Category Archives: Education

Field Studies Council

Inspiring both students and teachers

Each year over 150,000 secondary school students and their teachers visit centres run by the Field Studies Council (FSC) to learn about the environment, undertake fieldwork and explore new scientific techniques. Since 2014 FSC has been embedding Esri’s ArcGIS platform as a core technology to help students acquire real-world skills, as well as supporting teachers in delivering engaging geography lessons with integrated GIS skills.

Students gain first-hand experience of using GIS in the field

Teachers derive inspiration from best practice use of GIS in education

FSC benefits from the support of Esri UK’s education specialists

The Challenge

Geographic information system (GIS) technology now features prominently in both the GCSE and A level geography specifications, and students studying at both levels need to understand how GIS could be used to collect, visualise, analyse and interpret data. However, the use of GIS in schools is often impeded by teachers’ lack of experience and confidence in using the technology, along with challenges of access to hardware in school.

As an environmental education charity that runs thousands of residential and day courses for geography, geology and biology students and professionals every year, the Field Studies Council (FSC) wanted to take a leadership role in the use of GIS in teaching. Rather than rely on simplistic solutions like Google Earth, it wanted to showcase the use of market leading GIS technology and equip both students and teachers with the skills to succeed.

“ Using ArcGIS, students spend more time thinking about what their data means and less time manually creating maps and handling data

David Morgan – Education Technology Officer – Field Studies Council

The Solution

There were two primary reasons why FSC selected Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Firstly, the organisation found the software very intuitive to use and felt it would be an easy system for young people and non-technical, teaching staff to become proficient in. Secondly, FSC felt well supported by Esri UK’s team of education specialists, who were on hand to help FSC employees build their capabilities with the solution and develop teaching resources.

FSC now uses a suite of ArcGIS solutions across all nineteen of its centres in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Students start by performing research using data from Esri’s Living Atlas and ArcGIS Online to explore environmental or geographic issues and develop their knowledge of the study area, helping them to plan their investigations. They then use Esri’s Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS in the field to collect data via mobile devices and undertake studies on anything from glaciated landscapes and the impacts of flooding to human ‘moods’ in urban areas.

All of the data collected in the field using Collector and Survey123 is instantly uploaded to ArcGIS Online on their return to the classroom, so groups do not waste time processing and copying data. They can then view their data alongside that collected by their peers on interactive maps in ArcGIS Online to identify trends and analyse data. The cloud-based nature of ArcGIS Online means that students and teachers can access their project data from home or school after their residential trip.

“ ArcGIS connects students to the real world. It shows them that they are developing skills that have an application in a wide range of careers, beyond school and education

David Morgan – Education Technology Officer, Field Studies Council

The Benefits

An enhanced learning experience
Students that attend FSC courses have an enhanced learning experience, because they can analyse the data they have collected in the field as soon as they get back to the centre and combine their own findings with relevant contextual data, on interactive maps, at the push of a button. “Using ArcGIS, students spend more time thinking about what their data means and less time manually creating maps and handling data,” says David Morgan, FSC Education Technology Officer. “That means learners can spend more time tackling higher level questions and ensure they get the most value from their studies.”

A platform for continued learning
As FSC allows students and teachers to continue to access their own data via ArcGIS Online long after the end of residential courses, students are able to build on what they learned. “For lots of our students, the work that they do on a fieldtrip provides the basis of coursework for their A levels” Morgan says. “With ArcGIS, the data they need for their projects is exactly where they left it, and, most importantly, they know how to analyse it with ArcGIS.”

A demonstration of good practice for teachers
During school visits, teachers are themselves often inspired by FSC’s use of ArcGIS. GIS with the FSC is integrated, student led, differentiated for each student’s ability and broad enough to allow students to self-direct in ways which will support their understanding around a topic. Many teachers return to attend professional courses, run by the FSC, aimed specifically at helping teachers to use ArcGIS to support teaching of GCSEs and A levels, as well as Highers and Advanced Highers in Scotland. “When teachers see ArcGIS being used well, they say how can I do that?” Morgan says.

