Saturday, 27 February 2010


Following on from the previous post, I dug out some of my previous work, did a bit of experimenting, editing and touching-up to produce some new geovisualizations. I believe that geovizualisation is about more than just making pretty maps - it is about communicating a lot of spatial data in an effective way, which could not otherwise be easily digested.

In short, geovisualization is part spatial data analysis, part graphic design, part art. In this post, I've tried to use a combination of techniques in order to produce the set of images below. The data displayed is commuting for wards in North West England in 2001. I used a GIS to create the raster images and convert them to 3D, I used some image editing tools to add labels, and I used some more advanced techniques for the colour/grey background focus ones.

Click on the individual images to view in full size at best resolution - the smaller versions below are not super high quality. Areas with high red spikes = areas of high in-commuting and blue = areas of high out-commuting. In effect, the red areas are where people work and the blue areas are where people live, though in reality there is of course some overlap.

Image 1 - Commuting in NW England, 2001

Image 2 - Same image as above, but with labels

Image 3 - Same image, with different colours

Image 4 - More colour experimentation

Image 5 - Colour focus area for Manchester

Image 6 - Colour focus area for Liverpool

Friday, 26 February 2010

dataviz - Improving data visualisation for the public sector

The topic of today's post is dataviz, a new website devoted to improving data visualisation - specifically focused on the public sector. It's a joint initiative between CLG and OCSI and is really quite an attractive new website with lots of interesting visualisation examples, including Time magazine's population density spike map.

There's a CLG pdf document about this new development here, and it explains all the 'what', 'why' and 'how' questions about the project. Finally, the gallery of examples is definitely worth a look...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Journal Rankings from Australia

A lot has been written (e.g. see this) about the RAE, so this is not the focus of this post. Instead, this post is about journal rankings. The link here is that the eqivalent exercise in Australia (Excellence in Research for Australia, or ERA) has produced a ranked list of journals to be used in assessing academic outputs. Clearly, this is contentious and controversial and it has heated up exchanges in e-mail lists worldwide. It has also been written about in the mainstream press.

First, though, where can we find these rankings? Click here to find them, and click on the next link to download the Excel spreadsheet with all the data.

In many nations, academics are assessed on the basis of their research outputs. Here in the UK, this was previously done using the Research Assessment Exercise and will next be done via the Research Excellence Framework, in 2012.

Journals are ranked on a four-point scale: A*, A, B and C. Clearly, this is not good news for C-ranked journals or, in fact, most B-ranked journals. Even some of the A-ranked journals can't be happy about this. However, I'm sure the A*-ranked journals are happy. But, what on earth do these tiers mean? The associated web page is here, but this is the gist of it:

  • A* - Typically an A* journal would be one of the best in its field or subfield in which to publish and would typically cover the entire field/subfield. Virtually all papers they publish will be of a very high quality. These are journals where most of the work is important (it will really shape the field) and where researchers boast about getting accepted. Acceptance rates would typically be low and the editorial board would be dominated by field leaders, including many from top institutions.
  • A - The majority of papers in a Tier A journal will be of very high quality. Publishing in an A journal would enhance the author’s standing, showing they have real engagement with the global research community and that they have something to say about problems of some significance. Typical signs of an A journal are lowish acceptance rates and an editorial board which includes a reasonable fraction of well known researchers from top institutions.
  • B - Tier B covers journals with a solid, though not outstanding, reputation. Generally, in a Tier B journal, one would expect only a few papers of very high quality. They are often important outlets for the work of PhD students and early career researchers. Typical examples would be regional journals with high acceptance rates, and editorial boards that have few leading researchers from top international institutions.
  • C - Tier C includes quality, peer reviewed, journals that do not meet the criteria of the higher tiers.

In the field that I mainly work in, and journal types I would submit journal articles to (urban and regional planning, human geography), how does this translate?

Well, here are some examples of journals by ranking tier:

  • A* - Urban Studies, Regional Studies, Town Planning Review, Environment and Planning B, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Planning Literaure, Progress in Planning...
  • A - Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Housing Studies, European Planning Studies, Environment and Planning A, International Planning Studies, Cities, Environment and Planning D, Planning Theory and Practice...
  • B - Area, Australian Geographer, Geoforum, Spatial Economic Analysis, Space and Polity, Professional Geographer, Australian Planner, GeoJournal...
  • C - Applied Geography, Journal of Geography, Critical Planning, Scottish Geographical Journal, Global Built Environment Review, Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal...
Should we be worried? Probably, though some of this is country-specific and many journal ranks would change if this exercise was carried out in other countries. However, a precedent has been set... (and I didn't even mention the conference rankings!)

Friday, 19 February 2010

Fly to in Google Earth

Another video post today. Some time ago I was experimenting with the latest update of Google Earth, which at the time was (and still is) version 5. The 'Fly to' function allows you to enter a place name, address or other geographic identifier and when you hit search Google Earth flies there. There's a short video on this on the Google Earth pages.

I find these kinds of tools very useful for teaching and helping students think about spaces and places, though not usually at the global level. There is now even a Flight Simulator in Google Earth, one based on a jet and one based on a slower aircraft - lots of fun, but not totally relevant for teaching planning students...

The short video below starts includes the places I've lived in and/or worked in since I was born and ends at the University of Sheffield, where I currently work.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

London Commuting Surface in 3D

I've moved on from some of my original flow mapping work of 2008/09 and am now working on different kinds of things. However, I came across some interesting work on geovisualisation at The University of Manchester Geospatial blog which made me want to revisit previous work.

In particular, the reference to a short population density animation caught my attention.

In short, I have experimented with 3D animated geovisualisations - in this instance it is of my London flow surface and flow lines using commuting data. There's a short video below (it may take a moment or two to load - it's a large file).