A refreshing change

2010. For the internet, that’s a long way back in time. Not quite an ice age ago, but pretty far back. Just to get things in perspective, the iPad had only just been invented.

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On Aldeburgh Beach

I went down to the beach one morning to watch the sunrise and found the fishermen landing their catch, so stopped to watch and then bought some fish for dinner. Delicious!

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UK Data Service: Solving business problems with environmental data

A short film highlighting data sets available from the UK Data Service that could be used to develop new solutions to environmental business problems.

“We’ve understood that it’s really important that social and economic data is used in order to enhance environmental research.” – Matthew Woollard, Director, UK Data Service

The Technology Strategy Board and NERC have invested £4m during 2014 to run feasibility studies which use environmental data to address a specific business issue in transport, food, agriculture, energy generation and supply, built environment and future cities or financial services.

The UK Data Service is mandated to collect the highest quality data for economic and social research and make these available for re-use.

The UK Data Service is mandated to collect the highest quality data for economic and social research and make these available for re-use.

Transcript

Matthew Woollard, Director, UK Data Service

The UK Data Service is the repository for UK social and economic data. It’s a collaboration between the universities of Essex, Manchester and Southampton, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The UK Data Service holds over 6000 data collections. What we’re mandated to do by the ESRC is to go to government departments and collect the best, the richest, the highest quality data for research and make these available for re-use.

We’ve been working with the UK environmental observation framework which has understood that it’s really important that social and economic data is used in order to enhance environmental research.

University of Essex, home of the UK Data Service for economic and social data.

University of Essex, home of the UK Data Service for economic and social data.

Three key examples of microdata that we hold that are going to be of value to environmental research are the census which is conducted by the Office for National Statistics, the National Travel Survey, and the Labour Force Survey which is conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions.

We also provide access to the International Energy Authority statistics which give key environmental indicators across the world.

Understanding Society is the largest survey funded by the ESRC. It asks questions of 40,000 householders and its a longitudinal survey which means the same individuals are returned to year on year.

Data about social and economic inequalities highlights access to public transport, to green space, to shops and to other services.

Data about social and economic inequalities highlights access to public transport, to green space, to shops and to other services.

Recent research carried out has helped government, that’s national and local government, plan their transport facilities.

The UK Data Service also holds a large collection of data from the Rural Economy and Land Use programme. These data are very good examples of showing the linkage of data from different sources, and they show the relationship between people and the environment.

One of the more widely used studies in this collection is on social and economic inequalities in England. The inequalities highlighted included access to public transport, to green space, to shops and to other services.

Data about social and economic inequalities highlights access to public transport, to green space, to shops and to other services.

Data about social and economic inequalities highlights access to public transport, to green space, to shops and to other services.

Many of the data we collect have restricted geographical information. Geography has sometimes been removed to protect the confidentiality of the individuals who have been surveyed.

The UK Data Service is very keen to work with data owners to open up data to users who haven’t traditionally been allowed access to these data and that includes business.

The portal to all of our services is our website. You can find it at http://ukdataservice.ac.uk.

Social and economic data is online permanently to use in environmental applications.

Social and economic data is online permanently to use in environmental applications.

About the film

Filmed on location at University of Essex, Colchester.

Director: Martyn Bull
Producer: Thomas Delfs
Camera: Mark Whatmore
Editor: Liam Angell
Cast: Matthew Woollard

Client: ESKTN
Production company: insitu

Further reading

Social and environmental data from the UK Data Service can be used by business.

Social and environmental data from the UK Data Service can be used by business.

 

Ordnance Survey: Solving business problems with environmental data

A short film highlighting environmental data sets available from Ordnance Survey that could be used to develop new solutions to business problems.

“Ordnance Survey is incredibly excited about further uses of our data, how it’s mashed up with other data and what that may lead to.” – Chris Parker

The Technology Strategy Board and NERC have invested £4m during 2014 to run feasibility studies which use environmental data to address a specific business issue in transport, food, agriculture, energy generation and supply, built environment and future cities or financial services.

OS OpenSpace is a platform which allows developers to put Ordnance Survey data onto websites and to develop applications.

OS OpenSpace is a platform which allows developers to put Ordnance Survey data onto websites and to develop applications.

