Friday, 26 December 2008

AGI - A Review of the Year

It has, I believe, been a good year for the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) - my employers.

Firstly we have had a good year financially. For the fourth year in a row, we have posted a surplus. This has come from reducing our adminstration costs and increasing our revenue, particularly from membership subscriptions and from our annual conference. The current economic climate will give us some challenges next year, but we start with a firm financial base.

It has been a good year for the recognition of our unique place within GI and our ability to respond to Government initiatives swiftly and with authority. We can reflect a very wide range of opinion and can do so with clarity.

I think the AGI team have worked well this year. There are only 6 of us in the team and we have delivered a programme which belies our small size.

The volunteers have played a huge part in our success. Without a sense of purpose there would be no point to AGI. Our volunteers, through the AGI Council, our Special Interest Groups and our Regional Groups have given us that sense of purpose.

We have become more professional and have recognised the importance of providing our members with recognisable continuing professional development.

We are an important, I might even dare to say an indispensible, part of our industry. We are voice for the cutting edge of GIS innovation and at the same time a voice for gaining the widest possible benefits from that innovation. We are listened to by government and at the same time a catalyst for commercial progress.

I believe that we can look back with pride on what we have collectively achieved in 2008 and can look forward with confidence to what we can achieve in 2009.

Onwards and upwards.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The language of Geograpghy (3)

A final thought for this year on the language of geography. I was amazed that my previous blog on this subject was picked up by a number of other bloggers and also led to some articles in ´GIS Professional´ magazine. I obviously struck some sort of chord.

So I guess my hopes are that in 2009, those who are putting forward ideas in GIS either in print or as a presentation, take some care of the language they use so that it makes their topic accessible to all. Spread the word by all means, but make those words understandable.

I am once again on the Action Working Group tasked with organising the AGI 2009 conference. When the papers are submitted, I shall be looking at the language used as well as at the concepts or case studies being highlighted. Misunderstandings which arose occasionally from this years conference were partly due to the fact that the language used by one person was interpreted incorrectly by another person.

´Clarity of ideas´ is perhaps my hope for next year.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Rain in Spain

Apparently it sometimes rains in Malaga even when I am not there.

Here is a report from 'Sur' -
'The bad weather over the last few days has meant considerable movement of sand on the Malaga province coastline. La Caleta beach in Malaga city is where the worst damage has been reported so far and it coincides with regeneration work, to cost six million euros, which is due to start tomorrow.
Francisco Javier Hermoso from the Andalucía-Mediterranean Coasts Authority explained in a press release that the biggest movements have involved the forming of sand "steps", some of them "a metre and a half" high.
As well as the damage caused by the wind and rain in La Caleta, beaches in Fuengirola have been affected and washed up 'steps' of sand have also formed on the Ferrara beach in Torrox
In general sand has been lost from all the beaches in the province though less than would have been expected given the weather. The Coasts Authority will now analyse the situation on the beaches in preparation for regeneration work which will need to be done in April or May next year in advance of the high summer season.
Work, which will start in La Caleta tomorrow, involves building breakwaters and replacing 500,000 square metres of sand.'

And it's not only rain, but mosquitos and bugs which are being blown into Malaga. At least I think that is what this report in today's 'Que!'is saying -
'El cambio climático y el transporte de mercancías transfronterizo parecen estar en la base de la proliferación de plagas urbanas. Expertos aseguran que especies como las chinches o los piojos encuentran buen refugio en nuestro país. La ‘chinche de cama’, por ejemplo, “ha aumentado su presencia en la Costa del Sol y Galicia”, según explica Milagros Fernández de Lezeta, directora
de la Asociación Nacional de Empresas de Control de Plagas. También las moscas han llegado antes este otoño y al parecer lo han hecho de forma masiva en Málaga.'

Another consequence of climate change.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Quiz answers

Below are the answers to the quiz questions posted a few days ago. The winning team at our Conference scored 40/60, so if you came close to that, well done!