Real-world skills for the future
With access to the latest ArcGIS solutions, students at FSC centres gain experience of using the kinds of GIS tools that professional geographers and ecologists use in their jobs. “ArcGIS connects students to the real world,” observes Morgan. “It shows them that they are developing skills that have an application in a wide range of careers, beyond school and education.”

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Greater London Authority

Meeting rising demand for school places across London

In a ground-breaking project initiated by the London Mayor’s Office, the Greater London Authority has launched an online atlas of London schools, across its 33 London boroughs. The unprecedented clarity of information in the atlas will help the capital meet rising demand for school places, as well as allow families to make better-informed decisions when selecting schools.

London boroughs can understand the cross-boundary flow of pupils to better anticipate demand for school places

Education providers have evidence to justify their funding applications for new schools and expansion projects

Families can see consistent information about all schools and make the right choices for their children

The Challenge

In just eight years’ time, by 2025, London is predicted to need as many as 160,000 additional school places. This phenomenal growth is significantly faster than any other area of the UK and presents a significant challenge for the 33 London borough councils, which are responsible for providing school places in the capital. The complex relationship between population growth and demand for places varies hugely by location and over time, as ‘bubbles’ of growth can work their way through the school system. Understanding the picture spatially is vital because as many as 20% of young people cross borough boundaries to go to school each day.

The picture is similarly complex for parents in the capital who have to decide which schools to apply for or which new area to move into. Although some local authorities publish guidelines or catchment maps, their approach varies, making it difficult for parents to compare the likelihood of getting into different schools and the onward flow from primary schools to secondary schools.

“ ArcGIS gave us the robust platform we needed to openly share the findings from the Mayor’s Educational Inquiry recommendations

Paul Hodgson – GIS and Infrastructure Manager, Greater London Authority

The Solution

Recognising these challenges, The Mayor of London launched an Educational Inquiry and recommended the pan-London collection and analysis of data about school places. The Greater London Authority (GLA) used Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution in combination with other products to analyse anonymised data from the National Pupil Database, which comprises information on 8 million pupils, gathered over a five year period. “There aren’t that many systems which can handle the breadth and complexity of pupil and location data that we wanted to analyse and visualise,” says Paul Hodgson, GIS and Infrastructure Manager at the GLA. “ArcGIS gave us the robust platform we needed to openly share the findings from the Mayor’s Educational Inquiry recommendations.”

The organisation then used ArcGIS Server and JavaScript to create a customised, highly intuitive and interactive online map to display its data. This map, named the London Schools Atlas, shows for the first time the areas where pupils from particular schools live, historic catchment areas and feeder schools. Parents can click on their address and select a nearby school to see not only what percentage of children from their area attend this school, but also view the exam results and Ofsted inspection grades for this school and even calculate the journey time by foot or public transport.

The GLA supplemented the London Schools Atlas with data on birth rates, moves in and out of the capital, building developments and other factors that will have an impact on the net growth in pupil numbers in the period 2015-2025 to create graded maps that clearly highlight those areas of London where additional school places will be required in the future, to support critical education planning.

“ One of the GLA’s core missions is to provide strategic coordination across London. This project is a good example of how the GLA is fulfilling that role and adding value for Londoners

Paul Hodgson – GIS and Infrastructure Manager, Greater London Authority

The Benefits

Clear information for parents and carers
Following the launch of the London Schools Atlas, parents and guardians have a single point of reference for consistent, accurate information about all primary, secondary and specialist schools in London. They can access the interactive map from any desktop, tablet or mobile device and easily find the information they need to ascertain the probability of getting places at different schools. “There’s often a lot of anecdotal information at the school gate about how close you have to be to schools to get a place and which secondary schools primary pupils generally feed into,” Hodgson says. “The London Schools Atlas enables parents to make informed decisions when making and ranking their six school choices as part of the school application process.”

