Dec 202011
 

Its a bit early to be making predictions about how IGIBS might evolve, but a recent presentation to the EDINA geoteam followed by some discussion indicated some of the possibilities.

  • The WMS Factory Tool.  With the simple but effective styling capability that Michael Koutroumpas engineered, I think we have a prototype thats not too far off a production strength tool.  There are loads of scenarios where its valuable to have access to a tool that makes it easy to see your “non-interoperable” data alongside the growing number of INSPIRE View Services (read WMS) from public authorities across Europe going online.  So top of my list is improving this tools styling capability.
  • Associated with this would be better understanding of necessary data publication infrastructure, eg, making it easy to use the other OGC Web Services.  Something like the GEOSS Service Factory ideas emerging from the EuroGEOSS project.  I think there is a real demand for tools to make it easy to use the OGC standards.
  • In the immediate future, I think its likely that the IGIBS team will do some promotion of the project outputs, eg:
    • presenting the project at relevant events, eg, Association GI Laboratories Europe conference, OGC Technical Committee meetings.  This might cost as little as £500 depending on where the event is.
    • use of social media to promote both the WMS Factory Tool and the report on “Best Practice Interaction with the UK Academic Spatial Data Infrastructure”.  This too could cost as little as an additional £500.
  • The latter report is worthy of a lot more investment.  A major output from this project, possibly the single most important output, is the increase in use of UK academic SDI services within the Institute of Geography and Earth Science (IGES) at Aberystwyth University.  IGES is acting as an exemplar for best practice research data management around geospatial data, the department is actively building on the IGIBS work and it will be interesting to see how it develops and if other departments in other institutions see the benefit and start to emulate what Aberystwyth is doing.  More work promoting Steve Walsh’s report would help.
 Posted by at 21:19 Project Management Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on IGIBS Followon and use of Underspend
Oct 102011
 

After some fantastic help from James Reid at EDINA we thought to put together a blog post summarising some of the conclusions we have come to over INSPIRE.

At this stage it may be  worth having a look at my earlier but less informed post regarding INSPIRE to understand how my understanding of the issues has progressed.

For INSPIRE to be something that universities need to spend time and money complying with, then there are several questions needing an answer. We are not in a position to answer all of them with 100% certainty but with the help of James here are some conclusions we have come to.

1. Are universities  “public bodies” or more accurately public authorities? This appears to be one area that the fog has lifted from. The INSPIRE Regulations will only apply to public authorities and James has taken the trouble to check out this area with Edinburgh  and is certain that universities are public authorities for the purposes of INSPIRE.  So one “Yes” to INSPIRE

2. Do universities hold and control datasets that match the data described in any of the INSPIRE data Annexes? After looking through the datasets collected for the IBIBS project I have found 11 (or about 5% of them) that match up with some of the data themes in Annex iii. The IGIBS data is probably not  representative  of the total extent of data held by Aberystwyth University and a data inventory of data held by some of  the academic staff would be needed to quantify the amount of INSPIRE data held.  So another “Yes” to INSPIRE

3. What is the public task of a university?  Here is where the situation becomes less clear.  There appears to be no public task defined for universities. The problem seems to stem from the fact the universities are not covered by the PSI Regulations and therefore have not needed to define a public task for themselves.  Again James has made some progress on this and pointed to a publication from the National Archives that helps explain the process 0f defining a body’s public task.  There has also been some slightly ambiguous advice from the Scottish Information Commissioner that includes a suggestion that it may be relevant for a university to seek legal advice over the  issue. So there seems to be no clear answer to this question. A case of  “we dont know yet”

4. Do those data identified in 2 above relate to the public task of the university? Again until we know the answer to 3 above  we can only guess at the answer to this question. Commonsense suggests that research and teaching must be part of the task if it is ever defined. So my guess would be a “probable Yes”

5. Will there be any attempt to enforce the regulations? Again no way of knowing the answer to this and it may even involve some judicial intervention to clarify the situation. Strictly speaking if Universities are public authorities for the purposes of the INSPIRE Regulations then they are already not complying with INSPIRE as they have not established a complaints procedure to deal with questions over INSPIRE data provision as required by the Regulations. So currently a “NO” but with the uncertainty surrounding public task it could be a complicated or impossible job to enforce this regulation at present. So this will have to be a wait and see area.

