tameside (marginal) saw a rise in the population ranked amongst the 10% most deprived nationally.

    Notwithstanding such issues as the ecological fallacy and questions about the validity of such indices in the first place - the changes are very interesting - particularly when we begin to ask questions about how these changes have occurred. Has it been because of household mobility, increased prosperity, or another reason? That's for someone else to answer. For now, I'll just finish by adding this chart on population changes between 2001 and 2005 - it makes an interesting comparison (has the increase in Manchester's population between 2001 and 2005 been a process of displacement of less well off people by more affluent people? maybe).