Geocomputation and Analysis at the Essex Summer School

I’ve recently come back from the Essex Summer School, where I ran a two week course on Geocomputation and Analysis. I was really pleased with how the course ran, particularly as this was the first time I had run a course for this summer school. The summer school primarily is for social scientists (with its full title being Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis) and my material had a range of social science examples in it. (You could argue that all GIS use is social science, because ultimately the questions we use GIS to answer have an impact on people, but that is probably a discussion for another time!)

I had a small group at the summer school, and this meant I could adapt the material to suit them. Many of them had political science backgrounds, so we spent some time creating cartograms of election results, similar to those produced by Benjamin Hennig and others, and summarised by Ken Field (aka Cartonerd). The standard cartograms proved relatively easy to create using ScrapeToad (which I have blogged on before, and will create a cartogram out of any shape file) but the hexagon cartograms proved more complex. I found a number of semi-useful webpages, but we struggled to produce anything sensible in the time available. We did also discover than Benjamin had released a KMZ version of the hexagons for his 2010 election map, which was a really useful starting point!

The brief course outline is on the Essex Summer School website, and a revised version of what I actually taught is also available (Word, .docx, 53KB). This is the first time the course was run, so I don’t yet know if it will run next year, but if you are interested, email me to join the mailing list!

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