Thursday, 14 February 2013

Maps and Blogs - Living Streets KX local group at TSGIS 15 Feb

Maps and Blogs 15 Feb for London Trainees and Students of GIS

Using the Web to enable Community activism

I spoke about the simple geographical information systems the local group uses, like maps and blogs. Invited via Adam Edwards, UCL and Neighbourhood Forum King's Cross

Participatory Design - Hanzl 2007:300 (Fig 4) Net participation – classification. after (Hudson-Smith et al., 2002) from "Information technology as a tool for public participation in urban planning: a review of experiments and potentials" in the Journal, "Design Studies" Volume 28, Issue 3, May 2007, Pages 289–307 

Link to this blog 

Our Kings Cross based local volunteer group uses simple online geographical information systems like maps and blogs. I am an architect and urbanist and interested in how GIS is used for participation in the community by non-experts.

Livings Streets Kings Cross used a google map to discuss alternative routes to the towpath for walking and cycling in King's Cross. Urban 'permeability' for commuting pedestrians and cyclists is relevant to the local transport planners working on regeneration and the gyratory removal. The Neighbourhood Forum in the area is closely interested (how I met Adam) and the community debates this, and permeability of the area in light of the new Google HQ, through the hyperlocal news site Kings Cross Environment and facebook.

Link to Living Street KX local group google map of towpath
working with Canal Trust developing alternative cycle routes and bridge (#googlebridgeKX)

Link to Fix my Transport Kings Cross          
(see also Fix My Street                               

Spacehive KX                                             

King's Cross Environment                           


February 15th 2013 5:15pm K4U.12 King's College London, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

This session will focus on technology and applications of GIS in an urban context and "big data" and will be comprised of five speakers giving 15 minute presentations.  This will be followed by a 15 minute panel Q+A session.  

Background to the session


Matt Leach, Community Insight Democratising Data and Mapping in the Housing sector
Matt will be speaking about and demonstrating and its recently launched sister product, and outlining ambitious plans to develop the platform further during 2013.

Roger Beecham, City University
Using visual analytics to explore gendered cycling behaviours within a large urban bike share scheme
Analysing over 10 million journeys made by 135,000 customers, Roger’s talk will explore differences between men’s and women’s usage of London’s Cycle Hire Scheme. He will demonstrate how, through depicting customers’ journeys spatially and at various temporal resolutions, relatively sophisticated insights into gender and cycle behaviour can be inferred.

Sue Grimmond, King's College London
Analysis of Surface Characteristics to Understand Urban Climate
This talk will showcase the use of vegetation characteristics in GIS data for London. Using LIDAR (NERC/ARSF and others) flights over London vegetation characteristics have been determined.  These data are then used with other derived surface characteristics to model processes at three spatial scales in London – city wide, local scale (around Strand Campus) and micro-scale. Global and London models of anthropogenic heat flux will also be briefly shown.
KCL contributors to this work include former Post-doc Dr Fredrik Lindberg (now Goteborg Univ. Sweden), Dr Thomas Loridan (now RMS), Simone Kotthaus (PhD student, KCL), and Lucy Allen (MSc EMMM, now RGS/IBG).

Jonathan Reades, King's College London
Pulse of the City: what large behavioural data sets can tell us about cities
Jon will be providing a brief overview of his work with telecommunications and transport providers, and highlighting some of the ways in which this can be applied to the study of transport and city planning.

Greg Cowan, Living Streets
Using the Web to enable Community activism
Greg will be speaking about the simple geographical information systems the local group uses, like maps and blogs.


Dear Adam, 

It was me you met on Saturday at the Neighbourhood Forum Launch, and I/we would be delighted to talk with your GIS Student and Trainee Group about how we use (fairly non-technical) geographical information systems to help develop our approach to living streets. (eg. see footer)

Besides walking, talking and a bit of guerilla gardening, we work mostly through simple public online mapping, geotagging and blogging and social networking tools, as we are not GIS 'experts'.

regards, Greg Cowan
King 's Cross Living Streets group chair

I met one of your chaps at my local Neighbourhood Forum (Kings Cross) and would be interested to know if you would be able to send a speaker to talk about your work to our GIS Student and Trainee group? We would be interested in particular in the way you use GIS to help develop your approach to living streets as well as raise awareness of their use and function in London.

