Bringing Maps to Life

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On the 4th May, Manchester Informatics and the Manchester Urban Institute joined forces to host the ‘Data Visualisation in the Smart City – Bringing Maps to Life’ seminar, including talks from Vin Sumner (Clicks & Links), Richard Kingston (The University of Manchester), Matt McCall (Sparta Digital) and Simon Navin (Ordnance Survey).

The seminar began with a demonstration from Vin Sumner on the virtual reality (VR) that Clicks and Links have provided for CityVerve, Transport for London (TfL) and Crossrail. VR has been used on the TfL project in order to help create a virtual crowd simulation to examine the effects of different crowd management strategies.

In the Crossrail project, Clicks and Links will be using VR to create a toolkit that allows engineers to visit a virtual version of the building site; therefore developing plans for the project will be easier than ever before. Some of the equipment was available to test after the event; it was exciting to see the solutions that VR offers first hand. As the demand for VR solutions continue to grow and Clicks and Links will be there to offer solutions. 

Richard Kingston from the School of Environment, Education and Development at the University was next up to speak about the geospatial work happening on campus. Richard started with General Election data from 2015 showing the difference between the geographic view of the results, the consistency view and the population view. It will be interesting to see how this geospatial data will change in the aftermath of June 8th.

Commute Flow is a project aiming to inform transportation policy and investment and to understand the socio-spatial dimensions of travel to work flows. Finding out where people live and travel to and from work allows policymakers to make more informed decisions about where to build infrastructure and to support employment. The Commute Flow toolkit enables policy and decision-makers to test various scenarios for future transport investment depending on problems they have posed.

Sparta Digital was next up to present their work as part of the CityVerve project. By using the sensor network and the Internet of Things, Sparta have been able to develop a game called the Zodiac Hunt which is similar to the 2016 global hit, Pokémon Go. The Zodiac hunt is a fun and interactive quest where the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals are virtually scattered around the city centre.

Sparta are also using the network to develop a concierge app that will help to guide users around the city using sensors and interactive bus stops. Sparta is also working with Transport for Greater Manchester to build predictive models to create a better traffic management system for the city. 

The final speaker of the day, Simon Navin from Ordinance Survey started with the history of OS before moving onto the current geospatial activities they are involved in.

“Prince William, Duke of Cumberland realised that the British Army did not have a good map of the Scottish Highlands to locate Jacobite dissenters and therefore commissioned a survey of the area that became OS in 1791.”

Ordnance Survey are involved in CityVerve as well as a number of other Internet of Things projects. Partners across IoT projects need world class geospatial data and OS provide dynamic solutions. Solving urban problems as Simon claimed would be impossible without the services that OS offers; by mapping Manchester, organisations such as Clicks and Links can have a better understanding of the area. Also, data visualisation and geospatial data allows policymakers to offer better recommendations regarding infrastructure development. Another project OS are involved in is Digital Britain, a very exciting project that seeks to create a digital version of Britain that will change when the physical world does.

Thanks again to our speakers for their presentations, if you have any questions regarding the event then do not hesitate to contact ben.pringle@manchester.ac.uk .

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