Some notes on AGI GeoCommunity 13

Here’s some longer notes on AGI GeoCommunity 2013, the UK’s premier geospatial event at EMCC in Nottingham. So I arrived in Nottingham on Monday, into Ancaster Hall. I managed to miss the icebreaker (it’s a long story) and after a good sleep, and great breakfast I was ready for the first day of talks. In the key notes Vanessa Lawrence, DG of Ordnance Survey, gave an interesting talk of which I picked up on the G8 open data commitments, the BCS announcing a carto hack camp , and the space catapult along with the national data strategy. Throughout the conference I made sure that the sponsors in the exhibition hall were catered for (here’s a list of the sponsors – a big thank you to all of them for making #GeoCom possible).

Next up I went to watch PBS give a demo on the use of open data in business. Is open data free data? Yes, but not exactly if you factor in the costs of transforming the data and making it fit for purpose. This pre-empted my talk a little where free does not always mean free to all. Next I went to watch my old boss Kendall give an engaging talk on HS2. This gave a good overview of the spatial enterprise set up for HS2. Kendall also mentioned the need for constant communication to management and contractors to make sure that all parties are thinking of the bigger picture. Next up I went to the NoSQL talk from Jack Harrison of Ordnance Survey. This was a great talk. One day I’ll have the guts to do a picture based presentation – you know the ones (no text and lots of lovely pictures). Anyway the talk gave a good overview of reading and visualising twitter feeds using NoSQL, Ruby, JSON, D3.js and Mongo DB. I hope I have time to check these out in a bit more detail! All Jack’s work can be found at After a full day of talks it was time for a quick run and then to the bar where we witnessed some casino games, much beer, and (if you were lucky/unlucky) some karaoke in the other rooms. My MapAction collague (who shall remain nameless!) has suggested that next year the conference should have 1 hour of entirely map-related karaoke. I can think of Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a relevant song for sure!

The next day (Wednesday) saw a plenary from Ian of Sainsbury’s who explained a bit about how they use location intelligence in their site planning and analysis. Then there was a talk on BIM and this gave a good overview of the current state of play. We were urged to read Construction 2025. We also saw an awe-inspiring video of a sky scraper in China being built in 15 days! Then I presented on Building Catastrophe Models using Open Data and Open Source (see my last post for the presentation). Next up Mark Jackson of CERC showed us an open-source web GIS for accessing climate data. The portal is open-source and available from After lunch I saw James Proctor from EA (NaFRA) talk about processing data and speeding up data manipulation. Finally for the day Lynnae Sutton presented on Open Source GIS techniques for web mapping mentioning Kartograph.js, Open Layers, Dojo, D3, I2maps, Leaflet.js, Cartodb, Mapbox and Mapnik amongst others! Then we had the closing session, with Peter Batty talking on Openess in Geospatial which nicely pre-empted FOSS4G (post coming soon).