Simon Jackson - GIS Analyst/Devloper

This simple website describes some of the projects that I have undertaken.  A brief summary of the project is given, a simplified background to the methodology and some screenshots of the results.  

Feel free to contact me for any further information.  

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Please click thumbnails for full size images.

Streamlining the Abstraction Process - ArcObjects Development

The supply of water is limited.  The Environment Agency manages England & Wales water resources.  They manage the balance between effectively meeting society's needs and those of the environment.  The issuing of abstraction licenses involves careful considerations into possible consequences if an abstraction were to be granted.   At present this process can take 4 months to make a decision.  

I have been developing a desktop based tool in ArcGIS to speed up the technical assessment of the possible impacts of an abstraction.

First off applicants submit a spreadsheet outlining the abstraction location, source of the abstraction, purpose, amount being abstracted, rate of abstraction and further details.  This is plotted onto a map, the information recorded into a personal geodatabase and then it performs a number of tests on the data.

A catchment layer which has an TO and FROM ID that link catchments from upstream to downstream, and a series of stand-alone tables that link to this layer are looked at by the code.  Nationally agreed criteria will determine if the application will pose a risk in different categories.  For instance if the application amount would cause a catchment downstream to change to over-abstracted, a high risk score will be recorded.

The tool also looks at other layers such as environmentally sensitive zones and determines if the abstraction will have an unacceptable impact on them. 

These risk scores are recorded to a results table in the geodatabase and once the tests are finished, the results are pasted out to a template spreadsheet which informs the end-user of the overall risk.  A low risk result means a licence can be granted quickly without further assessment.  Moderate or high risk results means further review required by the applicant and the Environment Agency.

It has been discussed with the client to advance this project from a desktop based tool to a more central location.  It is hoped to develop an ArcGIS Server solution so that the tool can be run within a browser.    

Other ideas involve getting the code to work within ArcEngine and thus lower license costs for individuals who will need to use the tool.

Watch this space...


Making Information Available - ArcObjects Development

The Environment Agency has catchment officers across the country who know a lot of local knowledge about their areas - however this knowledge is often not recorded digitally and is often lost when staff leave or retire.  The first meeting we had with the client, they expressed that they wanted to "download the brains of their catchment officers".

Using VB6 & ArcObjects, ArcGIS Desktop was customised to provide an easy to use interface, allowing catchment officers to record details about sites within their areas.
Aimed at staff who may not be that familiar with GIS, a complete set of tools has been created within a separate toolbar.  Sites can be added either via typing in exact coordinates or by clicking within the map window.

They can add data about the site via tick-boxes, dropdowns, free text along with uploading photos of the site.  This is all recorded in a personal geodatabase and is also exported to a MS Word template report.  If they visit the site again, additional details can be recorded and the geodatabase and Word document will also be updated.

 Urban Capacity Studies - Spatial Analysis

"To enable the Government to meet its 60% target for accommodating new dwellings on previously developed land we must make best use of derelict, vacant and under-used land and buildings before we develop on greenfield sites." 
All local planning authorities undertake housing land availability assessments to evaluate the suitable areas for future development.
Having worked on several of these studies, the method behind the analysis is usually very similar. 
All housing related data/datasets are collated from the authority (e.g. existing planning, permissions, housing allocations) and usually a survey is carried out to establish additional sites with development potential.  
With the data in GIS, overlaps between these datasets are ironed out through simple intersects and clips.  Then the layers can be combined to form one overall "capacity layer".  
Usually a density zones layer is provided by the authority - This is a series of zones indicating dwellings per hectare.  Using this layer, sites that fell within separate zones could then be assigned capacity values, based upon the area of each site.  

Constraints categories are also agreed with the authority - These are different levels of restrictions on development, such as significant environmental designations, flood zones, heritage sites etc.  
Simple overlay analysis between the capacity layer and these constraints categories allows us to determine which sites are heavily restrained and are therefore less likely to be developed upon.