 Posted by at 11:51 Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on INSPIRE and Universities: An update thanks to James Reid
Jul 262011
 

Just a brief update on the progress of the project here at Aberystwyth.  We now have Lucile Lemaire visiting from France with her experience in vegetation surveying and she is hard at work recording data from randomly selected areas of the Dyfi Biosphere. This is time consuming work and made especially difficult as she is using public transport, bicycle and foot to access the survey areas.  These areas are often a long way from the nearest path and could involve long walks over very rough and or wet boggy ground.

There will be some 6 weeks of this survey work to be done and it will result in some very detailed information about the range of habitat types found in the Dyfi area. Crucially it will also allow Prof Richard Lucas to test the validity of his methodology for classifying habitat types with Remote Sensing techniques.  Briefly put; if Lucile’s vegetation descriptions match up with Richard’s predicted ones then he has shown the value of his system to classify habitats from data gathed by satellites or aerial surveys.

I have been developing a Data Management Plan for the IGIBS data over the past couple of days and witnessing the work that has gone into creating some of these data at first hand  highlights the importance of securing the integrety and access to data that is expensive in time and effort to collect.  There have been around two hundred datasets identifyied for the Dyfi Bioshere, so far, so just multiplying the 6 weeks Lucile will spend collecting data from a few hundred 10×10 m squre plots by 200 gives a very rough estimation of the work that these data represents.

The benefit of data managennt planning and the associated metadata creation and logging will mean that these data, possibly representing about 24 years of work, will be more discoverable,  more widley used and more cerafully preserved. If just one researcher discovers data that they no longer need to collect a second time then the work involved will have been time well spent. The Digital Curation Centers’s online tool for creating data managment plans can be found here

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 17:13 phd Tagged with: , ,  Comments Off on Recent developments
Jul 202011
 

Alisdair is a PhD case study for the IGIBS project. He is 8 months into a PhD that is developing a tool to interpret almost ant kind of imagery into part of a time line for mapping habitat change.  You can view his university profile here.  He says that the key descriptors for this work are  “universal” and “precise”. So he is aiming create a tool that can be applied to images from Landsat , IRS  and SPOT for example and from these data  he is trying to draw out both changes in extent of habitats since 1975 and in timings of changes within a season. So he might be able to look at loss of semi-natural woodland through felling  and to identify changes in the timings of tree bud burst that might relate to climate change. 

In order to make  data created at different times precisely comparable he needs to perform some complex processing of imagery and to  filter out variable factors that distort the images, such as atmospheric quality.  This means that his data requirements for the PhD are very wide ranging and have covered satellite and aerial data from the past 35 years detailing ground cover, atmospheric quality  and many things in between. 

There are also issues around the accessibility of data that will be worth exploring for the IGIBS project as some of his source data is commercially protected but much of his output and analysis might be  more freely available. So some data will only be  for University use while other parts of his work will be more accessible.  

While the ultimate aim is to provide change maps for the whole of Wales, the pilot study is covering Borth Bog (Cors Fochno in Welsh) in the Dyfi Biosphere and so will provide a suitable case study for IGIBS. 

In particular this case study will highlight some major areas of the IGIBS project.

  1. His need for such a wide range of geospatial data  from differing  sources could  feed into recommendations for metadata and data discovery aspects as well as security issues and intellectual property rights.
  2. He will be producing maps of habitat change that could be useful to landscape researchers, WAG agencies, and many other categories of data users and so he is attempting to   establish a link with the National Library of Wales so that his research can establish a  resource for future use.
 Posted by at 11:59 phd, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Alisdair Cunningham – IGES PhD student
Jul 182011
 

Today we  had a Meeting with Mike Bailey, the Countryside Council For Wales (CCW) manager of the 2,300 Hectare Dyfi National Nature Reserve (NNR) that sits in the Western end of the Dyfi catchment. This NNR has areas of raised bog, sand dune and estuary within its boarders. Of particular interest for many of the projects at IGES is the raised bog area of the reserve which represents the largest area of such habitat in Wales.