Our group is a network of students and graduates from nine London universities, as well as allied groups in land survey and geomatics. Our website is and we are also on Facebook.

We have approached several other organisations such as Groundwork, and we recently hosted the Canals and Rivers Trust. Perhaps it would be interesting to combine the talks and create a bit of a panel discussion?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Adam Edwards

King's Cross Spacehive

Our Spacehive for King's Cross Gyratory :

King's Cross Square will soon open: but what will happen to the streets and paths separating it from its surroundings?
Towns slammed for wasting Portas cash, but others are embracing the Web to “crowdfund” life back into UK’s battered town centres 
A row around the slow progress being made by councils handed £1.2m in grants to rebuild battered high streets is building with predictable fervour. 
The Independent has reported that the so-called "Portas Pilots" have spent just 12 per cent of the £1.2m awarded in May, citing Freedom of Information Requests sent to councils.
The "town team" have also received criticism for spending £1,600 on a Peppa Pig costume and nearly £1,000 on postage, according to the paper.
But other towns across the UK have embraced crowdfunding, where the cost of civic projects is shared via the Web, to kickstart town centre revival. 
One town team, in Mansfield, took a portion of the Portas cash and raised the rest of the money they needed to pay for free town centre Wi-Fi by putting their project on
Business groups as far a field as Swansea, Ealing, Mansfield, Ramsgate, High Wycombe and Somerset have an array of creative initiatives grabbing local attention – and local cash.
A group outside Edinburgh turned an old phonebox into a microgallery, while a project in High Wycombe is turning empty shops into hubs to train young entrepreneurs.
Experian, the data giants, have agreed the first national match-funding initiative, offering Spacehive projects chunks of a £100,000 pot to get funding campaigns moving. 
Crowdfunding was pioneered in the USA by Kickstarter, which would typically be used to fund creative and digital projects. Spacehive takes the model to public space, and those who pledge only get charged if projects hit their funding targets. Bidders give money philanthropically – so they don’t retain any financial ownership over projects. But of course, those pledging towards local art projects or kids playgrounds get to benefit from using the great things they fund.
Nesta, the government’s innovation charity, has predicted that £15 billion would be raised in the UK alone through crowdfunding in 2015. 
Chris Gourlay, founder of, said:
“Getting our high streets back on track isn’t going to happen overnight but by embracing the Web we can tap into new sources of funding and create more cohesive communities. Crowdfunding is already enabling some brilliant ideas to come to fruition, and what we need to do is embrace local creativity without letting it get stifled amid bureaucracy and waste.” 
Notes for editors:
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is like a financial version of the concept underpinning Wikipedia - the idea that many hands make lighter work. The model works by taking online cash pledges - from businesses, public bodies and ordinary members of the public – and using them to fund popular projects.
As well as raising money, crowdfunding maximises community engagement. Even though some people may only contribute a few pounds, every contribution represents a degree of ‘buy-in’ that accentuates their sense of ownership of their community.
The model was pioneered in the USA by Kickstarter, which has been used to fund hundreds of millions of dollars worth of creative projects: from an Iraqi Shakespeare group who wanted to attend Oregon Shakespeare Festival through to new feature films. 
What is Spacehive? is a crowdfunding website specifically designed for the built environment. It’s been live since March and is now catching on across the UK.  
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, BITC and the BPF and co-designed by Deloitte, the social enterprise maximises funding sources by allowing cash raised through the site to be combined with grants and other funding streams. People are only charged if the projects hit their targets. offers bespoke project management tools for public space initiatives. Each project is also verified by independent partner organisations (ATCM is one of them) to ensure they are viable before they start funding.
Spacehive projects have already attracted funders such as Tesco, Asda and Deloitte, as well as celebrity support from Stephen Fry, David Suchet and Ian Botham. 

Source: Spacehive Press Release 14 February 2013
Andrew Teacher/Blackstock/+44 7877423997/