Accurate evidence to support future planning
Critically, The London Schools Atlas gives London’s 33 borough councils the evidence they need to approach the Department of Education for central government funding for new schools and school expansion projects to meet the population growth. Likewise, free school groups and academies can use the data presented in the London Schools Atlas to make sure that their proposals for new schools are in the right locations to fulfil projected demand. “It has been estimated that 4,000 new classrooms of 30 children will be needed in London over the next ten years, but not all in the same place at the same time,” Hodgson remarks. “The London Schools Atlas helps all education providers to understand at a local level, where and when places are required.”

Added insight coupled with reduced administration
Education managers working within borough councils now have added insight into demand for school places in their boroughs, because, for the first time, they can clearly see the cross-border flow of pupils. The project also saves time in education departments in boroughs right across the capital, because, as Hodgson says, “instead of publishing schools information 33 times in 33 different formats, it is just done once.” Indeed, individual boroughs will now be able to spend less time looking for and analysing information and can focus instead on meeting pupil needs and raising education standards.

Exemplary public sector coordination
In many ways, the London Schools Atlas is a beacon of best practice for London, as it demonstrates how the London Mayor’s Office and the GLA can provide leadership to improve efficiency and optimise public services in the capital. Hodgson says: “One of the GLA’s core missions is to provide strategic coordination across London. This project is a good example of how the GLA can fulfil that role and add value for Londoners.”

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Education Authority Northern Ireland

Driving changes in school transportation

Parents in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, can now use an ingenious little web app to check if their children are eligible for school bus travel and apply online. The solution, developed by Esri Ireland, has received enthusiastic feedback from families following a highly successful pilot.

Greater convenience and better information for parents

Potential time savings of over 58 days a year, when the app is rolled out nationally

More accurate address information to assist decision making

The Challenge

Among its numerous responsibilities, the Education Authority is required to facilitate transportation for pupils who live more than a stipulated distance away from their allocated grant-aided school. Northern Ireland is a predominantly rural country and, as a consequence, over 90,000 children are eligible for free travel on school buses. Every summer the Education Authority must consider in excess of 25,000 new applications in time for the start of the academic year. It is a very complicated process, which involves measuring the walking distance to school for each individual applicant and ensuring that

all decisions about whether or not to fund transportation are made both quickly and fairly. Until recently, this entire process was driven by information collected and communicated in paper-based forms.

“The time had come to change this,” says Dale Hanna, transport manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region. “We want to make it really easy for parents to find out if their children are eligible for free travel and then submit accurate information for the application process online.”

“ When the GIS web app is rolled out nationally, we expect to save over 58 says a year, which will free up staff to focus on delivering other important educational services

Dale Hanna – transport manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region

The Solution

To help it achieve its goal, the Education Authority approached Esri Ireland and asked it to use Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology to create a web-based app that would be mobile friendly and accessible 24/7. Developed using Esri’s ArcGIS Platform, the solution integrates live Ordnance Survey map services and address data from Land and Property Services (LPS).

This ingenious app is now up-and-running as a pilot and available to parents of pupils moving from primary to post-primary education in the Dungannon area. When parents log in, a screen is presented that is already prepopulated with all of the pupil’s details. A map view shows the street where the pupil lives and an arrow marks the assumed location of the house or flat. If the arrow is in the wrong place, parents can simply slide the map using their touch screen or curser to indicate the precise location of the property.

When parents tap the ‘submit’ button, the GIS-based app automatically calculates walking distances. If the pupil is clearly eligible, parents will receive an instant ‘yes’ response, and their application is automatically forwarded to the transportation team.  Equally, if the pupil is evidently not eligible, parents are immediately notified.  In other cases, such as if pupils live in areas marginally outside the eligible distance, the applications are forwarded for more detailed consideration. “It’s beautifully simple, yet a terrific demonstration of the power of digital geography,” says Eamonn Doyle, chief technical officer at Esri Ireland.

