Home » Data News

Alex Singleton wins RGS award

Alex Singleton

Professor Alex Singleton wins Royal Geographical Society award

Alex Singleton, CDRC Deputy Director and Professor of Geographic Information Science at the University of Liverpool, has received the Royal Society of Geography’s Cuthbert Peek Award for “contributions to contemporary methods in geography that lie at the boundary between the social and computational sciences”.

Professor Singleton will be presented with his award by the Royal Geographic Society’s President at their annual Medals and Awards ceremony on Friday 6th June.

The Cuthbert Peek Award recognises “those advancing geographical knowledge of human impact on the environment through the application of contemporary methods, including those of earth observation and mapping”.

Professor Singleton is an internationally recognised researcher in the field of geographic data science and urban analytics and has published widely on the subject including the seminal text book “Urban Analytics”. As well as being Deputy Director of the CDRC, he is also Director of the ESRC Data Analytics & Society CDT.

He said: “It is a great honour to receive this award in recognition of the work that my colleagues and I have been able to achieve at the University of Liverpool over the past decade. It is important that Geography remains outward looking, both so that we can benefit from those new technologies and methodologies developed elsewhere, but also to promote greater spatial thinking or engagement outside of the discipline.

“The intersection between Geography and the Computational Sciences provides an incredibly fruitful area of employment for our graduates, where there is significant demand for well-trained students who can apply their technical skills alongside critical thinking and wider situational awareness instilled through their variegated geography education.”

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is the world’s largest Learned Society in Geography, with nearly 15,000 fellows around the globe. This year, their awards recognise 23 different people or organisations for their outstanding contributions to geography. The full list of recipients is available on their website.

Sir Cuthbert Edgar Peek (30 January 1855 – 6 July 1901) was an astronomer and meteorologist, and took part in activities of several learned societies alongside undertaking scientific expeditions to Iceland and Australia.

[Adapted from original article here – https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2022/05/03/prestigious-royal-geographic-society-award-for-geographic-information-science-expert/]

Turing-LIDA Data Study Group reports published

Four hands holding another's wrist to create a united square

Turing-LIDA Data Study Group reports published

Last year, a successful Turing-LIDA Data Study Group took place – an intensive two-week hackathon with 62 researchers, at different stages of their careers and from a number of different countries, rising to one of six challenges set by different organisations. Some amazing research was done in a very short time, and five of the six reports into their findings have now been published:

Sainsbury’s Investigating the impact of the UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy on consumers’ purchases of soft drinks

Morrisons Optimising the supply chain to minimise waste and delivery mileage

Asda Exploring and quantifying the effect of weather on sales

Ordnance Survey Northern IrelandLeveraging LiDAR and Street View data for road feature detection

Network RailAutomatic detection of counterfort drains

Data Study Groups are a perfect opportunity for organisations (Challenge Owners) to test questions/problems quickly and with minimal resource, gaining insight into potential ways to further develop those areas of research.  They also give researchers, at all stages of their careers, the chance to collaborate with others from different institutions and different disciplines, and apply their knowledge to real-world problems.  For more information, visit The Alan Turing Institute’s Data Study Groups page.

Four hands holding another's wrist to create a united square

Introducing CDRC Mapmaker

Example map from CDRC Mapmaker

CDRC Maps is dead, long live CDRC Mapmaker!

CDRC have recently replaced our venerable map website, CDRC Maps, with CDRC Mapmaker! This new flexible repository for visualising many of CDRC’s open datasets, was initially developed by Geolytix and further augmented by our own developers. The website is backed by the CARTO data platform and is cloud hosted.

Web mapping technology has come a long way since CDRC Maps was first released in 2015, with responsive, multi-platform high resolution mapping now commonplace, and CDRC wants to take advantage of these advances to create a better way of visualising our many datasets. Using a new platform also simplifies CDRC’s own processes for adding new maps, allowing our researchers to manage their map configuration using GitHub, and add and update their data using CARTO’s web-based front-end to its data platform. The “command line” is no longer needed to produce maps, and the power of the cloud ensures that our maps remain visible to the world regardless of university infrastructure changes or local issues.

