How do Geographers get to know things?

Our student assessment blog series continues and this week’s winning blog piece was co-authored by School of Geography students Amelia Beswick, Sarah Caton, David Hayes, James Liken, Bailey Marchant and Declan Shaw.

Prof Lewin is a Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln UK.

Their blog post surmises a lecture delivered by our School’s Visiting Professor of River Systems, Prof John Lewin.

How do Geographers get to know things? 

What is knowledge? Knowledge is something which you have a strong degree of certainty and understanding about. Geography involves the worldwide knowledge of spatial diversity on a global and local scale (including the study of people, societies, habitations, environment and the relations between these).

In his talk, Professor John Lewin explained the process of gaining knowledge on a topic. Firstly, there will be a concept (the idea based on general knowledge) then a method on how to investigate this will be made, the data from this research will then be analysed and conclusions will be drawn which can be presented. He expressed how gaining knowledge can be quite subjective as an individual’s approach and perspective of a topic could potentially vary, yet their conclusions they draw may be similar, making it hard for individuals to gain their own interpretations from academic journals.

By contrast, the interpretation of data can present a wide variety of conclusions as the analysis of data may be agreed amongst academics yet the points they choose to get to their conclusions may differ.  From this wide-reachnig lecture covering many aspects of geography, we learned that knowledge and understanding of geographical concepts and their interpretations will be different to each person.

School of Geography celebrates GIS Day 2017!

As 15th November marks the annual celebration of GIS day, academics within the School of Geography, University of Lincoln, have utilised GIS and its various applications to enhance their research.

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS for short, are computer software and hardware systems that enable users to capture, store, analyse and manage spatially referenced data. There are various associated applications of GIS, including crime mapping, road networking and remote sensing applications – to name a few.

Using GIS, Dr Gary Bosworth co-authored a paper, “Home-based businesses in Rural England” which was presented at an ESRC seminar in 2014:

Home-based businesses (HBBs) play an important role in rural settlements where the scale of economic activity is lower and their social function can often be more significant. However, as small enterprises operating from a residential address, they are often overlooked by policy-makers resulting in their potential contribution to rural development being under-valued. This paper draws on Census data for England to identify the scale of home-working and HBBs in the more rural districts of England.’

GIS was used to map 2011 Census data to show the rural urban spread of home-based businesses in England as the basis for ongoing research to better understand their distinct characteristics and challenges the distribution of home-based businesses across the United Kingdom, as illustrated below, Figures 1 and 2.

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Integrating Spatial Data to Mathematical Models

As part of student’s studies at the School of Geography, they have been tasked with planning, creating and publishing blog posts in their tutor groups, summarising lectures from internal and external guest speakers. The collaborative blog posts are then reviewed by School Academics and graded on style, subject and content.

Tutor Group 3, (comprising Amelia, Sarah, David, Connor, Bailey & Declan) wrote the following blog post, which was selected by School of Geography Academics as this week’s winning blog post!

“Integrating Spatial Data to Mathematical Models

This week’s lecture from Dr Dilkushi de Alwis Pitts explained how spatial data can be integrated into a range of models, as well as discussing the future of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and how it is becoming ever more accessible.

The first of the models included agent-based modelling, which essentially simulates the interactions between two entities. Within Dr Dilkushi’s work, this has been used effectively to identify a trend between Mosquito Blood meals and wet seasons to help reduce the risk of malaria. Given the ever-changing resilience of the insect, however, she went on to state that this can be somewhat difficult to capture.

Other applications of integrating spatial data to mathematical models include hydrological and hydrodynamic modelling. The latter considers the factors affecting heat change within Lake Ontario to simulate a thermal bar, while hydrological models, on the other hand, was used to model the hydrological parameters of the Mekong river basin and the flow to Tonle Sap lake. Remotely sensed spatial resources such as NDVI or Land cover data were used in the model as input data.

While concluding, Dr Dilkushi explained the SPACES feature which provides Species Distribution Model algorithms with formatted data layers. So, with the increased accessibility of remotely sensed data, it is likely that GIS will become even more useful in the years to come.”