“ This app moves our engagement with citizens to the next level and, in doing so, improves the quality of service to our customers

Colm Daly – information manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region

The Benefits

A convenient service for parents
The school transport app has transformed the quality and availability of information for parents. In the majority of cases, parents can get an instant answer to the question ‘is my child eligible for school transport?’  Parents also have the convenience of being able to apply for transportation online, and don’t have to fill in lengthy forms. “The feedback from parents has been very positive,” says Colm Daly, information manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region. “This app moves our engagement with citizens to the next level and, in doing so, improves the quality of service to our customers.”

Greater public confidence
The new online app also helps to give parents a better understanding of the eligibility criteria for school transport and instils greater confidence in the application process. Whereas previously, the Education Authority only received a postal address for applicants in its paper forms, it now receives emails with a precise map and the coordinates of pupils’ homes. “This helps us to make better, faster decisions,” Daly states, adding that, “the app may over time reduce costly appeals.”

Improved operational efficiency
The Education Authority can now operate more efficiently in the pilot area, as it no longer has to waste time processing applications from parents who have used the app and discovered that they are not eligible. “In our Dungannon pilot, 15% of the people who used our app received a ‘no’ response,” explains Hanna.  “We estimate that it takes 10 minutes to manually process a ‘no’ application, so in the pilot phase alone we saved over one working day. Across the whole of Northern Ireland there are around 2500 ‘no’ applications every year. When the GIS web app is rolled out nationally, we expect to save over 58 days a year, which will free up staff to focus on delivering other important educational services. Additional efficiencies are achievable by future advancements in integration with our back office systems.”

Enhanced data quality
One additional, unexpected, benefit has emerged, as Daly explains. “Because parents can correct the locations of their homes on the online map, they are effectively doing quality control on the address data and that’s pretty interesting from a GIS perspective. It means that we can actually go back to LPS and other data providers in the future and supply them with updates. I don’t think that anybody else in the UK or indeed in Europe is doing that right now.”

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University of Northampton

Encouraging more young people into higher education

Given the increasing competitiveness between universities to attract new undergraduates, the University of Northampton has started to use Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it improve its marketing. This innovative use of GIS helps the university to promote the value of its courses and increase applications from prospective new students.


Case study – Education


The Customer

The University of Northampton is situated in the heart of England and offers a range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

ArcGIS reveals where existing students originate from, helping the university to understand where best to target its future marketing activities

GIS helps to show prospective new students where they might find employment and what their prospects might be following graduation

The university uses ArcGIS to identify local areas of deprivation and encourage disadvantaged children to go to university

The Challenge

Universities in England and Wales are facing up to one of the biggest changes in higher education in decades. Students now have to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year, and this huge financial consideration is deterring many young people from continuing their education. Indeed, in the autumn of 2012, there was a 12% decline in student enrolments across the UK. As a result, many universities failed to fill their courses and suffered a reduction in funding.

The University of Northampton was quick to realise that the introduction of tuition fees would necessitate a dramatic shift in the way that it promoted itself to prospective new students.

Firstly, the university recognised that it would need to further target its marketing activities more precisely towards those students most likely to choose Northampton to help it increase applications. Analysis of postcodes from applicants had been undertaken, however, analysis of enrolled students had not been undertaken. Furthermore, there had not been any opportunities to monitor changes to the location of enrolled students over time.

Secondly, the university was being asked to contribute towards economic reports relating to graduate employment of students from Northamptonshire. It was recognised that this report would also demonstrate the quality of the University’s education to prospective students and reassure them that they would be able to work in graduate-level employment afterwards. The university is currently named England’s top university for employability.