1 -Sydney
2 -New York
3 -Kendall (mint cake) first made 1869 – mistake in producing glacier mints
4 -Timbuktu (Djinguereber Mosque completed 1327 mainly mud&straw)
5 -Budapest
6 -Prague (Mozart Symphony 38 performed Prague 1787)
7 -Reykjavik
8 - Melbourne (Jason & Kylie – Neighbours Ramsay Street)
9 - San Francisco
10 - St Albans (Roman citizenship AD50 torched by Boudica AD61)
11 – Trumpton (members of fire brigade – never attended a fire because animation too difficult)
12 – Barcelona. (When dubbed into Spanish, the waiter became Paolo from Naples)
13 – Notting Hill
14 – Kansas (because of TV screenings, most watched film in history)
15 – Denton, Ohio. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.1975
16 – London –Born/died in Austria living in London in 1795
17 -Auvergne (Published 1923 – 1930) Chants D’Auvergne
18 – Texas (named after movie Paris, Texas)
19 – France (Bonnie Tyler)
20 – Moscow (played before news broadcasts on Radio Moscow)
21 – Dumfries (known as the doon hamers – doon hame)
22 – Pittsburg (steel industry)
23 – Paris 1900, 1924 (home city of Baron De Coubertin)
24 – Nottingham Forest (Twice 1979, 1980 – only winners to drop to third division)
25 – Canada (Moncton, New Brunswick) Invented by Scots but rarely won by them
26 – Singapore - sling Ngiam Tong Boon – Raffles Hotel
27 – Spain (Catalan dish)
28 – Iceland (Icelandic prohibition, government skull, crossbones on labels)
29 – Afghanistan
30 – South Africa (created 1925 Stellenbosh University)
31 – Rubicon (boundary Italy & Gaul. became an invader in Italy and am enemy of Pompey & the senate)
32 – Houston. Houston, Tranquility Base here; the Eagle has landed
33 – Naseby
34 – Paddington (opened January 1863 38,000 on first day)
35 – Manchester (Demonstration for parliamentary reform – 15 died, 400 injured military authorities)
36 – Teheran (prior to Yalta)
37 – West Lothian – Tam Dalyell
38 – Rome
39 – Cape Town 1960
40 – Witney, Oxfordshire
41 – Paris
42 – Shanghai (invaded following the bombing of Pearl Harbour)
43 – Westminster (September 3rd 1802)
44 – San Francisco
45 – Botswana in the books by Alexander McCall Smith
46 – Canada (Ontario – Alec Guiness spoke first lines in 1953)
47 – Birnham Wood – (witches said he would be safe – used Malcolm’s army as camoflauge to attack Dunsinane castle)
48 – Verona
49 – Henley Street (1564)
50 – Milford Haven (Cymbeline – the heroine Imogen runs away to MH described as city of treachery and wickedness)
51 – Tewkesbury
52 – River Lagan (mouth of river in Belfast)
53 - Great Dunmow
54 – The London Underground
55 – New Forest.
56 – Victoria (second largest freshwater lake by surface area, seventh largest by volume)
57 – Berlin – (52 10, 52 20, 52 30 N)
58 – Zagreb (Croatia)
59 – Flanders (Flanders & Swann, Gerard Mercator, born Rupelmonde, Flanders)
60 – Novosibirsk (Academgorodok, Maxim Vengerov, River Ob, Eclipse)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Very Spatial Quiz (part 2)

Here is the second part of the quiz I ran at our Annual Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon. Answers in a few days. Remember, every answer is a location or has a location as part of the answer.

Round 2 – Television & Film
Question 11 – Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble & Grub live in which fictitious town?
Question 12 – In Fawlty Towers, which city did Manuel come from?
Question 13 – Which 1999 film, named after the district in London in which it was set, was directed by Roger Mitchell and written by Richard Curtis?
Question 14 – To which American state does Dorothy return at the end of the Wizard of Oz?
Question 15 – ‘It seemed a fairly ordinary night when Brad Majors and his fiancee Janet Weiss left that late November evening. It’s true there were dark storm clouds, heavy, black and pendulous, toward which they were driving. It’s true also that the spare tyre they were carrying was badly in need of some air. But they, being normal kids and on a night out, were not going to let a storm spoil the events of their evening.’
From which American town were they driving?

Round 3 - Music
Question 16 – Joseph Haydn’s final, and possibly best known, symphony, no 104 in D major, is named after the city in which it was composed. Which city?
Question 17 – In the 1920’s, Joseph Canteloube collected and orchestrated a collection of songs from which region of France?
Question 18 – Before going solo, of which band was Sharleen Spiteri the lead singer?
Question 19 – In which country in 1976 did Gaynor Hopkins get lost?
Question 20 – Hidden tune (this question was in fact sung). Which city –
Не слышны в саду даже шорохи,
Всё здесь замерло до утра.
Если б знали вы, как мне дороги
Подмосковные вечера,

Round 4 - Sport
Question 21 – Scottish football clubs often have names which do not mention the home town – Albion Rovers, St Mirren etc. In 2008, one of these, Queen of the South, reached their first ever cup final. There was rejoicing in the streets of… where? What is the home town of Queen of the South?
Question 22 – In American Football, the Steelers come from which city.
Question 23 – Which was the first city to host the modern summer Olympics twice?
Question 24 – Which is the only soccer club to have won the European Cup / Champions League more often than they have won their own national league?
Question 25 – Which country, world champions 30 times in the past 50 years, will host the 2009 men’s world curling championships?

Round 5 – Food & Drink
Question 26 – A mixture of gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and angostura bitters, this cocktail was first slung together at the turn of the century in a hotel in which city.
Question 27 – Zarzuela is both a comic opera and a seafood stew in which country.
Question 28 – Brennivin also known as Black Death and made from fermented potato mash, is the national drink of which country?
Question 29 – Serat is a cheese made from sheep’s milk and dipped in beeswax to preserve it during long journeys, predominantly in which country?
Question 30 – Pinotage is a red wine grape in which country.

Round 6 - History
Question 31 – In 49BC, Caesar reportedly said ‘The Die is Cast’ upon crossing which river?
Question 32 – Which geographical location was the first word spoken from the moon?
Question 33 – The decisive battle of the English Civil War took place on 14th June 1645 and resulted in defeat for King Charles’s army. Where?
Question 34 – In 1863 the world’s first underground railway was opened in London, running from Farringdon to where?
Question 35 – In which city in 1819 did the Peterloo massacre take place.

