About Anne

Anne is service manager for Digimap for Schools, Digimap for Colleges and GoGeo. Having a degree in Geography and an MSc in GIS means naturally she adores looking at maps. But Anne firmly believes Digimap for Schools can be of use across many parts of the curriculum and finds the addition of historical maps particularly exciting! Anne is looking forward to ensuring Digimap for Colleges is a great success in the FE sector also. Having worked in the wider GI industry before joining EDINA she understands the valuable role geoportals like GoGeo can play in the discovery and reuse of geospatial data.

Free Digimap for Schools training with Darren Bailey from Ordnance Survey

We have four exciting new dates where the fabulous Darren Bailey, Ordnance Survey Schools Delivery Programme Manager, will deliver superb Digimap for Schools training sessions.  If the sessions are in your area, you really should attend, even if you’re not subscribed, come along and have a taster session or if you are subscribed and you feel you’re not making the most of what the service could offer, please come along too. Session dates are:

  • 14th June Fleetwood
  • 21st June (morning) Ely
  • 21st June (afternoon) Bolton
  • 22nd June Ormskirk

To find out more and register to attend, please email darren.bailey@os.uk

Special Recognition Award for Digimap for Schools

Having celebrated our fifth birthday a couple of weeks earlier, the Digimap for School’s team at EDINA were thrilled to receive a Special Recognition Award from the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers (SAGT).


Left to Right:  Emma Diffley, Anne Robertson, Peter Burnhill, Carol Blackwood, Johnny Hay, Dimitrios Sferopoulos

SAGT gave the award in recognition that Digimap for Schools is a successful resource that extends across year groups in primary and secondary.  They feel it is also a resource that provides a variety of tools for a number of topics within the Geography curriculum and the Curriculum for Excellence Broad General Education.  Amanda Ruffles, SAGT “We wanted to recognise it as a special reward given that it has been successful over the five years and will continue to be a resource that helps many students and teachers for years to come”. 

Birthday celebration

Yesterday EDINA and Ordnance Survey colleagues took time out of their regular Digimap for Schools planning meeting to celebrate five years of delivering Ordnance Survey digital mapping to the primary and secondary school sectors.  Peter Burnhill, EDINA Director, praised everyone’s work on the service, particularly the tireless travelling by Ordnance Survey’s Darren Bailey across the length and breadth of Great Britain to promote and run workshops on the service.  A toast was made to continuing to grow our user community over the next five years!

Digimap for Schools birthday celebration

L-R Pete O’Hare, Anne Robertson, Peter Burnhill, Carol Blackwood, Emma Diffley, Elaine Owen, Darren Bailey, Johnny Hay, Dimitrios Sferopoulos

Kelso Higher Computer Science pupils testing the usability of Digimap for Schools

Yesterday afternoon we had a visit to our EDINA offices on Causewayside from 15 Kelso High School pupils, currently studying for their Higher Computer Science. The pupils were joined by Miss Cruickshank and Mr Warner who had organised the visit. The aim of the visit was to give the pupils a flavour of developing information systems for real in the work place. We used Digimap for Schools as an exemplar to illustrate service design and development. I was joined by EDINA colleagues Jackie Clark, web and graphic designer and Dimitrios Sferopolous, software engineer. Following our presentation, we engaged the pupils in some task-based usability testing of Digimap for Schools. Being complete novices to the service it was a superb opportunity to observe how a group of pupils respond to tasks such as: find your school; measure the playing fields; find which houses fall within 100m of the tennis courts; identify features present in the contemporary mapping of Kelso which existed in the 1890s mapping also. Being a very bright bunch, they were pushing the service to it’s limits very quickly, even asking – can the buffer tool select the features it intersects with – demonstrating an instinctive understanding for spatial analysis – impressive! In a group setting the students then informed us of what tasks they had found intuitive and easy to carry out and then those tasks they found to be counterintuitive – it was invaluable feedback…..

