School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Alistair Ford

Researcher in Geomatics

Background

Background

I joined Newcastle University in 1998 as an undergraduate in Geographic Information Science. Since 2004 I have worked as a researcher applying GIS to a number of diverse applications, including land-use change, climate simulations, urban classification, transport modelling, and risk assessment. During this work I have been a member of a number of multi-disciplinary projects, both widening my experience of working with researchers from other disciplines and broadening my understanding of a diverse number of application areas.

I am a member of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, having worked on the Tyndall Cities programme conducting urban integrated assessment of climate change adaptation and mitigation in London. This work led to the EPSRC ARCADIA project, examining and modelling urban climate impacts, and the FP7 RAMSES project, conducting cost assessments of urban climate adaptation options. These projects have led to collaborations in London, Shanghai, Antwerp, Bilbao, and Newcastle with city decision-makers, industrial stakeholders, and NGO organisations.

The focus of my research is the provision of tools and models to aid decision-makers. Currently, I am developing spatial analytical tools within GIS for integrated spatial modelling and assessment of climate change impacts and socio-economic/land-use change. This work has involved both the development of spatial interfaces to climate change outputs (e.g., EARWIG) and also spatially-explicit models of city infrastructure for predictive land-use modelling and climate change impact assessment (e.g., Tyndall Cities programme).

Recent work has developed these concepts further to include the direct and indirect impacts of climate events on city systems in the form of heatwaves or flood events. In ARCADIA, I have examined the impact of extreme temperatures on railway networks and the knock-on effects these disruptions can have on the wider urban economy. This work will be further developed in RAMSES, including new climate hazards (e.g. extreme rainfall and air quality) in order to better understand the true costs of future climate change to urban areas.

I have presented my work widely at national and international conferences and symposia, and facilitated and moderated at events such as the ICLEI Open European Day in Bonn and the 2015 ECCA conference in Copenhagen. I also contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, delivering lectures on GIS, spatial modelling, and climate change in urban areas. I have also delivered a number of courses to local governments and consultancies involved in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Qualifications

1998-2001: 1st Class Honours in Geographic Information Science

Previous Positions

2014 - 2017 Research Associate (EU FP7) RAMSES project – Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation, and Sustainable Development for Cities. Working on the development of new climate hazards into city-scale impact assessment (including surface-water flooding and air quality), application to non-EU cities for the first time, and managing the city-level analysis work package.

2012- 2014 Research Associate (Tyndall Centre Research Fellow) university-funded research role advancing development of decision-support tools and spatial models for assessment of climate change impacts. Application of tools to new cities (Paris, Innsbruck). Conversion of analysis tools and models to open-source framework for improved transferability and flexibility.

2010 - 2012 Research Associate (EPSRC) ARCADIA Project (EP/G061254/1): Adaptation and Resilience in Cities: Analysis and Decision making using Integrated Assessment. Research Assistant, Newcastle University. Further development of the models and tools created in previous research in order to improve the spatial modelling capabilities and gain new insights into the impacts of climate change and to test the resilience of cities under differing adaptation scenarios.

2010 Research Assistant (EPSRC) SCORCHIO (EP/E017665/1) Sustainable Cities: Options for Responding to Climate Change Impacts and Outcomes. Development of spatial decision support tool for climate vulnerability assessment. Allowing decision-makers and community leaders to assess their vulnerability to future climate change and understand the factors that contribute to resilience.

2006 -2010 Research Assistant Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, Engineering Cities Programme. Development of GIS-based spatial land-use transport model of London to 2100 for assessment of climate impacts. Collaborating with other leading research groups within the UK, notably CASA at UCL, a model of transport networks for London was developed to allow the examination of accessibility across the city under differing future investment scenarios. Software development, data analysis and algorithm design.

2008-2009 Research Assistant (EPSRC) SWERVE (Severe Weather Events: Risk and Vulnerability Estimator)

2005-2012 GIS CPD course development and delivery. Delivered over 20 week-long CPD courses to academia, industry, government, and charitable organisations.

2005 - 2006 Research Assistant (Environment Agency-funded): Development of EARWIG weather generator user interface to climate change models.

2004 - 2005 Research Assistant (DFID-funded): Co-development of EXCLAIM web tool for catchment modelling.

2004 Internship with ESRI, Redlands, California. Working with 3D team on software development and improving the implementation of 3D data-types within GIS.

2002 Industrial placement with Shell, Netherlands. 3D GIS in the oil and gas exploration and production industry: working with GIS users, including engineers and geologists, to implement GIS in their application areas and develop 3D GIS capabilities in a commercial environment.

Roles and Responsibilities

Water and Geomatics seminar series coordinator



Research

Research Interests

The focus of my research is the provision of tools and models to aid decision-makers. Currently, I am developing spatial analytical tools within GIS for integrated spatial modelling and assessment of climate change impacts and socio-economic/land-use change. This work has involved both the development of spatial interfaces to climate change outputs (e.g., EARWIG) and also spatially-explicit models of city infrastructure for predictive land-use modelling and climate change impact assessment (e.g., Tyndall Cities programme).

Recent work has developed these concepts further to include the direct and indirect impacts of climate events on city systems in the form of heatwaves or flood events. In ARCADIA, I have examined the impact of extreme temperatures on railway networks and the knock-on effects these disruptions can have on the wider urban economy. This work will be further developed in RAMSES, including new climate hazards (e.g. extreme rainfall and air quality) in order to better understand the true costs of future climate change to urban areas.

Another common theme in my research to date has been the integration and linking of data, processes, concepts and typologies from disparate application areas and specialist fields; my PhD research empowering the integration of various oil and gas datasets for decision-support, the EARWIG project linking expert models to provide a single user-oriented tool and the Tyndall Cities work providing a flow of data from land-use transport models to ward-level urban development simulation. This research has examined the interaction of both spatial and non-spatial data, giving me an appreciation of the numerous interactions which occur within the process of integrated assessment.

Working with a range of scientists, engineers and economists has also allowed me to gain an understanding of the role of spatial tools within the decision-support framework and the role of the spatial models within the greater adaptation and mitigation testing process. This has helped me broaden my experience of modelling processes and data fusion, examining the mapping of UK census data to socio-economic and industrial classifications and gaining an appreciation of the holistic and cross-disciplinary nature of the whole system approach to decision-making.

Other Expertise

Development of transport cost models through complex network analysis.

Cellular automata modelling and multi-criteria analysis

Development of decision-support tools within commercial GIS software ensuring availability to a wide audience.


Postgraduate Supervision

Miss Maria Pregnolato - 'Urban infrastructure dynamics'

Mr James Virgo - 'Co-evolution of Cities and Infrastructure'

Mr Craig Robson - 'A spatial database framework for the modelling and analysis of spatially complex interdependent networks'

Esteem Indicators

Invited Speaker - SESSYNC Workshop on Model Integration, Annapolis, USA, January 2015

Invited Session Moderator, ICLEI Open European Day, 2013 and 2014

Invited Speaker - Shell Geomatics Conference, Cairo, 2003

Teaching

Contributor to:

CEG1003 - Human Systems Demands and Impacts. Systems engineering case study.

CEG8514- Climate Change: Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation

Publications