Monday 29 March 2010

OS OpenSpace - free web mapping

Following on from the subject of the previous post on Ordnance Survey, I've been experimenting with their excellent new OpenSpace service, launched in January. The OS OpenSpace API is free to access and lets developers create web applications and online projects with Ordnance Survey maps.

Put simply, you can now easily make a map with OS data and put it on your website. On blogger it can be a bit tricky, but overall it's not that difficult and there are many options for customisation. The map below is just an example - it is fully interactive. I made it quickly using the web-map builder. (For those of a technical persuasion, I just pasted in some iframe code on blogger - the actual html file is on my university server.) I may do more with this in future but for the time being this is it...

Friday 26 March 2010

Ordnance Survey Data - A Revolution?

Following the news some time ago that most Ordnance Survey data (if not all - still waiting for details) is to be made available free of charge for re-use by personal and commercial users, the GI fraternity is abuzz with anticipation. I am also pretty excited about this development since it will make working with geographic data and using GIS in the United Kingdom much easier. It should also increase the number of users, as SalfordGIS point out.

The current understanding is that from April 1, 2010 several OS datasets (e.g. 1:50,000 colour raster) will be made freely available. What are the implications of this? Just some thoughts...
  • Anyone will be able to download and print original OS maps, free of charge
  • Anyone will be able to use OS data to derive new maps - previously this was forbidden
  • GIS users will use data in new and innovative ways
  • GIS consultants will increase in number
  • In general, many good things will happen and geographic knowledge will increase

Much more will be written on this in the media in the coming weeks and there is no doubt it is an exciting time if you are in any way involved in the world of geographic information in the United Kingdom.

The future is full of possibilities!

Saturday 13 March 2010

NSNR Final Evaluation

Just over a week ago (4th March 2010), the final evaluations of two major English urban policy initiatives were published by CLG. One of these was the New Deal for Communities (NDC) final assessment - the other was the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal (NSNR) final report. This short post is about the latter document, which contains 119 pages in all.

The NSNR was launched in 2001 with the notion that "within 10 to 20 years no-one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live" - a very noble (unrealistic?) goal. The report itself covers the following, in some detail:
  • the nature of deprived neighbourhoods;
  • change in deprived areas;
  • factors influencing change in deprived neighbourhoods;
  • the impact of NSNR on deprived neighbourhoods;
  • the effectiveness of NSNR arrangements; and
  • lessons for the future.
With all such evaluations, however, the real issue is not the evaluation itself but the wider context within which the programme operates. It has been said that the most effective anti-poverty strategy is economic growth and in many ways this is true, but even in a period of sustained growth (e.g. 1997 to 2007) what we have seen is a deepening of concentrated deprivation in many cities, though there have been some successes. So, on p. 80 we have "overall value for money appeared to be good for the majority of the interventions" and on p. 112 a more engouraging statement: "in terms of value for money, NRF appears to have performed well – demonstrably so with regard to reducing worklessness in particular"

Some earlier work I was involved in at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies is reported from p. 18 to 21 and there are many other interesting results, data and maps. The report also makes a very kind acknowledgement of my input!

Sunday 7 March 2010

Visualising London Population Growth

Update, 7 June 2011 - See bottom of post for a new animation...

Following the theme of the last post - and the last series of posts with video content and animations, this is a short post on the development of London's population, by Borough, from 1801 to 2001. The data is, of course, Crown Copyright - and I downloaded the files from here, in case you want to know. There are a lot of data here, so how to make sense of it? First of all, an animated bar chart sequence, with the original 1963 Inner London Boroughs (i.e. not the ONS definition) in red and the Outer London Boroughs in blue...

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You can see it in full size here, to enable reading of label names.

The next experiment in visualizing this data was to convert it into a Google motion chart. The results of this are shown below. You can start the graphics by hitting the play button and you can query them by hovering over any of the coloured bubbles. To label a bubble, just click it. It's a bit small here but this is just for illustration. Experiment with the tabs at the top of the initial chart to see the data in a different format. There's lots of options for experimenting here...

Finally, a view of what all this looks like spatially, in 3D.

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As for the data itself, you can discover a lot from these visualizations, but the high point in population for a London Borough was Tower Hamlets in 1901, with 597,000 and the low point was in Brent with 2,000 in 1801 and 1811.

Postscript, 7 June 2011. I've since done a proper London animation for the Centre for Cities. A small version is shown below. For the full version, check this link.

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