Alex Singleton

Reader in Geographic Information Science at the University of Liverpool

© 2014. Alex Singleton All rights reserved. About my blog code

Temporal OAC

As part of an ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative grant Michail Pavlis, Paul Longley and I have been working on developing methods by which temporal patterns of geodemographic change can be modelled.

Much of this work has been focused on census based classifications, such as the 2001 Output Area Classification (OAC), and the 2011 OAC released today. We have been particularly interested in examining methods by which secondary data might be used to create measures enabling the screening of small areas over time as uncertainty builds as a result of residential structure change. The writeup of this work is currently out for review, however, we have placed the census based classification created for the years 2001 - 2011 on the new public.cdrc.ac.uk website, along with a change measure.

Some findings

  • 8 Clusters were found to be of greatest utility for the description of OA change between 2001 and 2011 and included
    • Cluster 1- "Suburban Diversity"
    • Cluster 2- "Ethnicity Central"
    • Cluster 3- "Intermediate Areas"
    • Cluster 4- "Students and Aspiring Professionals"
    • Cluster 5- "County Living and Retirement"
    • Cluster 6- "Blue-collar Suburbanites"
    • Cluster 7- "Professional Prosperity"
    • Cluster 8 – "Hard-up Households"

A map of the clusters in 2001 and 2011 for Leeds are as follows:

  • The changing cluster assignment between 2001 and 2011 reflected
    • Developing "Suburban Diversity"
    • Gentrification of central areas, leading to growing "Students and Aspiring Professionals"
    • Regional variations
      • "Ethnicity Central" more stable between 2001 and 2011 in the South East and London, than in the North West and North East, perhaps reflecting differing structural changes in central areas (e.g. gentrification)
      • "Hard-up Households” are more stable in the North West and North East than the South East or London; South East, and acutely so in London, flows were predominantly towards “Suburban Diversity”

Advances in the geodemographic study of population and place

A talk given at the Oxford Institute for Population and Ageing, University of Oxford 4/6/14.


What is so big about big data?

Talk given at National Centre for Geocomputation: Home - NUI Maynooth 21/5/14.


Census Open Atlas Project Version Two

CensusAtlasThis time last year I published the first version of the 2011 Census Open Atlas which comprised Output Area Level census maps for each local authority district. This turned out to be quite a popular project, and I have also extended this to Japan.

The methods used to construct the atlases have now been refined, so each atlas is built from a series of PDF pairs comprising a map and a legend. These are generated for each of the census variable (where appropriate), with the layout handled by Latex. As with demonstrated in the Japan atlas, this also gives the advantage of enabling a table of contents and better description for each map.

Some other changes in version two include:

  • Labels added to the legends
  • Scale bars added
  • Addition of the Welsh only census variables
  • Removal of overly dense labels

When the original project was picked up by the Guardian I made an estimate of the actual number of maps created, however, for this run, I counted them. In total 134,567 maps were created.

Download the maps

The maps can be downloaded from github; and again, the code used to create the maps is here (feel free to fix my code!).

Automated Savings

A manual map might typically take 5 minutes to create - thus:

  • 5 minutes X 134,567 maps = 672,835 minutes
  • 672,835 minutes / 60 = 11,213.9 hours
  • 11,213.9 hours / 24 = 467.2 days (no breaks!)

So, if you take a 35 hour working week for 46 weeks of a year (6 weeks holiday), this equates to 1,610 hours of map making time per year. As such, finishing 134,567 maps would take 6.9 years (11,213.9 / 1,610).

This would obviously be a very boring job; however, it would also be expensive. If we take the median wages of a GIS Technician at £20,030 then the "cost" of all these maps would be 6.9 X £20,030 = £138,207. This toy example does illustrate how learning to code can help save significant money, and indeed what a useful tool R is for spatial analysis.


Advances in Geographic Data Science - Open Data and Systems

Talk given at the EEO-AGI seminar series at the University of Edinburgh 31/1/14.


Clipart Cartography

When members of staff within your department retire, there are usually office clearouts, resulting in piles of interesting old books being given away.

A recent addition to my collection is a cartographic gem from 1995 titled "Statlas UK: A Statistical Atlas of the United Kingdom", produced by the Ordnance Survey. For anyone interested in this post, you can still purchase this atlas second hand for as little as 1p from Amazon Marketplace.

Much to my surprise when I opened the atlas, some of the maps were not quite up to the refined standards of the contemporary Ordnance Survey, including:

Giant Clipart

View PDF

Inappropriate Symbols

View PDF

Bar Chart Attack

View PDF

Dominating Pies!

View PDF

A really scary looking child!

View PDF

You can also download an expanded selection of the maps here.