There is usually further manipulation of the data, depending on the authority - For example different post codes may be more suitable for development - this can be reflected via a spatial query.
Delivering the results again depends on the authority - what GIS systems they have, how many people need to view the data, does it need to be read-only or can further edits be made.
The planners within the authorities usually do not have direct access to GIS software so the results are exported to a format that can be viewed with Google Earth (see screenshot).

 Water Framework Directive - ArcObjects Development

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most substantial piece of EC water legislation to date. It requires all inland and coastal waters to reach "good status" by 2015. It will do this by establishing a river basin district structure within which demanding environmental objectives will be set, including ecological targets for surface waters.
We calculated a number of factors for each Integrated Water Body (drainage basins) across England & Wales.  These were needed to be reviewed by the Environment Agency - my job was to produce a reporting/comments tool within ArcGIS that would make this process as efficient as possible.  The tool allowed the end-user to select a polygon on the screen - This would then report back scores which were contained within several stand-alone tables in a geodatabase.   The user could then make changes to this data, make comments and this would get written to a separate database table, along with a time-stamp and user name.  It would also change the colour of the polygon selected to signify it had been reported on.







Lower Lea Valley GeoPortal - more info - ArcIMS/Database mgmt.

Capita Symonds acted as coordinators for the distribution of key documents and spatial datasets for the site investigation and remediation for the Olympic site in theLower Lee Valley.

A geoportal website was created to provide a secure, online data warehouse to identify, visualize, interrogate and disseminate multidisciplinary information gathered during the project.

My role was acting as an in-house document controller and database administrator.  All new/revised documents & datasets had detailed metadata recorded in a MS Access database.

Weekly this database would be uploaded to the geoportal, along with any revised datasets and documents.    With some javascript and pHp end-users could search for documents/datasets either by keyword searches, by discipline, reference number or by using the map-servers.

Eight map-servers were created for various disciplines (Ecology, Services, etc.) using ArcIMS.  This allowed end-users to search and download documents/datasets depending on which zone they fell in.  The map-servers could also be used to query the information in the GIS layers - e.g. Using the info tool, boreholes could be queried to see what levels of contaminant were recorded at their location.

Access to the geoportal was also restricted, so there was a login table, with all of the users, their user-names, passwords and level of clearance to the geoportal.

Recreation Sensitivity Mapping - Thames Estuary - more info

The aims of this project were to identify when, where and what recreational activities are taking place within the Thames Estuary, and to understand better why activities are sited at particular locations.

Recreation was split into Land and Water based activities, such as wild fowling, archery, horse riding, canoeing, etc. After much data collection, certain trends could be seen and applied to gaps in the data. Information such as type of activity, numbers involved, facilities present, proximity to other activities was collated into a central database. Multi-criteria analysis was then carried out - Scoring the data was done by simple queries in the database to extract the relevant data required for the specific factor, then linking that data to the GIS layers and then calculating scores based on a scoring matrix. The weighted scores can be summarised with these two maps which show (at a strategic level) the levels of sensitivity within the Thames Estuary, for land and water based recreational activities.

Flood Risk Assessments

A typical job is to aid the hydraulic modellers in pre-processing data to go into models and then visualise the output data. Many of the projects can be large scale, involving many scenarios and several return periods. This in turn lead me to make the workflow more efficient by developing batch scripts and utilising open source GIS software to churn out results quicker.

12D is normally used to prepare DTM's; Tuflow or ISIS are used for the hydraulic modelling; GRASS (Linux) is used to batch process the output data to flood depth grids; and these grids are then fed into MDSF which allows for damage assessments to be calculated.


Google Maps

Google Maps mania has lead to a vast number of Google Map mashups being published to the web. These come in a variety of forms, both fun and serious - running routes, air turbulence, ski resort runs, traffic news, weather forecasts, etc.

Google Maps can be used as an interface to deliver data to clients.  The interface is familiar and easy to use and the real benefit is that the basemapping and aerial imagery can also be used without additional license costs.

