View of the Thames

The Full Stack: Tools & Processes for Urban Data Scientists

Recently, I was asked to give talks at both UCL’s CASA and the ETH Future Cities Lab in Singapore for students and staff new to ‘urban data science’ and the sorts of workflows involved in collecting, processing, analysing, and reporting on urban geo-data. Developing the talk proved to be a rather enjoyable opportunity to reflect on more than a decade in commercial data mining and academic research – not only did I realise how far I had come, I realised how far the domain had come in that time.

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Land Registry Consultation #2: Reasons to Respond

In some circles (e.g. mine) news that the government is trying (again) to sell off the Land Registry has caused something of a stir. The curtain closed on the first act of this drama in March 2014, by which time 91% of respondents to the consultation opposed the Land Registry’s transition to a service delivery company. Apparently, it wasn’t the overwhelming opposition from, well, everyone that scuppered the deal, it was Vince Cable.

Government appears to have decided that if your first consultation doesn’t go the way you want, then why not try again with a more radical option? Should you worry?

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Installing PostgreSQL Extensions on Mac OS X

I’ve been making a lot of use of PostgreSQL and PostGIS for working with geo-data over the past year and, having finally gotten over my hatred of the non-standard administrative commands, I am seriously impressed with what this setup makes possible. Even on a MacBook Air with just 8GB of RAM! However, one area where I’ve run into problems is the use of extensions on OS X so this post is intended as a handy reference for how to install them.

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Peer Programming for Academics

I recently wrote up some thoughts on the value of peer programming as a tool for academic use in course planning and administration. The short answer: really useful but, like all things, best used in moderation.

Read more at: Peer Programming for Academics

Mapping the Changing Affordability of Manchester

Building on yesterday’s post about my London affordability maps, here are the equivalent maps for the Manchester area (sorry Liverpool, I’ll get there!) from 1997 and 2012. It’s obviously a very different picture in terms of price, volume and distribution; these differences were well-known anecdotally but a lot of the detail was hidden until the Land Registry opened up its pricing data and, for my money, this represents one of the most useful and timely open data sets available.

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Mapping the Changing Affordability of London

Last night I discovered how many of my friends watch C4’s Dispatches since quite a few of them texted me to say that they had seen me talking about property affordability on “The Great British Property Divide”. However, since Dispatches has to somehow keep the running time down to just 30 minutes, there’s not much of a chance in the show to really explore the data underpinning my chat with Morland. So with that it mind, below are links to A0-sized static data visualisations.

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History of Telephony: Funded PhD Award with King’s College London, BT and the Science Museum Group

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded doctoral student to join King’s College London, BT Archives, and the Science Museum Group in late September 2015 or early January 2016 to investigate the impact of the telephone landline network on British society and culture(s).

The project is informed by the rise of the Internet and social media, the interest this has generated in understanding how networks grow and evolve over time, and how this can be connected to wider changes in society. The comprehensive historical and technical archive managed by BT represents a unique resource for researchers, grounding an analysis of ‘impact’ in an understanding of the network as an object materialised through a range of artefacts: from physical cables and switches, to abstract statistics on usage by homes and businesses.

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Pint of Science: Curious About the Housing Crisis?

As a follow-on to my earlier piece on Hex-Binning Land Registry Data, here’s a talk I gave on the housing crisis as part of the Pint of Science Festival a couple of weeks back.

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Affordability Changes

Hex Binning Land Registry Data

One of the known problems with choropleth maps is that small zones, even if they contain very significant values, tend to get lost in amongst much larger zones. A current example is that the ridings in London are much smaller than those outside of London, so it can be hard to tell what’s happening in the capital if you are looking at a map of the entire UK. One solution to this is the hexagonal bin. Continue reading

2 Funded PhD Positions at King’s

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really pleased to be able to share details about two PhDs at King’s for which I have funding: one to look at the growth and evolution of the UK’s landline network, and one to look at the interface between smart city systems and urban governance. Read on for details about each.

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