“ Using GIS, we were able to allocate our ambassadors strategically to help raise the aspirations of pupils in the most deprived parts of the County

Emily Fletcher – Business Intelligence Officer, The University of Northampton

The Solution

Like many further and higher education institutions in the UK, the University of Northampton teaches geographic information system (GIS) skills to its students. Every year, as many as 80 undergraduates and 20 postgraduates are introduced to GIS as part of Environmental Science, Geography and Waste Management courses, and the university has a site-wide licence to use Esri’s ArcGIS software for this purpose.

Emily Fletcher, a Business Intelligence Officer within the Office of the Vice Chancellor, discovered that she could also employ ArcGIS for research and business intelligence purposes, at no additional cost. In the first instance, she used ArcGIS Desktop to create a map showing precisely where enrolled students come from. This project provided conclusive evidence that many of the university’s enrolled students come from Northamptonshire. However, it also revealed that pockets of students originate from locations further afield.

Every year the university undertakes a survey to ascertain the destination of leavers. Fletcher used this survey information to create a GIS application that displays students’ home towns, where they subsequently obtained jobs after graduation and whether those jobs are graduatelevel positions. These maps are used in a variety of ways to inform students about job prospects, as well as supply data to Northamptonshire County Council for use in economic reports.

Finally, Fletcher has also used ArcGIS Desktop to plot the locations of Northamptonshire’s primary schools against the National Index of Multiple Deprivation and highlight those schools in the poorest areas of the town and County. Students then visited these primary schools to talk to children about university life. “Using GIS, we were able to allocate our ambassadors strategically to help raise the aspirations of pupils in the most deprived parts of the County,” Fletcher says.

“ ArcGIS has given us greater insight, which will help us further tailor our marketing and attract higher numbers of applicants to our university

Emily Fletcher – Business Intelligence Officer, The University of Northampton

Benefits

The use of ArcGIS has given the University of Northampton a deeper level of intelligence about its applicants and students. For example, it will be able to foster links with schools and colleges in areas where, historically, young people have tended to select Northampton. “ArcGIS has provided the University with an opportunity to pictorially capture where our students originate” says Fletcher. “It has given us greater insight, which will help us further tailor our marketing and attract higher numbers of applicants to our university.”

In addition, the University of Northampton has gained a great deal of value from being able to analyse the results of its annual leavers’ survey using GIS. While information about students’ destinations had always been available in the past, this information is now displayed clearly on interactive maps. Prospective students can therefore easily see where past students have moved to and whether they have obtained graduate-level employment. This helps them to understand the value that they will gain from an education at the University of Northampton.

Finally, the use of GIS is helping the University of Northampton to target its ambassadorial activities more precisely to those areas of greatest need or relevance. The UK Government seeks to raise the attainment of young people from deprived areas, and the university can now clearly demonstrate how it is supporting this national agenda.

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Kingston University

Breadth and depth of GIS teaching gives more students highly marketable skills

Kingston were the first University ever, to offer undergraduates the opportunity to study GIS at degree level.  Since 1989, the theory, concepts, application and techniques of GIS have proven to be a very popular MSc degree choice.


Case study – Higher Education


The Customer

Since 1989 when Kingston became the world’s first university to offer a degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the institution’s GIS teaching and research expertise have gone from strength to strength. As one of the fastest growing branches of geoscience, the demand for GIS skills is increasing and Kingston’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses continue to evolve to ensure students remain as employable as possible.

The long established BSc in GIS, comprises 28 modules, each of which takes 14 weeks of study. The course examines the concepts, techniques and application of GIS and the broad choice of topics attract a wide range of students. The two Masters Degree programmes are popular with both private and public sector organisations.