In conjunction with a MySQL database and with some help from PHP, Google maps can also be used more dynamically to allow end-users to record data via the map and store the results in the database. 

As a side-project I have been trying to migrate the Making Information Available project (see earlier) from ArcMap to Google Maps.  Users can create new sites (points) by double clicking on the map window.  This brings up an info window which allows the user to record data about the site (again with tick-boxes, drop-downs and upload photos).  The type of site can be chosen which will be symbolised by different coloured markers.  These markers can be dragged to new locations or deleted once created if need be.


 Heuristic Mapping Analysis - Countryside Council for Wales

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) commissioned Capita Symonds to carry out a heuristic mapping analysis study as part of a wider project to understand people’s perception of landscapes in Wales.

The project involved comparing perception or heuristic maps of landscape areas in Wales, such as Snowdonia or the Gower Peninsula. A range of innovative geographic and statistical analysis techniques were developed to assess the degree of consensus between more than 30 people’s heuristic maps.

The study has revealed people recognise 117 landscape areas in Wales. The degree of consensus between these areas can be shown in thematic maps. This study represents the first stage in an ongoing process to identify landscape character areas in Wales.

Groundwater Surface Water Analysis

For strategic level projects, GIS can be used over modelling to map out susceptible areas of groundwater/surface water flooding. GIS layers of soil, geology, slope, land-use, hydrology can be spatially joined to a grid (e.g. average slope for a grid cell). These cells can then be reclassified into risk classes for surface water/groundwater flooding based on the value for each criteria. Using different weightings, these can then be totalled up to give a traffic light map defining risk. The results correlate up to actual flood incidents, proving that this simplistic methodology gives a good indication on a catchment scale.

Using Remote Sensing to Identify areas Lowland Raised Bog - English Nature

Capita Symonds in collaboration with Bath Spa University has been commissioned by English Nature to carry out a project entitled “Scaling up the Categorisation of Bog Surface Condition using Field and Remote Sensing Techniques”

Ikonos imagery was geo-referenced and atmospherically corrected using the ‘Image Balancing Wizard for Air Photos’ within ER Mapper. The files were then mosaiced together. An unsupervised classification was undertaken using the ISOCLASS algorithm in ER Mapper. A supervised classification was also carried out in union with training areas surveyed from a ground team. The supervised classification results have been used to quantify distinctive surface conditions on each peat bog, including active raised, degraded raised bogs and lagg conditions.

It should be noted, that I only helped in the preprocessing and some of the initial classifications in this project, and was not involved in the spectral analysis and interpretation part of the project, due to other resource issues.

Noise Mapping

Capita Symonds won the bid to produce noise maps for the entire north of England. I was responsible for the pre-processing and map delivery aspects of the project. The vast amounts of data meant new servers and I was also in command of 22 computers (via remote link) - organisation and competency were key skills required.

Due to the nature of the noise modelling software (IMMI) that the data needed to go into, the major limitation was that it could not handle shapefiles that had objects within them that contained more than 500 nodes. This was particularly problematic with the roads, which (with the help of an arc-script) a node count and then splitting the objects down, solved the problem. The buildings layers (OS MM) were dissolved on building height, holes removed (removes courtyards) and then generalised - This reduced processing time for the noise modellers. Ground cover again needed to be re-classified and dissolved. Noise barriers were surveyed using video footage from in-car cameras. This, combined with aerial imagery, allowd for a flyover and noise barrier layers to be created. Topological checks were carried out on all layers to check for for overlaps, duplicate objects and gaps - the data was then ready for the noise modelling.

The output then had to be converted into ascii files, ArcGrids, and region contours (as stated in the clients deliverables). The latter were then displayed on a simple layout, with the roads and buildings layer overlaid.




Please note, that although I am the document creator, these drawings still remain the property of whichever company I was working for at the time. The data within the layouts is mock data and shoul only be used as a reference to my GIS abilities. They still fall under copyright laws and license agreements.