GIS Update 2018

 GIS Update 2018

I attended GIS Update at The Institute of Geography st Edinburgh University last Friday. This is a closed conference that takes place each year for students at the univeristy taking the M.Sc in GIS (and its derivatives) and former students of the class. It’s a great chance to meet up with former classmates and to meet and network with newer and older students.  My 2016 class had strong representation, with Nathan, Kathryn, Franco, Sean and of course Trevor attending.

I love visiting Edinburgh, I don’t do it nearly enough now, especially when the city is blanketed in sun. Walking back to Waverley Station I could feel how alive the city was with Friday night partygoers coming out and the international accents hanging in the air around me. The city bustled In an eclectic mix of students, locals and tourists.

The day long conference got underway with an interesting talk from Zhiqiang Feng who has been studying the effect of bicycle facilities on cycling to work in the Edinburgh area. There was an interesting correlation between areas of deprivation containing the lowest percentage of people cycling to work. This was followed by William Mackiness asking “Who the hell needs tranquility?”, using social media as a measure. 

Nathan Fenney’s presentation on capturing Britain’s Antarctic heritage in 3D captured my imagination, the British Antarctic Survey are digitising many of the old stations in Antarctica in 3D point clouds to give to architects to help reconstruct them to their former glory. All done through digital photographs, UAV’s and some very smart software.   

I also particularly enjoyed Charlie Moriarty’s presentation regarding the company that he is currently working For, Bird.i, it was particularly interesting as it is startup company from Glasgow that cleans up and provides access to satellite data. 

After the open panel we retired to The Pear Tree for a well deserved drink and further discussion over the days presentation. 

I missed last years GIS Update so it was really good to be able to go to this years. 

St Andrews

As you may have read in my biography in the about page, I completed my Bachelor of Science by reading Geography at The University of St Andrews, Scotland's first University. I have only made a handful of visits since I completed this course. A few occasions to use their laser seive to analyse sediment from Greenland while researching my PhD, but since then I have only made two trips. Once in late December in 2005 with some friends and then again last Sunday.

The thought of returning to a place I became so familiar with after such a long absence has always made me feel a little uneasy. When I was there in 2005 I was horrified that Costa Coffee has opened up, the whole idea of 'chain' shops seemed to go against the idea of St Andrews and its 'lost in time feeling'.

Of course, finding Starbucks, Pizza Express and a whole host of other multinational shops in the city this time certainly shocked me, although if I had thought about it for more than a few minutes before I arrived I would have figured out that this was an obvious progression. 

It's hard going back, it's hard not looking for the familiar signs, the people and the feeling that doesn't seem to be there anymore. I think it was the excitement of being there as a student, not knowing what was going to happen each day. I think I could see it in the eyes of the students that I did see though, I did feel a pinch of jealousy.

Of course, some things never change, the red gowns were adorned by the students coming out from St Salvators Chapel heading towards the Pier Walk, possibly heading to the Hebdomadar's office for sherry, or perhaps a new tradition of heading to Starbucks for a Frappuccino. Trust me, the sherry was always better.

I didn't take many photographs as I was mainly walking around in my own thoughts of years gone by. Click the thumbnail for the large version.

Glasgow University

It was an interesting wander around the University of Glasgow on Sunday. It dredged up a lot of old memories from my time at Glasgow (Caledonian) before I started at the University of St Andrews. I spent just over three months in what is quite possibly the worst place I have ever lived. I think the excitement of living on my own at 17 clouded the fact that the dampness was spreading throughout the flat. When I passed by it on Sunday it looks like it has been renovated. I will never forget the time that the bailiffs appeared at the door looking for the landlord. Fun times!

The walk around this area and the memories that came to me didn't dampen (ouch) my spirits though. It was a great day out, much better than the last trip to Glasgow, mainly because it was in an area that I knew a lot better. There was only three of us on the trip and it was great to meet someone new, Ash, she was a splendid guide for the day as well!

I've posted the photographs that I like below. 



I graduated from The University of Edinburgh on Monday with an M.Sc. in Geographical Information Sciences. I have always felt a bit overwhelmed at the pomp and circus that is the graduation ceremony. It is a time honoured ceremony that is a celebration of completing a course. Celebrating the commitment and hard work that allows the conferring of the academic (in this case) degree. The graduation was at the Usher Hall as the McEwan Hall, where The University of Edinburgh usually has graduation, is undergoing renovation.

I think I find graduation overwhelming as it is nerve-wracking crossing a stage in front of over a few thousand people, trying hard to remember how to walk normally.

I thought I would post a few of the photographs that I took on the day and a couple from friends timelines.


Edinburgh University Class of 2016 GIS / Earth Observation / GIS & Archeology

Kerst and myself.

Maria looking thoroughly delighted!

Nick, Will and Maia discuss the finer points of Python.

Ryan gives the ceremony the thumbs up.

The parental units and myself.

The published list.

Professor Bruno Labour's speech after receiving an honorary degree.

Belated Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day (Canada) occurs on the second Monday of October, our M.Sc. class celebration was a little belated but this didn't stop the celebration going ahead on the 16th of October instead. 

I took a few candid photographs during the evening and these are the shots that are safe for public consumption. I'll apologise here for the shocking standard of these photographs but to be fair there was a lot of whisky and wine going around (but at least I didn't take part in the 'buck fast tasting').

It was a nice evening to mix with the new class as well as catching up with my own class from the M.Sc. course. It's great to hear where my fellow classmates are now working and their new experiences at the forefront of GIS.