In an ever changing world, it is important to develop the students of today with the right skills, enabling them to apply for a wide range of jobs in the future

Teaching cutting-edge technology is one of Kingston’s mantras and through the Eduserve CHEST programme, Kingston has access to Esri software

Kingston offer one of the most in-depth GIS degrees in the world and students from other disciplines also benefit from taking a GIS module, teaching the latest GIS methods and techniques

The Challenge

Kingston is not in the business of producing ‘GIS technicians’ or promoting ‘button technology’, instead it focuses on supplying the market with ‘geo-scientists’ – a somewhat unique person who has the knowledge of the concepts and theories of geographical enquiry, coupled with the skills of a computer scientist. This arms students with the ability to be able to apply GIS to a problem and understand it more effectively through using the technology to tackle it.

One example of Kingston’s innovative GIS teaching is in fieldwork where it uses Esri software to help students learn about data collection, limitations of data and the constraints that GIS professionals often encounter. Kingston has increased the amount of fieldwork over the years as it strongly believes the only way of generating a true understanding of GIS is to get out in the real world and examine the environment first hand, as with any other geoscience.

GIS is relevant to many aspects of further and higher education. Over 80% of universities in the UK and Ireland currently have access to Esri software and we want to encourage the higher education community to maximise the use of this powerful technology.

Kingston University’s long established BSc in GIS aims to develop GIS Professionals who understand the concepts and theories of geographical analysis, coupled with the skills of a computer scientist

Students can gain from learning techniques such as, data manipulation, health and disease analysis, 3D modelling,Geoweb development and virtual reality

Students graduating from Kingson are equipted with the ability to apply GIS to a wide range of problems, leveraging GIS technology to interpret information, run scenarios and ultimately, discover a solution.

The Solution

Kingston uses Esri as one of its GIS software platforms to help teach techniques such as the collection, manipulation, storage analysis, health and disease analysis, geoweb development, 3D modelling and virtual reality.

“ …GIS from companies like Esri gives us the ability to model and analyse the world in new ways which just weren’t possible in the past

Dr. Kenneth Field – GIS Course Director at Kingston University

Benefits

The benefits of the extensive GIS modules are felt right across the University’s School of Geography, Geology and the Environment. Not only do Single Honours BSc Undergraduates enjoy one of the most in-depth GIS degrees in the world but students from Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Computer Science, Forensic Science and Business Studies also take advantage of GIS modules.

Second year and Masters students undertake a week-long mobile GIS field course to Malta which involves creating a mobile mapping environment to support collaborative student learning – a significant step forward in enhancing the benefits of field-based learning. Students work through a range of data acquisition scenarios using consumer and high precision GPS and handheld PDAs running Esri’s ArcPAD as well as using mobile applications built using ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Mobile and the ArcGIS javascript API. Capturing data on noise pollution, land use, vegetation, habitation and transport network information; the data is then applied to a whole range of exercises.

Having a wide range of software and hardware available ensures Kingston can teach the latest GIS methods and testing the boundaries of technology is one of the core tenets of Kingston’s teaching philosophy.

Teaching and testing with cutting-edge technology is one of Kingston’s mantras and the Malta trip is a great example of an educational innovation with the GIS sector. Working with the latest technology allows the university to teach the most up-to-date techniques, which is invaluable in preparing students for the work place. While desktop GIS is essential, as the industry moves more towards client/server models and cloud-based computing, likewise Kingston has to remain at the forefront of any technical advances.

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Bournemouth University

Giving GIS skills to new audiences through multi-disciplinary teaching

The Applied Sciences School of Bournemouth University is breaking new ground by incorporating GIS training into many more of its courses.  For the first time, students of subjects including biology and forensic science will learn valuable GIS skills alongside students of geography and ecology, in recognition of the growing importance of GIS in many careers.


– School of Applied Sciences –


Case study – Higher Education


The Customer

As one of the six schools within Bournemouth University, Applied Sciences contains three academic centres. One focuses on archaeology, anthropology and heritage, another covers ecology and geographical science while the third deals with forensic science. Teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, the school has an International reputation for delivering high quality education while also pursuing excellence in research. Areas of research expertise include: Forensic archaeology and crime scene science where, for example, staff are currently investigating genocide in Iraq, Bosnia and Rwanda and the implications of unearthing 40,000 year old human footprints in central Mexico.

