Posts Tagged "UK"

Visualisation idea: Animated population movements

Posted by on 6 Jan, 2016 in Data & Visualisations, Ideas & Innovation | 0 comments

[This is “Idea dump” post #1]

One area where I’ve had a few ideas, is thinking about how useful animated maps can be for understanding change of populations, empires or societies over a period of time. Here is just one of the many examples of YouTube videos and interactive visualisations online that do this:

The specific idea that occurred to me today, was that this technique could be applied to visualise the movement of people between towns and cities within a country, for example within the UK.

One way I could see this working would be that, based on compiling per-town annual population statistics into a large database, you could then render a dot or circle for each town with a size proportional to its population, forming a single map for each year (which would stay on screen for a few seconds). You would then compare each town’s population to the stat for that town in the previous year and identify whether it was a gain or a loss. Of course, you would need a geolocated lat/long coordinate for each town to serve as the centre of the dot.

I think a colour scale for each town’s dot something like this would be useful: dark red -> red -> grey -> green -> bright green. Grey would indicate “no change”, dark red would be “major loss of population since last year” and bright green would be “major gain of population since last year”.

You could then stitch these frames together into an animation to give a really clear visualisation as to how a country’s population is moving. Is there predominantly a move into cities, or to the country? Are influxes of population matched by losses elsewhere? (A more advanced version of this visualisation would distinguish between population growth due to immigration and internal population movements).

In terms of how it would look, I imagine a single frame might look a little like the header image of this post, which is featured in a different visualisation here (though in my visualisation there would be more green and less red).

Google Earth does allow timeline-based maps which change over time – perhaps the result could be created as a layer for Google Earth. Tools like this may help. Some related data for the UK can be found here. A similar project was carried out for US cities, though this focusses more on the geographic spread of the cities, whereas the idea I present is about population.

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Scotland, you were right, the UK is broken…

Posted by on 16 Sep, 2014 in Articles | 0 comments

…We’re sorry we didn’t notice. But please, let’s fix it together.



I can understand why a lot of you who live in Scotland are cynical. You’ve been talking about independence since the ’70s, and about the referendum for more than 2 years. And suddenly, a couple of weeks before the referendum, in an apparent panic, people all over England start pleading you not to leave, sending politicians from Westminster on desperate missions of persuasion offering all kinds of promises. Where were they, you wonder?

The truth is, we’ve been blind to something you realized a long time ago – that the “country of countries” model [excellent primer for international readers here] that the United Kingdom operates on, no longer works. That it is impossible to simultaneously live within a country called Scotland and a country called the UK without having democratic imbalance and conflict between the two. And that for a quite a few years now, the balance has been very off, with Scotland having little say in which government rules the land or what policies affect your daily lives.

I hope in this post to help explain why we English have reacted the way we have, and I hope to convince you that now that we have entered into this public debate, and Westminster are finally listening, that you do not need to leave the UK to get the democratic representation you desperately need and deserve. I hope to convince you that it is the current structure and distribution of power within the UK that needs to change – not the make-up of the UK itself. I hope also to persuade other English readers why we should not resent Yes-inclined Scots for feeling the way they do, and that they are not against us, they just see a Yes as the only way to achieve democratic change.

I know I only realized just how broken the UK is,

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Is home where the heart is?

Posted by on 11 Jan, 2012 in Lifenotes, Relationships | 3 comments

Well, here we are two weeks into 2012. 2012! A date that sounds so incredibly futuristic I am surprised I am not writing this by talking to my computer or travelling to work in an electric self-driving car. Although of course these things are almost possible now.

Anyway, as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I am going to try once again to do a series of regular informal journal-type posts every couple of weeks. This time, not so much about relationships, more just about my life as I try and figure out a new direction. 2012 will be a year of triangulation I think, as I adjust my heading and set course towards a new future, whatever that might be.

It’s been an odd start to the year. My 2012 Canadian work visa, applied for in early November, has not yet been issued by Quebec, and so having returned to the UK for Christmas, I am now unable to return to Canada. I expect it to be processed and to get back to Montreal some time before the end of January, but in the meantime, I have had to build myself a sort of temporary life here in the UK for a few (who knows how many) weeks.

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Reverse culture shock – Ten observations of a Canadian Brit visiting the UK

Posted by on 13 Sep, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments


I spent last week in the UK (for the HCI 2010 conference) and having spent a year and a half in Canada, for the first time I felt something of a stranger in my own homeland. Here are my top ten observations from the week of the cultural differences I observed:


1. When in a car driving on the left, it felt really wrong – like we should be on the other side of the road – especially when turning!


2. I found myself asking the driver to open the boot (trunk) – because in Canada you can’t open the boot from outside, you need to pull the lever down by the driver’s seat.


3. When buying products, I expected things to cost more than their displayed prices when I got to the till – because I’ve got used to tax not being included.


4. The prices seemed really small due to them being in pounds not dollars. What was really weird was I found myself converting pounds to dollars to understand how much they cost – but yet I still convert dollar prices to pounds in Canada to understand them!


5. I felt guilty when leaving no tip at a bar or when paying for a meal – I’ve obviously got used to Canadian compulsory tipping. Found it even stranger there’s not even a line to add a gratuity on the receipt when paying by Mastercard.


6. I felt like a second-class citizen when trying to pay with my Canadian Mastercard. It has no Chip & PIN, and the idea of a credit card without Chip & PIN is pretty unheard of in UK.. Most places won’t accept it, and I actually was told to use an alternative means some times! Funnily enough they are just rolling out Chip & PIN in Canada, so things should improve soon. I wondered if I would have got more acceptance of my foreign card if I had put on a non-British accent!


7. I was able to hear the British accent as a distinct accent, my ears have obviously tuned in to Canadian as a baseline.


8. It seemed really strange to be wandering around town after work, 5.15pm – and all the shops were shut. I’ve got used to late night shopping being an option most nights.


9. Answering the question “Where are you from?” proved most confusing. Well I’m from the UK, but I’m also from Canada. Depends on the timeframe for the question!


10. I suddenly found myself using SMS again. Hadn’t realised how little it is used in Canada vs the UK (email being the preferred instant contact in the US & Canada, given the Blackberry revolution)
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The Daily Mail Song

Posted by on 29 Jun, 2010 in My Stream | 0 comments

Well this sums up my feelings about the Daily Mail perfectly. Inflammatory, sensationalist drivel that does a lot of damage to society. Great song by Dan & Dan. Check out the other Dan & Dan videos too.

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