Mike is helping out with several IGES projects ongoing on the raised bog. This is a valuable and fascinating habitat consisting of an area of raised peat sitting some three or four meters above the surrounding landscape. This removes much of the influence of underlying geology and watertable and leads to the development of unique and fragile habitats that have been much reduced in area and quality across Western Europe through peat digging in the past and present.

CCW is putting considerable time and money into the area with land purchase and habitat management aimed at restoring the fringes of the raised bog that have been degraded in the past by conversion to agricultural land and by peat cutting for fuel and horticultural use.

Mike is a case study for the project and is a provider of data that will be accessed by many users at IGES. He may also be able to benefit from students (postgraduates and undergraduates) adding value to some of his data with their own analysis.

The National Nature Reserve is surveyed and monitored in a variety of ways both for CCW and for postgraduate research. This has lead to the formation of a hotspot of data within the Dyfi catchment. Mike’s visit is particularly inspiring in the way he can help to visualise the geospatial data that we have collected . Understanding how records of species at particular x and y coordinates actually translate into understanding the health and nature of a very valuable and visually dramatic landscape really helps to bring this project alive.

The long term needs of ecological habitat management also emphasise the importance of long term data conservation. With some ecological management only showing its results over many years, the ability to safely conserve data and then to be able to rediscover it possibly a generation later will be a tough test for the best practice models for spatial data use and management this project aims to create.

 Posted by at 16:23 msc, phd, undergraduate, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Visit from Mike Bailey; Countryside Council for Wales
Jul 132011
 

A quick hello from your newest member (Steve Walsh) I now have my feet under the desk at Aberystwyth and look forward to working with you all. I will try and keep up regular blogs on developments….

I had a meeting with Jonathan Brownett yesterday and got some very useful insights into the use of spatial data from the coal face …….Below is a brief summary of Jonathan’s section of the project’s case study.

Jonathan Brownett – IGES MSc student 

Project 

 Jonathan is looking at land cover change in the Dyfi Catchment over an 8 year period using a mixture of data from LANDSAT 7 and field parcel data (LPIS) from the Welsh Government. He has also made use of the Digimap service to access OS MasterMap data and elevation and shape file data accessed from within from IGES. 

Jonathan is then relating this data to the relatively new Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) which uses pre defined classifiers that can be applied to a level of detail suitable for a particular project. With this method he should be able to track changes in 20 or so categories of vegetation, bare land and water covered areas. 

Combined with some confirmation of actual ground cover species Jonathan should then be able to describe some of the major land cover changes  that have happened in the Dyfi catchment (very similar in extent to the Dyfi Biosphere area). 

He is well underway with his work and should have his data analysed buy the end of July and should receive some expert help in using LCCS from Lucile who will be visiting the Department from France and will be bringing her expertise in carrying out LCCS ground survey to the Dyfi Biosphere area. 

Relevant experience for the IGIBS case study 

In several ways Jonathan is a very useful case study as he has recently come from a Conservation BSc and has experienced GIS and Remote Sensing courses and the functioning of an SDI in two academic departments. With his MSc thesis he is now   discovering the intricacies of accessing data from external agencies and discovering the wealth of data held by individual researchers with their own approaches to metadata creation. He is also being forward thinking and has suggested that some of his data might be suitable to use for undergraduate teaching so suggested that he will discuss the best way to make available the research data he has generated with his supervisors.

Jul 072011
 

Within IGES, key people representing users (undergraduates, postgraduates, research staff and academics, external users) have been identified as ‘case studies’ to support the IGIBS and demonstrate the beneifts for teaching and research.

Within IGEs, undergraduate students have access to a wide range of modules.    This project will focus on the Dissertation module and also the third year modules “Geographical Information Systems” and “Earth Observation from Aircraft and Satellite”.   New material is being developed revolving around these latter two modules which will also utilise web-based mapping and the datasets made available for the Dyfi Biosphere.  The opportunities for undertaking dissertation work within the catchment will also be promoted to students as suprisingly (and for the first time in many years) none from IGES focus on the Dyfi.   However, we are talking to dissertation students in other Departments to seek their involvement.