The university has been able to take advantage of an educational licensing agreement with Esri UK to expand its teaching of GIS cost-effectively

Forensic science students now use Esri’s ArcGIS platform to identify where snipers might hide and where murderers might conceal bodies

Many more science students will leave university with a practical knowledge of using GIS, adding to their employability skills

The Challenge

In the past, only Ecology and Geography undergraduates were taught GIS for all three years as undergraduates, while Archaeologists attended GIS lectures in their third year. Recently, Forensic Science students also joined the GIS sessions from their second year onwards and other disciplines are soon to follow suit. Biology will be the next subject to take advantage of learning GIS skills from the second year on, for example.

Andy Ford, Lecturer in Geoinformatics, explained: “The growing relevance of GIS in various industries means it’s becoming ever more applicable to other subjects here at Bournemouth. Our aspiration is to make GIS available to all students within the school, giving them the benefit of learning new skills which are now in demand in the workplace. This means GIS will be accessible for Environmental Sciences and Biology students – in addition to those studying Archaeology, Geography; Forensic Science and Ecology.”

“ Our aspiration is to make GIS available to all students within the school, giving them the benefit of learning new skills which are now in demand in the workplace

Andy Ford – Lecturer in Geo informatics

The Solution

The main driver behind the new GIS initiative is that it can easily be applied to the various disciplines, to help solve relevant challenges and tasks and Bournemouth therefore believes it should be taught, to a wider audience.

The school is also set to benefit from greater economies of scale, as students from all disciplines will attend the same GIS sessions, rather than additional tailored modules which would not be economically viable. This gives staff more time to devote to research and generate the valuable income all universities need for long-term growth.

Bournemouth uses a mix of GIS software as part of its teaching programme, including Esri ArcInfo and ArcView. The campus-wide Esri licence acquired via the Eduserv CHEST programme supports the spread of GIS to new subjects, as it allows an unlimited number of users at no additional cost.

“ GIS is the glue that holds all the disciplines together, or will be in the future. We’ll be teaching GIS to all three centres for all three years

Andy Ford – Lecturer in Geo informatics

Benefits

Bournemouth’s GIS teaching is already breaking new ground in the field of Forensic Science, where the capabilities of GIS are being realised for the first time. A prime example involves current Masters students, using Esri ArcView to create predictive models to help identify dump sites for murder victims.

Examining a range of spatial criteria, the models help users consider the type of decisions murderers make when hiding a body. This normally involves a thought process to find the right kind of landscape and vegetation, not too far from a road or car park and walking downhill rather than uphill. Using GIS, students create the different data layers and are able to understand all the different factors in context, to quickly reduce the area to be searched for a body.

Future plans for GIS-Forensics include students evaluating the vulnerability of 2012 Olympic sites to sniper fire, in a similar way in which proximity and viewsheds were used to identify the sniper’s locations in the Beltway shooting in Washington DC, which led to the individual’s capture.

The main benefit from increased exposure to GIS: The new skills being gained. “Graduates will be more employable and can consider jobs which specifically involve GIS. In Forensics for example, they will be able to apply emerging techniques which are relatively new to their discipline. In Europe this area of science is not as mature as in the US and is currently a growth area.” explains Ford.

Increasing the number of students being taught GIS across the School of Applied Sciences is no easy task but the benefits of students developing critical thinking skills through spatial analysis, outweighs any initial logistical challenge for Bournemouth. “As more students start to understand the concepts and potential power and utility of GIS, so other areas of science and industry will benefit. Soon there’ll be a lot more Biologists, Archaeologists Forensic Scientists or Geologists – not just Geographers – able to apply the power of spatial analysis in the real world,” concluded Ford.