Functions/features that were liked and were intuitive:

  • Fading easily between contemporary and historic mapping
  • Free hand polygon tool x 2
  • Saving and opening maps
  • Text labels not scaling even when you zoomed in/out – you could see Kelso label when extent was all of GB
  • Uploading images
  • Being able to change font size and colour
  • Search bar
  • Turning annotations on and off
  • Tools straight forward and easy
  • Annotations remaining across contemporary and historic maps
  • Easy to understand icons
  • Zooming in & out
  • Buffer tool
  • Measurement tools

Things that weren’t liked / weren’t intuitive:

  • Losing your measurement when closing the measurement tool
  • Knowing how to/if one can make changes to saved maps
  • Sub menus hard to find x 2
  • Area/distance label v measurement tool
  • Text labels not scaling properly
  • Only one toolbar open at once
  • Digitising
  • No undo esp if an annotation is accidentally deleted
  • Rotate label not available
  • Drop down/annotation menu taking up too much map
  • Annotating when map area is off screen
  • Scale limitation for historical mapping
  • Mouse scroll and zooming not working in sync
  • Historical maps not drawing despite slider being dragged

Following the hands on session, Dimitrios led the pupils through a small coding exercise he had prepared enabling the pupils to pull the MapStream for Schools WMS service we offer to schools into OpenLayers, an opensource javascript library for map rendering and see the code working as the mapping data zoom in and out and add a pin to the map. I think the students found this particularly engaging and it is my hope to work with Mr Warner to create learning materials around this EDINA schools service demonstrating the relevance of spatial data to pupils studying Higher and Advanced Higher Computer Science.

2020 schools and rising!

Over the weekend the number of schools subscribing to Digimap for Schools broke the 2000 barrier! This jump in subscriptions is a result of all primaries in West Lancashire taking out a subscription. Interestingly it’s not Geography that is the driver behind this whole of authority sign up, rather it’s for school sport and in particular, orienteering, where interest has come about. School sport in West Lancashire is delivered by the West Lancashire School Sport Partnership. Their Partnership Development Manager, Mark Forster, says ‘I manage PE and School Sport across a cluster of primary schools and plan to deliver a programme of Orienteering to the schools. One of the barriers to this is the absence of a high quality orienteering map for each school. Digimap for Schools would not only support us to develop orienteering maps but I have been impressed by the other potential cross curricular opportunities it can provide schools’. Mark has offered to undertake a case study of the impact the service has in West Lancashire primary schools.  We are thrilled to have these new primaries join us and look forward to working with Mark and sharing the case study with you.

Views from Geodata 2014 event at Glasgow Science Centre

Conor Smyth, Head of Research and Geodata Services at EDINA shares his thoughts on this annual event….I attended the annual international Geodata 2014 ‘Innovative Thinking, Creative Solutions’ seminar event series held this week at the Glasgow Science Centre – an excellent (and fun!!) event venue located along the re-developed banks of the River Clyde.

The Geodata seminar series, now in its 12th year, has managed to build a significant following over the years. In addition to being a ‘free’ event – the programme offers delegates the opportunity to hear from those at the centre of geographic information technology, industry innovators, as well as offering excellent networking opportunities. With an adjoining exhibition too, delegates can also gain insight into the latest developments in technology and equipment and even become members of organisations such as AGI, RICS and BCS. To round off the event’s attractiveness, delicious ‘treats’ are always served at the last break before event close – certainly a nice touch that keeps the delegate numbers up to the end!

This year’s event was very well attended, with the usual varied mix of presentations, real life case studies and examples of best practice. In addition to the initial ‘Ignite’ talks, where all exhibitors were allowed 1 minute air time, the event had 13 presentations – across 4 sessions – given by a number of commercial providers (some more known than others) as well as public sector and/or membership organisations (BGS, the British Cartographic Society and the Association for Geographic Information). There were approximately 14 exhibitor stands at the event.

