Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Newcastle - Must be Time to Sit in the Airport

Have just returned from a full but fun time up at Newcastle upon Tyne University. Had an RICS Geomatics Exec meeting followed by an evening lecture by Mike Cooper. No, he didn't mention hydro (see Monday's post) but gave some interesting examples reaching back to circa 2000 BC re: surveying. He also ran circles around us with his mathematical abilities; or it could have just been me. rolleyes

In between this met up with a PhD student we are sponsoring and chatted to various staff about research opportunities. Decided that I fancy visiting South Tyneside College to use their simulator but I'm sure it'll never happen.

It always lovely returning to my old haunt of Newcastle. Just as well as I usually spend extra hours at the airport biding time waiting for my delayed flight (they even cancelled one once). So sat with the Chair of the Geomatics Faculty and tried to put the geo community world to right. I'm sure we didn't!

Monday, 29 October 2007


Seadatanet exists to develop a Pan-European infrastructure for Ocean and Marine Data management.

It looks to be aligned with the broader INSPIRE initiative. INSPIRE exists to allow the creation of a European spatial information infrastructure. Spatial information in Europe is currently fragmented with gaps in availability, lack of harmonisation between datasets at different geographical scales and duplication of information collection.

Off to Newcastle tomorrow for a Geomatics Exec meeting. Looking forward to Mike Cooper's lecture on the history of land surveying. I wonder if he'll slip any hydro in?

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Data Quality Survey

My current job involves looking at how we hold metadata so I was interested to read about the data quality survey. I'm sure I've said it before, but metadata is one of my hobby horses. It's no good people using geo data if they don't know how good it is. A position of 54° 00'N 003° 00'W could be accurate to seconds or degrees; it's all in the metadata. I confess to not being a data modeller and most of the OGC website baffles me unless I take it slowly with a clear head. The ISO standard relating to my current piece of work is 19115:2003 and all I can say is I'm grateful there are others at work who understand this inside out and can advise me.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Raising the Ratio the Exeter Way

Attended a Raising the Ratio meeting in Exeter today. I haven't been to one of these events before shying away from the all-women type of thing but it was actually quite good, despite the odd moment when I thought we were just preaching to the converted. I can't remember when I was last in a room with 50 women and only a handful of men. Quite nice actually. wink

They had a superb speaker, Sandi Rhys Jones. She has a strong presence and is a successful, measured woman. She has been working in the building profession for over 30 years. She's the type of woman I would love to spend hours and hours talking to: the type of female professional I could use as a role model - they are so few and far between in my arena.

This was a joint RICS/Women in Property event. I don't think I've come across WIP before but it's worth a look. It would be great if I could find myself a female mentor.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

University College London

Visited the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering yesterday evening. They had an open evening exhibiting all the various research projects they are running.

A few caught my attention due to their marine applications;
- The impact of new GNSS signals on harbour navigation
- Vertical Offshore Reference Frames (VORF) project
- RTK GPS in the marine environment
- Statistical and GIS-based Approach for Morphodynamic Characterisation and Modelling at Large Spatial and Temporal Scales.

However I was also fascinated by the spectrum of research;
- Bear Ethology Around Romania
- Vulnerability of Reinforced Concrete Structural Elements to Internal Explosions
- Design of Civil Infrastructure - How can we make stations, pavements, trains and other infrastructure more easy to use for all the people?
- Designing an Infection-Resistant Hospital
- Modelling Surface Force Effects on Space Vehicles

Fascinating stuff. I met up with lots of old friends including my Prof from Newcastle (Paul Cross) who is as lovely as ever. A great techie evening biggrin

Saturday, 13 October 2007

I Even Shower the Geo Way

Hey, check out my new shower hat!

I just couldn't resist buying this. It even has bathymetry on it! So I will never get lost in the shower again rolleyes

Monday, 8 October 2007

Inventor Proves Police Camera Wrong

Well, well, so police cameras aren't necessarily that accurate after all. However, few of us have such good evidence to defend ourselves! For £60 plus £20pm you can own your own Autopoietic Mobile Phone Recorder which will record your speed at any moment in time. What I'm not convinced about, though, is how many speeding fines are incorrect. I've only had one speeding fine and I was certainly driving faster than I should have been! Surely if we drive below the speed limit then we won't get fined? Ah, I live in such a simplistic world wink

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Imagery in Africa and a Bit of Bad News

Read the Oct edition of the SDI Africa newsletter this afternoon. There were some interesting articles about the use of imagery; all emanating from NASA Earth Observatory as it turns out.

These forest fires in Algeria are clearly seen on MODIS

as is flooding in Sudan

and volcanic activity in Ethiopea.

It is truly amazing what you can do with imagery but I'm sure we're only using a small part of its real potential.

It was sad to read about the closure of the Geoinformatics and Survey course at the University of Zimbabwe due to lecturer shortages. Who can blame anyone for seeking pastures new? If you read on you'll see that the government is now so short of surveyors it is considering allowing undergrads to work. This will surely reduce the incentive to finish a degree if you can be licensed to operate before completing it? But perhaps few in Zimbabwe are currently in a position to be too long-sighted...

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


Beidou is the Chinese navigational satellite system, also known as 'Compass Satellite Navigation Experiment'.

What is interesting about it is the fact that unlike 'classical' GNSSs that I was bought up with, this only needs 2 satellites to obtain a fix. Not that this does it by magic. It employs a central ground control station and user terminals with receive and transmit. With only two satellites it is accurate to 100m accuracy but with more satellites the accuracy can be increased to under 20m. Because the ground control station sends and receives data from each receiver the system can only serve up to 150 users simultaneously. The user receivers/transmitters are also bulkier than a GPS receiver and need more power. More information can be found here. [Although this only mentions 4 satellites and I believe they have launched a spare 5th, but not currently in a geostationary orbit].

Positions are referred to Beijing 1954 which could be deemed as a limiting factor to expansion as the transformation between Beijing and WGS84 Datum is only defined over China. However I'm sure it wouldn't take much effort to output Beidou coordinates in a different reference frame.