Aberystwyth University has recently launched a suite of five new Masters Courses focusing on remote sensing and GIS, Geography, Planetary Exploration, the Living Environment and Computer Science.  The material collated for the Dyfi catchment will be playing a key role in these courses, with the content of modules also conveying techniques developed in IGIBS.   As a case study, Jonathan Brownnet (a current student on the Masters course Remote Sensing and GIS) is investigating the use of multi-temporal remote sensing data for quantifying forest change in the Dyfi catchment and its likely impact on hydrological dynamics.   His work is being followed as part of IGIBS. 

At the Ph.D. level, Alisdair Cunningham is working also on methods of change detection from remote sensing data and he will be providing datasets for the project which will be made available to students and staff within IGES.  Becky Charnock is also commencing a Ph.D. in September on examining whether changes observed from remote sensing can be related to losses or gains of floral and faunal diversity.   Becky previously worked on IGIBS and will continue to contribute.

Our Map Librarian staff, Antony Smith and Ian Gulley, are also helping to make the IGIBS a success.  In February, IGES launched its new digital map library which is providing students with opportunities to explore geographical datasets delivered over the web and to input their own.   A key component is to utilise the Map Library facilities such that the datasets acquired for the Dyfi are full available to the range of users.

We are also linking with external research organisations including Forest Research (Dr. Hugh Evans), the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), EcologyMatters and the Welsh Government and helping to support a wide range of initiatives.   The project is also linking with the NERC Virtual Observatory project being undertaken at Aberystwyth University that also focuses on the Dyfi Biosphere.   There are also strong connections with the BIOSOS project through myself.   This project is focusing on using remote sensing data to characterise and monitor Natura 2000 sites, of which Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) is one.   A component of the project is to collect new datasets over the summer period which will be fed into IGIBS.

Steve Walsh is working to ensure the success of the project over the next four months and will be putting up blogs on a near daily basis so stay tuned for updates.

 Posted by at 10:34 Project Management, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Users of IGIBS: An update
Jun 032011
 

The overall aim of the IGIBS project is to try and improve the relationship between the UK’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) as manifested through the UK Location Programme (UKLP) and the UK’s academic SDI.

Our main objective is to focus on use cases emerging from research and education related to a particular area – the UNESCO designated Dyfi Biosphere Reserve.  Once articulated, these user requirements will drive the creation of two pieces of software of wider applicability and assist Aberystwyth University in developing resources for use by local students.

We are building on much prior art, especially in the area of Access Control.  EDINA runs the UK Access Management Federation (UKAMF) and, while it might not be fashionable, the reality is that many SDI resources, eg, data and web services, are going to stay protected.  This is true both of INSPIRE at the European scale and the UKLP nationally.  We aim to show how Shibboleth (the open source software that underpins the UKAMF) can be used to enable a wider range of use cases, so that UK students can get access to both open and protected resources, eg, from UK public authorities like Welsh Government.

We expect that the main four products resulting from this project will be:

  1. Working prototype of a “WMS factory” tool
  2. Simple mapping application
  3. Best Practice model for using UK academic SDI at the departmental level
  4. Demonstration of UK access management technology being used to secure public sector services in combination with academic sector services

SDI is underpinned by open geospatial standards like the OGC’s Web Map Service (WMS).  The “WMS factory” tool will allow users to upload their data and instantiate a WMS so that their data can then be viewed online, via a simple mapping application, in conjunction with reference data from Welsh Government.

Shibboleth is already used in academia, we extend its use here to demonstrate how public sector data can be made securely available to authenticated and authorised users within academia.

The Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES) has ambitions to improve the way it educates students in the use of open geospatial interoperability standards and intends using the Dyfi Biosphere Reserve area as an exemplar.  To this end we are conducting an inventory of data for the area and creating a repository for educational use.  The “Best Practice model for using UK academic SDI at the departmental level” will feed into this activity as well as provide guidance for the wider university sector.