Round 7 – Politics
Question 36 – In November 1943 Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt had a conference to plan strategy against the Nazis in which city?
Question 37 – Which location has given its name to the supposed paradox of Scottish MPs voting on English legislation when, because of devolution, English MPs cannot always vote on Scottish legislation?
Question 38 – The EU was established in 1957 by a treaty signed in which city?
Question 39 – The wind of change is blowing through this continent. In which city did Harold Macmillan say these words.
Question 40 – Tory leader David Cameron is the MP for which constituency?

Round 8 - Literature
Question 41 – Dicken’s a Tale of Two cities refers to London and which other city.
Question 42 – J G Ballard’s Empire of the Sun is set in which Asian city?
Question 43 – ‘Earth has not anything to show more fair’. Those words were written by Wordsworth whilst standing upon which bridge?
Question 44 – In Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series, the central characters lived at 28 Barbary Lane. In which city?
Question 45 – In which country did Ma Ramotswe set up the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

Round 9 – Shakespeare
Question 46 – In which Commonwealth country, excluding the UK, is there a town called Stratford on a river called Avon which has run a festival of Shakespearian Theatre for over 50 years.
Question 47 – Macbeth was deemed to be safe until which seemingly immovable object, moved?
Question 48 – Romeo, Romeo wherefore art though Romeo? We all know he was beneath the balcony, but in which city?
Question 49 – Shakepeare was born in Stratford upon Avon, but in which street?
Question 50 – Which is the only place in Wales which gets a significant mentioned in one of Shakespeare’s plays?

Round 10 – British Isles
Question 51 – The River Avon which flows through Stratford eventually joins the River Severn in which town?
Question 52 – Which river forms most of the boundary between Co Antrim and Co Down?
Question 53 - In which British town can a married couple win a flitch of bacon if they can persuade a jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors that in twelvemonth and a day they have never wished themselves unmarried.
Question 54 – What did Henry Beck map out in 1932
Question 55 – Most of Britain’s national parks were designated in the 1950’s, the Peak District being the first. But the newest national park was designated in 2006. Which one is it.?

Round 11 – World Geography
Question 56 – What is the largest lake through which the equator passes?
Question 57 – Which is further north – Stratford-Upon-Avon, Amsterdam or Berlin?
Question 58 – If all capital cities in the world were listed alphabetically, which would come last?
Question 59 – What links the singing partner of a mud-loving Swan and the birthplace in 1512 of the father of modern scientific cartography?
Question 60 – Name this city. Located 55 degrees north and 83 degrees east, it became in 1962 the youngest city in the world with a population of over 1m. Head for the station, and you can take a train westwards for 2 days without leaving the country. Change platforms and you can take a train eastwards for 4 days also without leaving the country. Head down the street past the sign to the academic town 30 km away and past the concert hall where its most famous son still occasionally plays and you will arrive at a river with a short name but a long journey – it will flow for a further 2000km northwards. On August 1st 2008 the city had a dark day. Which city?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A Very Spatial Quiz

I ran a quiz at the AGI conference. By general consent, it was probably a bit too difficult. The winning team scored 40 points out of 60, which I guess proves that.

Anyway the first part consisted of written questions, and I am repeating them here. Answers will be posted in a few days.

In each case, name the town or city (& click on pictures to enlarge and don't look at the name of the picture).


‘These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray’

It is made by combining sugar, glucose and water then boiling more fiercely in smaller pots. After cooling for several minutes, half on ounce of oil of peppermint is added to every 40 lb of mix. The blend is poured by hand into shallow trays where it hardens quickly and is rapidly transferred out of the sugar boiling room and wrapped. It has a subtle but stimulating flavor, cool in summer, fiery in winter and has a unique blend of textures, smooth and hard, but always creamy when sucked.




64 9 N 21 58 W




Monday, 6 October 2008

Parliamo Geo (part 2)

Oh dear! A few days ago I did a post about the language of geography and how sometimes the specialist language used by geographers to talk to geographers is incomprehensible to the layman. I didn't give any examples.

Little did I know that an example would arise so quickly. There is a new job advert in the Guardian for a Spatial Analysis Co-Ordinator in the Department of Communities and Local Government. It states the following - 'Traditional spatial analysis is embedded with our analysts but we wish to extend into quantitative techniques such as spatial statistics and spatial modelling. The second area we wish to strengthen is online publishing of geographic information. This is already well developed, but we want to go further, to explore the potential of emerging web techniques to sharing place related knowledge.'
No doubt those at whom it is aimed might know exactly what this job entails, but I think the language used could have been a bit more understandable.

And so, almost inevitably, the press has picked up on this. Here is an article in the Telegraph.
And then a follow-up article.

And so, just as we are trying to get the importance of place highlighted throughout government, we lay ourselves open to a degree of ridicule though our use of rather baffling language.

The frustrating thing is that this job is a useful and necessary one. But the language used confuses rather than clarifies.

I think we need to be more aware of the importance, and consequences, of language.