Spatial Analytics and Modelling

Global Context

Global Context

Developing more holistic and integrated understandings of spatial science is one of the great societal and intellectual challenges of the 21st century.

How we map, explain and attempt to shape relations and interactions between flows of people, their activities, their ecological footprints and infrastructural service demands will have a fundamental bearing on the prosperity, quality of life and wellbeing of people and places across the world. 

The conceptual, theoretical and analytical challenges of developing a more integrated and trans-disciplinary spatial science are substantive.

New sources of data

Global trends towards 'big data' and 'open data' are generating a torrent of data from multiple and increasingly interconnected sources:

  • the internet
  • mobile phones
  • social media
  • observation stations
  • GPS devices
  • crowd-sourced data
  • remote sensing, for example satellites and seismic monitoring

The volume, velocity, variety and value of such data are unprecedented.

Many of these new sources of data open up the vast potential of analysing, modelling and visualising the spatial and temporal dimensions of complex issues. We can now do this with unprecedented accuracy and precision at a range of geographical scales, including the:

  • micro/individual
  • household
  • neighbourhood
  • regional
  • national
  • global

What have been passive and previously under-utilised data sets collected by new 'smart' technologies raise extensive and exciting possibilities for their exploration, integration and activation:

  • underpinning the search for more holistic understandings
  • identifying new research issues and problems
  • developing new analytical, modelling and visualisation tools and applications
  • enabling the formulation and confrontation of novel and formerly unreachable research questions

This cross-fertilisation is opening up exciting opportunities for trans-disciplinary research. Knowledge exchange, collaboration and policy applications are also opening up on a local and global scale.

High profile research

The field is fast expanding and globally high profile. This is a result of the growing role and convergence of the social sciences and geosciences in providing analysis and evidence relevant for policy and wider society.

Urgent interest is manifest in large research funding initiatives from blue chip sources such as the EU and Research Councils UK. There are also policy concerns, with big data identified as one of the UK government's eight great technologies.