Whilst I did not get the opportunity to attend all the talks, I was suitably impressed with the 1spatial presentation ‘We’ve got a situation. Build us a web-GIS….and quickly’ who demonstrated how map services created by ArcGIS for Server and other external map services can be published as fully operational web-GIS in a matter of minutes, without having to programme. For me, the best presentation of the day was the last presentation presented by the AGI’s Abigail Page entitled ‘Horizon Scanning’. Abigail gave a strong, inspiring and very personal account of developments and trends in geospatial, including key ‘take-aways’ from the AGIs very successful programme of events across the UK this year on the theme of ‘The Big Five’ (that started in Glasgow back in March 2014 on the subject of Future Cities).

I look forward to attending the Geodata 2015 event next year, planned for a ‘to be announced’ venue in Edinburgh. Before then, EDINA staff will be present manning an exhibition stand at the Geodata 2014 showcase London event at the Ilec conference centre in London on the 4th December 2014. Hopefully, another successful showcase event like last years!

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New detailed online maps covering post-War Edinburgh and London

Tony and I were contacted yesterday by our colleague Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland with the exciting news that NLS have made freely available their earliest editions of Ordnance Survey National Grid maps at 1:1250 scale covering Edinburgh and London.  These were Ordnance Survey’s most detailed maps in the 20th century, and they show nearly all permanent features of over 1 square metre in size. They show excellent detail of commercial and residential buildings, railway stations, pubs, hotels, docks, factories and parks, as well as house names and numbers.

The maps can be viewed as a georeferenced overlay and as a dual-map / side-by-side viewer, allowing direct comparison with modern Google or Bing maps:

Edinburgh   georeferenced overlay    side-by-side viewer

London         georeferenced overlay    side-by-side viewer

Chris tells us this mapping layer will expand geographically over the next year as NLS continue to scan more OS National Grid post-War mapping.  To whet your appetite we’ve added a few sample London maps below.

King's Cross and St Pancras Stations

King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations

Isle of Dogs docks

Isle of Dogs docks

South Bank Festival of Britain site

South Bank Festival of Britain site

Chris would love you to come and visit the NLS site and browse through these fantastic 1940s-1960s maps for Edinburgh and London.

Big Data discussions

On Tuesday, Conor Smyth, Head of Research and Geodata Services at EDINA attended the fourth Geo: The Big 5 event on Big Data hosted at IBM HQ, London.

The objective of the event was to provide a forum for knowledge exchange of the opportunities that flow from the nexus of big data and location to private and public sector businesses, incorporating technical concepts, business value and real-world use cases.

Around 90 delegates attended.  Conor observed, unfortunately, that academic representation was low amongst those 160 as those attending came to hear a number of excellent Keynote and invited speakers deliver presentations in dual stream (strategy and technical) conference programme format covering themes relating to:

Concepts – What is big data, how does location augment it and why should I care?

Data Management – Hasn’t location data always been big?

Predictive Analytics – What does location bring to the party?

Use Cases and real applications – Where is big data and location really adding business value?

Conor’s summary of the keynotes points to a set of particularly interesting speakers:

Harvey Lewis, Director of Data and Analytics research at Deloitte introduced the three Ws of ‘Big Data: What, Why, WHERE?’ WHAT is it? WHY is it important? WHERE does it come from and WHERE is it going?

Dr Phil Tetlow, Chief Architect for Big Data at IBM (UK) provided an excellent presentation on ‘The Power of Spimes’, the combination of space and time information (Spime) to create something compelling (i.e. value) that differentiate organisations in the marketplace.

Mike Whiteledge, Senior Insight Manager, (Information Management team), Marks and Spencer focused on the challenges and opportunities of the changing retail environment and customer behaviour coupled with technological advances in data handling capabilities that has allowed M&S to refine their customer offer and channel to market driving overall business benefit through the use of geographical data.