Transcript

Chris Parker, Head, GeoVation Programme, Products and Innovation, Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey is Great Britain’s national mapping authority providing the most accurate up-to-date geographic data which is relied upon by business, government and individuals.

You may recognise us from our pink and orange paper walking maps, but most of our data is digital.

Ordnance Survey data is used throughout government and business, in banking finance and insurance in land and property, by utilities, by transport companies, by telecoms companies. It’s very widely used across the country.

We have Ordnance Survey’s Open Data, a portfolio of about 11 data sets which includes height data, addressing data, gazetteer data – data about places – road and rail networks, at various scales.

Pink and orange walking maps are a familiar use of Ordnance Survey data.

Pink and orange walking maps are a familiar use of Ordnance Survey data.

And then we have our more detailed data, our Ordnance Survey MasterMap database, which consists of a number of layers including integrated transport layers, a water network layer, site specific information, buildings, houses, a topography layer, and a digital aerial photography layer as well.

With both our open data sets and our more detailed data sets, we cover the whole of Great Britain.

We provide a platform which allows developers to put our data onto websites and to develop applications. Its called OS OpenSpace. You can also access our data through downloads and DVDs as well.

For our more detailed data, we have three innovation licences. If you want to sample the data, then sign up for our free-to-use Discover licence. If you want to evaluate it and play with it and get more familiar with it, then sign up to our Evaluation licence. If you’re a developer and you want to build applications and test those on your customers, then sign up to our Developer licences. All these are free licences. The Developer licence will allow you to have access for 3-12 months.

Ordnance Survey is incredibly excited about potential further uses of our data, how it’s used with others, how it’s mashed up with other data and what that may lead to.

The Ordnance Survey MasterMap database  contains many layers of data: integrated transport, water networks, site specific information, buildings, houses, topography and digital aerial photography.

The Ordnance Survey MasterMap database contains many layers of data: integrated transport, water networks, site specific information, buildings, houses, topography and digital aerial photography.

About the film

Filmed on location at Ordnance Survey, Southampton.

Director: Martyn Bull
Producer: Thomas Delfs
Camera: Mark Whatmore
Editor: Liam Angell
Cast: Chris Parker

Client: ESKTN
Production company: insitu

Further reading

Ordnance Survey is Great Britain’s national mapping authority.

Ordnance Survey is Great Britain’s national mapping authority.

Natural Environment Research Council: Solving business problems with environmental data

A short film highlighting environmental data sets available from the UK Natural Environment Research Council that could be used to develop new solutions to business problems.

“The power of bringing all the big data sets together is that we get a holistic view of the environment” – Professor Robert Gurney, NERC Environmental Information Coordinator

The Technology Strategy Board and NERC have invested £4m during 2014 to run feasibility studies which use environmental data to address a specific business issue in transport, food, agriculture, energy generation and supply, built environment and future cities or financial services.

Environmental data can be used to forecast changes in local climate.

Environmental data can be used to forecast changes in local climate.

Transcript

Professor Robert Gurney, NERC Environmental Information Coordinator

The Natural Environment Research Council is the main funder of environmental research in the UK. It funds work in universities and all the data are put in a set of data centres.

NERC has a set of centres: the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Antarctic Survey, the National Oceanographic Centre, the British Geological Survey, the National Centre for Earth Observation and the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences. It also works very closely with allied bodies like the Met Office and increasingly with the range of catapult activities from the Technology Strategy Board including the Space Applications Catapult.

Wind speed data from anemometers help with environmental monitoring.

Wind speed data from anemometers help with environmental monitoring.

Earth observation data is inherently global measuring the earth from satellites. It includes information on sea surface temperature, land surface temperature, land cover globally and of the UK.

The geophysical data that are available, many different sorts, including physical samples as well as digital data, mainly for the UK for use for building, quarrying and the oil industry, and similar civil engineering activities.

The ecological and hydrological data include information about flooding and about land cover change, the biodiversity of the UK and is used mainly for flood mapping and monitoring, and also for making sure that we preserve the biodiversity of the UK.

Mashing up environmental data sets with geophysical data can help with flood prevention.

Mashing up environmental data sets with geophysical data can help with flood prevention.

Polar data mainly about the Antarctic is information about the atmosphere, ocean (including the life in the ocean), the geology, soils and the ice sheet and how they’ve changed in time.

