Conference keynotes


Wednesday 6th Feburary

James Cheshire, University College London

Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See the World

James Cheshire is Professor of Geographic Information and Cartography in the UCL Department of Geography and Director of the UCL Social Data Institute. His research focuses on the use of new forms of data for the study of social science. He is co-author of the critically acclaimed books London: The Information Capital, and Where the Animals Go.

In this talk, James Cheshire will share how he transformed enormous datasets into rich maps and cutting-edge visualisations for his latest co-authored book Atlas of the Invisible. It is a book that reveals happiness levels around the globe, tracks the undersea cables and cell towers that connect us, examines the concealed scars of geopolitics, and illustrates how a warming planet affects everything from hurricanes to the hajj. James will present his collaborative approach to creating visualizations with designer Oliver Uberti and draw examples from his data rich maps to show how information that usually only appears as figures in scientific journals or technical reports can be transformed into compelling full-page graphics for a broad audience.


Thursday 7th February

Chris Gale and Donna Clarke, Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Mapping our future… Geography in the ONS

Chris is currently Acting Head of Geospatial at the Office for National Statistics. His work focuses on the championing of geospatial data, techniques and standards as part of the production of official statistics. Previously he has held research roles at the University of Southampton as part of the Administrative Data Research Centre for England (ADRC-E) and at UCL. He also created the 2011 Output Area Classification as part of PhD.

Donna is an experienced geospatial researcher with 20 years’ experience working in settings across government, academia, teaching, and consultancy in multiple countries. Her work has focused on international development, ecological and population modelling, human geography, biodiversity, climate change and renewable energies, to produce on the ground solutions to real world problems. From 2016- 2020 she focussed on producing high-resolution population estimates and stakeholder engagement in low-to-middle income countries. This work strengthened capacity in Governments mainly in Africa, to create and use spatially enabled data to better inform decisions, especially those surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I currently work at the Office for National Statistics to support the 2021 Census.

In this talk, Chris Gale and Donna Clarke will discuss what role geography has in delivering outputs from the 2021 Census in England and Wales, including what new developments are planned and the challenges faced. They will also discuss what the future of geography in ONS could look like, from the potential to integrate new types of spatial data to produce timely and useful statistics to growing the capability of individuals and teams to better incorporate and utilise spatial methods to help answer key policy drivers in the UK.


Friday 8th February

Ana Basiri, University of Glasgow

Big Data – Good Data: Paradises and Paradoxes in New Forms of Data 

Ana Basiri is a Professor in Geospatial Data Science, a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering’s EngineeringX Champion at the University of Glasgow. Ana works on developing (theoretical and applied) solutions that consider unavailability and biases in data as a useful source of data to make inferences about the underlying reasons that caused missingness or biases. 

In this talk, Ana will discuss how the ubiquity of gadgets and smart things have given us a new magnifier to zoom into individuals but still see the bigger picture. Many use smart cards for their daily commute, express their opinions on social media platforms, and wear smartwatches that can monitor air quality around us almost in real-time. However, “new forms of data” can be sparse, biased, and may lack details. This talk will look at the quality-quantity trade-off of big geospatial data and the challenges, theoretical and applied solutions to effectively combine and make the most of both traditional and new forms of data in research.