Technical users might be interested to know that the website is built in ES6 JavaScript, using the Vue, Mapbox GL and Bootstrap frameworks, and built and deployed using npm and GitHub. The data is delivered to your browser in the Mapbox Vector Tiles (MVT) format.

The website is structured around presenting two types of maps – metric maps (which show various continuous variables associated with a particular dataset, sliced into groups) and classification maps which categorise areas into a single value (sometimes with a hierarchy of levels) and generally include a pen portrait description of the category.

Users can filter maps based on one or more classification categories or on multiple metric value ranges, and a PDF report can be easily produced with a view of the current map, a key and accompanying text and direct link. Clicking many of the maps will not only present the metrics or portrait, but include statistics on proportions in the current administrative area or a custom drawn region. The user interface is deliberately simple with standard pan/zoom controls, map selector, postcode search and layer toggles – that’s it. 

For our initial release of Mapmaker, there are around 30 maps, covering CDRC classifications such as Consumer Vulnerability and the Internet User Classification (IUC), CDRC metric products such as Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards (AHAH) and Residential Mobility (Churn), and some popular government datasets like the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), VOA building ages and Ofcom broadband speeds/availability. Some of our legacy maps remain on the old CDRC Maps platform which can still be accessed through a special menu option.

We plan to continue to refine and improve CDRC Mapmaker, including a tighter integration with our main CDRC Data platform soon, and make fuller use of the CARTO data platform as a canonical data store for our outputs. 

We hope CDRC Mapmaker forms a useful visualisation tool for some of CDRC’s many data assets, and its filtering and reporting functionality allow CDRC’s data to be viewed and used in new ways.

New datasets from growing partnership with MIAC Analytics

New datasets from growing partnership with MIAC Analytics

The CDRC are pleased to announce the acquisition of new datasets and a developing data partnership with MIAC Analytics.

The House Price Index and the Rental Index contain more than 25 years of monthly county-level data from January 1995 to the present. The data is available in a research-ready state, having been compiled and cleaned by MIAC Analytics. It will be of particular interest to researchers, including Masters students, who are examining questions relating, for example, to movements in the housing market, gentrification of neighbourhoods and geospatial economic indicators. 

The datasets can be found in the CDRC Data Store.  Both are Safeguarded data – access is restricted because of license conditions, but data are not considered ‘personally-identifiable’ or otherwise sensitive. Access is available via a remote service with registration and project approval requirements.

Professor Mark Birkin, CDRC Director, said: “CDRC is delighted to announce these latest data acquisitions arising from our long-standing collaboration with MIAC.  The data represent a timely and welcome addition to the CDRC’s data store, increasing the diversity of our data assets across our core research themes of urban analytics, sustainable and ethical consumption, and healthy lifestyles.  We look forward to continued growth in this partnership, supporting new forms of social research and the development of skills and capacity for both business and the academic sector.”

MIAC Analytics is an independent asset valuation service provider, specialising in property analytics, behavioural modelling, model validation and stress testing.  Established in 1989, their head office is in New York with the UK & Europe office based in Twickenham, working from there in over 16 countries.  They also have an office in Bangalore, India.

David Pickles, Managing Director at MIAC, said: “MIAC place great value on the relationship we already have with CDRC, having previously provided our Property Analytics for use within their Academic Research function. As we look to the future, we plan to explore more ways to work together to address data and modelling challenges such as quantifying climate change risks to the financial system. We are also keen to further our engagement with CDRC in terms of internships – a fruitful way to enhance student experience and career opportunity for students interested in coming into this market.”

New ESRC funding secures CDRC future!

New ESRC funding secures CDRC future!

The Consumer Data Research Centre has been successful in applying to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to continue their data services from April 2022 to September 2024.

This officially marks the next phase for the CDRC, during which the Centre intends to build upon its proven vision and strategy, combining a unique, cloud-based data infrastructure with an established framework for supporting innovative research and capacity building.