A nice example is where the British Antarctic Survey discovered the ozone hole from looking at long-time series of atmospheric data.

The power of bringing all the big data sets together, is that we get a holistic view of the environment, not just a view from the geologists, or the view from atmospheric sciences.

We can really understand how the planet is changing, how the UK is changing, why it’s changing, and then use those predictions to know where to invest.

Combining environmental data with terrain mapping can aid climate forecasting for the UK.

Combining environmental data with terrain mapping can aid climate forecasting for the UK.

About the film

Filmed on location at University of Reading, Reading.

Director: Martyn Bull
Producer: Thomas Delfs
Camera: Paul Rudge
Editor: Liam Angell
Cast: Robert Gurney

Client: ESKTN 

Production company: insitu

Further reading

Professor Robert Gurney, NERC Environmental Information Coordinator

Professor Robert Gurney, NERC Environmental Information Coordinator

 

National Oceanography Centre: Solving business problems with environmental data

A short film highlighting environmental data sets available from the National Oceanography Service that could be used to develop new solutions to business problems.

“We’re using ocean models to couple to atmospheric models of the climate system to investigate how the North Atlantic might change in the future and how this will influence European climate.” – Professor Adrian New, National Oceanography Service

The Technology Strategy Board and NERC have invested £4m during 2014 to run feasibility studies which use environmental data to address a specific business issue in transport, food, agriculture, energy generation and supply, built environment and future cities or financial services.

Environmental data can be used to monitor ocean life.

Environmental data can be used to monitor ocean life.

Transcript

Professor Adrian New, Head, Marine Systems Modelling Group, National Oceanography Centre

The National Oceanography Centre is one of the world’s leading oceanography research centres and comprises two sites at Southampton and Liverpool.

At the National Oceanography Centre there are three primary sources of data. There’s observational data that’s collected when we go to sea or by remote autonomous vehicles. The second is computer generated simulations, and the third are satellite data sets that come from a range of satellites and space agencies.

We need to collect observational data sets over periods of decades to form reliable estimates of how the ocean is changing on the climate time scales.

Professor Adrian New, Head of Marine Systems Modelling Group, National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton.

Professor Adrian New, Head of Marine Systems Modelling Group, National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton.

Two good examples are, firstly, the Rapid Array. It’s a monitoring array at 26 degrees north right across the Atlantic and this is monitoring the strength of the circulation in the Atlantic. The rapid array has been collecting data since 2002 and it’s just been extended. That will give a 15-20 year coverage which is what you need to be able to have a good statistical estimate of whether the Atlantic circulation is really changing or not. This is a completely unique data set in the world.

The second example is the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level. The Permananent Service for Mean Sea Level has been collecting data from a network of tide gauges for several decades.

Autosub remote autonomous vehicle used to collect ocean environmental data for the National Oceanography Centre.

Autosub remote autonomous vehicle used to collect ocean environmental data for the National Oceanography Centre.

The observational data is collected on various research cruises that tend to be along section across a basin, from say Europe to North America, but just a single section. Or they are at particular locations where moorings might be for several years or decades so they are very sparse or scattered in their coverage.

Moored buoys monitor conditions at fixed locations supplying data to create models of ocean conditions.

Moored buoys monitor conditions at fixed locations supplying data to create models of ocean conditions.

The model data sets give complete global coverage down to 10 kilometre resolution. Jointly with the Met Office we’re using the ocean models to couple to atmospheric models of the climate system and we have a joint programme of research to investigate, for instance, how the North Atlantic might change in the future and how this will influence European climate.

Environmental data is combined to produce a global model of the ocean.

Environmental data is combined to produce a global model of the ocean.

In the future there are other potential applications of the model output.  For instance, to look at oil spills: if there is an oil spill somewhere, where is the oil going to go? You could also use it to see where albatrosses in the South Atlantic tend to gather, where the currents are strongest and where the food sources might be most prevalent.

NERC owns the British Atmospheric Data Centre, British Oceanography Data Centre, and the Earth Observation Data Centre. All data is freely available from the NERC data centres.

Marine life is very sensitive to changes in the environment.

Marine life is very sensitive to changes in the environment.