I particularly like the M&S example. I recently presented to the Scottish Learning Festival on ensuring tomorrow’s workforce are spatially literate. I highlighted the number of sectors that use geographic information and why teachers should be making use of the learning outcomes within the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence to ensure pupils at secondary schools are familiar with geographic information in an ICT setting. Wish I’d had the M&S example for that session!

Getting back to Geo: The Big 5 event, other speakers provided sectoral representation from Google, Ordnance Survey, Consultancy, Technology and Telecommunication areas.

Conor’s overall view was the event was upbeat, informative, very engaging and an excellent opportunity to hear, meet and learn from some of the leading thinkers in this space, in addition to wider networking opportunities throughout the day. But he did feel it disappointing that academic representation was low. And this sentiment follows on last month’s post on why attend commercial events – grounding oneself in how industry today are making use of GI is useful for us all.

The event forms part of a year-long series of activities marking the 25th Anniversary of the AGI and material from each event will inform a series of white papers, leading to the publication of the AGI’s third foresight report predicting future trends through to 2020.

Scottish Learning Festival 2014 highlights

Last week Carol and I manned a stand at Scottish Learning Festival 2014. We had a wonderful time talking to so many teachers and educational specialists, everyone loves Digimap for Schools once they see it, it’s always an uplifting couple of days. One of the themes of the conference was employability skills – securing a highly educated, well prepared and well motivated young workforce able to compete in a global market. To address this theme I organised a session on Knowing their Place – Improving the Spatial Literacy of Tomorrow’s Workforce and was joined by Lisa Allen from Barrhead High School and Murdo MacDonald from Bellahouston Academy to demonstrate how their use of Digimap for Schools is ensuring their pupils have well developed spatial literacy skills. I set out a broad picture of how geographic information is used across many industries and identified learning outcomes within the Curriculum for Excellence which allow for students to analyse and use various types of geographic information and suggested that Digimap for Schools is an excellent starting point for working with geographic information in an ICT based setting. Lisa followed with some superb examples from Barrhead High including mapping urban and rural land use; calculating building density; flow line mapping and proportional circles for spheres of influence. Murdo complemented Lisa’s examples by highlighting the use of historical mapping to show change over time and stressed how useful it was for pupils to be able to access the service from home and it’s relevance for pupils completing their Duke of Edinburgh Award programme. Please check out Lisa and Murdo’s examples for some inspiring ideas!

Impress your history colleagues!

On Saturday I presented at a knowledge exchange event for teachers of Scottish history at the national musuem of scotland.  My presentation focused around how Digimap for Schools can be used to bring historical events to life.  In addition to showing how our new historical maps are superb for highlighting the change in our landscape at then end of the 1890s (as in this illustration of Friockheim junction nr Forfar)
Friockheim now
Friockheim 1890s
I also highlighted how contemporary maps show a wealth of historical knowledge.  To do this I set a quiz.  Having spent many wonderful family holidays in East Lothian with my young children I thought of a particular iconic place then gave the audience 8 interesting historical facts.  I want to share these facts with you so that you can impress your colleagues with some history trivia!  This place:
  • Was settled by an early Christian hermit in the 6th century
  • In the early 15th century King James I imprisoned his political enemies here
  • By the 16th century was the location of one of Scotland’s most important castles
  • Mary Queen of Scots had a garrison of 100 men stationed here in early 16th century (incl French troops)
  • In 1546 the Lauder family rebuilt the small chapel above the castle
  • After the Battle of Killiecrankie, it was the only Jacobite stronghold, until in 1690, 2 years after the battle, they were starved into submission
  • Features in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1893 sequel to Kidnapped
  • In 2010 during his visit here David Attenborough  described this place as one of the wildlife wonders of the world
Contemporary mapping of this place shows some of these historic features.
Bass Rock annotated
With use of the annotation tools, the island’s history can come to life…….
Bass Rock annotated
We hope you enjoy this example of how your history colleagues could use the service.  If you don’t already have one of our staffroom posters, download one here: http://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk/Resources/flyers/staffroom_poster.pdf