The award will allow the CDRC to continue to increase the access, creation, use and awareness of DigitalFootprint Data (DFD) such as geo-spatial, commercial, transactional and sensor data, and advance the quality, quantity and impact of social science research.

This latest endorsement by the ESRC marks the most recent milestone in the continuing evolution of the CDRC since 2014. The award will allow the CDRC to build on our successes, supporting thriving interdisciplinary DFD communities to address the most urgent research and policy questions, which have been raised by both the challenges and opportunities of a post-COVID society.

We were thrilled that our bid was given particularly positive feedback for clearly providing “a strong asset and a foundational infrastructure” and “growing number of research outputs”, as well as “sustaining the foundations of innovative, creative and widely-used data infrastructure across the social sciences”.

The positive funding outcome means that, from April 2022, the Centre will be able to not only maintain its existing infrastructure, but also to foster innovation through partnerships that promote further collaboration across multiple disciplines, both within our local institutions and across a wider network of academic and external stakeholders.

This funding was provided via UKRI ESRC’s World Class Labs budget to support expansions and upgrades to existing social science data infrastructure.

Data News: County Court Judgements (new dataset available)

Maps showing research outputs

Data News: County Court Judgements (new dataset available and potential project ideas)

With our data partner Registry Trust, CDRC can provide access to data on County Court Judgements, which offer a key measure of financial health, both at an individual level, and also at an area and country level. The data are available County Court Judgements, either at an aggregated level (MSOA and Local Authority District) as a Safeguarded product or aggregated to LSOA level and at individual Judgement level as a Secure data product.

These data can be used as input data to a wide range of analyses looking at financial health and a range of other factors. Millie Corless, Data Analyst at Registry Trust, works with these data and performs a wide variety of analyses. However, she only has limited time available to analyse these data, so there are many more potential projects that could be done, with some examples listed below and on the data page.

Prior to working at Registry Trust, Millie completed her masters dissertation through the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme (MDS), working with the Registry Trust, which gave her the time to analyse the data in new and interesting ways. Millie is very interested in health and she looked at the CCJ data and explored its relationship with health.

Her dissertation project assessed geographic and temporal patterns in consumer (individual level) County Court Judgment (CCJ) rate (as an indicator of financial vulnerability), and considered the extent to which general health influences personal financial vulnerability across England and Wales. The project then considered the influence of additional socio-economic variables, such as Tenure and Employment Status, on financial vulnerability. The outcomes highlighted spatio-temporal locales where specific socio-economic variables influence financial vulnerability more, thus where the implementation of health improving policy will tackle the instability. More details available on her blog post.

There are a number of potential topics listed on the CDRC Data page that could be undertaken with CCJ data. These would make a good Masters Dissertation project (Registry Trust will be offering projects through the MDS) or you are welcome to apply to access the data and complete a different project independently.

Potential projects could include:

  • Work on a way to derive and publish a set or range of economic health indicators
  • Predict the future trend of these economic health indices
  • Use data to highlight exceptions and process inefficiencies in public sector entities e.g. exception reporting on court timelines, outcomes that are outside expected benchmarks, highlighting court inefficiencies, bottlenecks or process flaws
  • Improve existing data accuracy and gaps, e.g. impute missing or inaccurate data
  • Explore issues around CCJs and fraud – tackle the myth of the ‘unsound’ CCJ
  • Look at the effect of politics on indebtedness – what relationships are there between Government, national political representation, local representation and indebtedness?
  • Develop the Financial Stress Tracker produced by Registry Trust, to include the self-employed, those on low income, those who have been impacted by COVID and other factors.
  • Focus solely on Scotland or Northern Ireland, as these regions have had less focus at Registry Trust.
  • Get a closer insight into those taking out a judgment, for example which are the most forthright? Why might this be? Are there spatial or temporal trends?

If you are interested, or would like more information, please either reach out to Millie directly (m.corless@registry-trust.org.uk) or email CDRC (info@cdrc.ac.uk).