About the film

Filmed on location at National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

Director: Martyn Bull
Producer: Thomas Delfs
Camera: Mark Whatmore
Editor: Liam Angell
Cast: Adrian New

Client: ESKTN
Production company: insitu

Further reading

Shipping and other sea users rely on accurate environmental data to plan future activity.

Shipping and other sea users rely on accurate environmental data to plan future activity.

‘Pans on scenery are bunk’: John Grierson’s notes on shooting documentary from 1932

On the website of The Grierson Trust, there is a great section about John Grierson, the “father of documentary.”

In one of the articles you can see Grierson’s notes on using a camera. He gave these to Edgar Ansty in 1932, just before he set off for a year shooting aboard HMS Challenger, a Royal Navy survey ship charting the Labrador Coast in north-east Canada.

Even after 80 or so years, the basic points Grierson makes still apply to shooting documentaries today.

A scene from Drifters (1929) directed by John Grierson. (Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive, New York)

A scene from Drifters (1929) directed by John Grierson. (MoMA Film Stills Archive, New York)

Anstey had been given less than 24 hours training behind a movie camera. Grierson drove to Portsmouth by car to see Anstey off. Anstey recalls him manhandling two crates of film stock on board the Challenger, and then handing him a hastily written set of instructions on how to use the camera: “Take this with you,” he said, “this is how we shot Drifters.”

My favourite of the list: “Pans on scenery are bunk”. Still very true.

A close second is: “It has to be a damned important moving object to be worth a pan.”

With digital cameras, it’s easy to shoot in a very unplanned way, but you really shouldn’t. The costs in time and money will rapidly stack up in the edit. Much better to plan out what you will film way before pressing the red button. “Get people accustomed to the notion that you have to get everything as you want it before you can shoot film,” notes Grierson.

Other timeless advice is to shoot with the sun over your shoulder so it can give good exposure on your subject’s face, and remembering to focus.

Unfortunately, the film from Edgar Anstey’s voyage to Labrador, Uncharted Waters (1933) for the Empire Marketing Board, is currently ‘missing believed lost’.

CAMERA POINTS AT RANDOM
John Grierson

  1. Keep steady. Never from hand or hip.
  2. To get true movement of a ship you have to keep the horizon horizontal, therefore lashing to the ship will not get the effect (where horizon is dominant). My own method is to lash to the ship and miss the horizon by shooting down or shoot low and get the sky background. i.e., miss the swinging horizon. Alternatively, and if important enough, say in a big gale, you must practice getting the camera related to the horizon. Screw the camera on a stick and be your own compensating balance. The spirit level should help you. Naturally not too much of this, steadiness takes priority.
  3. Do not do any panning at all except on a moving object. It has to be a damned important moving object to be worth a pan. i.e. one the audience are really interested to follow. Then keep the pan as steady as possible even if it means letting the object beat the pan.
  4. Pans on scenery are bunk.
  5. Get into the habit of remembering to focus. It is not so easy to remember in the urgency of action.
  6. The gate should be frequently cleaned. I shot a whole day once with a hair waggling half across the frame.
  7. Do not be afraid to ask people to do things again rather than go on shooting raggedly on something that has flopped. This nerve will bore people but is half the job.
  8. ‘By guess and by God’ is the dirtiest thing you can say about a producer.
  9. Do not be afraid of setting up effects where it is difficult to get them on the run.
  10. Get people accustomed to the notion that you have to get everything as you want it before you can shoot film at 41/2d. a foot.
  11. Shoot with the light behind you, over your right or left shoulder preferably, according to the better illumination on faces. Flaherty shoots with a late afternoon light (he calls it ‘down the sink’) so long as it is strong for exposure, its lowness on the horizon allows a better light on faces. It is also more pleasantly soft on faces.
  12. Do not shoot without direct sunlight unless the skies are falling. If you must, remember the Black Country* principles of getting your greys to keyed to extremes of black and white. Snow is white – a solid silhouette in the foreground is black.
  13. Exposure at sea is greater than on land because the sea catches and throws up a vast amount of light. Remember this and make your exposure tests accordingly.
Image

John Grierson’s notes to Edgar Ansty (1932)

*The reference to ‘the Black Country’ is most likely connected with the filming for Industrial Britain by Robert Flaherty in the regions around Birmingham.