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University College London

Bringing real-time GIS to life

UCL uses Esri’s ArcGIS.com to train students how to use GIS to solve complex world challenges in areas such as crime, environmental change, transport, public health and epidemiology. This case study describes a research project that uses ArcGIS.com to examine the distribution of families.


Case study – Higher Education


The Customer

University College London (UCL) is renowned worldwide for its GIS research, both within the Geography department and CASA (the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis). UCL was the first university in the UK to have a lecturer in Geography and examining the spatial world has been in UCL’s DNA for quite some time. In 1833, the newly-founded University of London (now UCL), appointed Captain Alexander Maconochie, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, as its first professor of geography. In more modern times, UCL has played an instrumental role in the development of GIS. Roger Tomlinson, often considered the ‘father’ of GIS, wrote what is arguably the first GIS PhD thesis during his time at UCL.

ArcGIS.com is used to spatially analyse the distribution of surnames for 300 million people in 26 countries

This research project will support historical, genealogical and chromosome research

Students gain experience and skills in using GIS, helping to increase their value to future employers

The Challenge

With a research mission based around a series of ‘Grand Challenges’, UCL’s GIS research work is helping solve problems found in the areas of crime, environmental change, transport, public health and epidemiology.

“In the past, socioeconomic and geo demographic classifications have provided fixed indicators of the social, economic and demographic characteristics of people living within an area. Often regarded as static reports, the output was achieved using fixed data. Today, UCL is using Esri software to develop new real-time, dynamic GIS techniques, which will deliver a lot more value, to users,” concludes Paul Longley, Professor of Geographic Information Science at University College London.

Real-time, bespoke, geo-demographic GIS applications are the next challenge being tackled by the team at UCL and the recent launch of ArcGIS.com will help them become a reality.

“ Today, UCL is using Esri software to develop new real-time, dynamic GIS techniques, which will deliver a lot more value, to users

Paul Longley – Professor of Geographic Information Science

The Solution

Recent achievements include the creation of applications which process incredibly large datasets and also perform analysis fast enough for the application to be of value to the online user. One groundbreaking project examines the spatial distribution of families via their surnames.

Using a database spanning 300 million people in 26 countries, advanced GIS techniques are being applied to examine how value can be derived from such data. Surnames, for example, provide a useful source of information for the analysis of population structure, migrations, genetic relationships and levels of cultural diffusion and interaction between communities.

“The spatial distribution of a surname can tell you a lot about the kind of people who have that name”, explained James Cheshire PhD student and author “We’ve started to extract different conclusions on the spatial history of surnames by applying GIS in new ways, which is useful for understanding issues such as population genetics, or tracing historical migration into Britain during the last 1,000 years or so.”

ArcGIS has helped UCL overcome a range of challenges throughout the course of the project, including dealing with a large International database containing many different data formats, projections and levels of granularity.

“ It is important that students work with industry-standard software such as Esri, as it helps prepare them for jobs in a range of sectors

Paul Longley – Professor of Geographic Information Science

Benefits

When the research is completed, it could easily support historical and genealogical and chromosome research, the examination of settlement trends of ethnic groups, family migration history and even product marketing.

In addition, surnames have been used to develop Onomap classification, (www.onomap. org), where users can take a forename and surname and pinpoint a person’s geographic origins. This can help breakdown the often simple of crude ethnicity categories in a census, to gain a deeper understanding of a population’s structure at neighbourhood scale.

ArcGIS.com is an Esri website for sharing GIS content and building communities. Visitors can access a number of free, ready-to-use base maps for projects and applications, including community maps that have been built with data from organisations around the world; or easily create maps and mash-ups quickly using a JavaScript Web Mapping application. Server based GIS development has taken a big step forward as users can upload complex GIS applications and maps, accessible for anyone to use. It overcomes the issue of working with multiple data formats in a distributed environment and allows users to create mash-ups with Esri created base maps.

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