Category Archives: Conferences and Exhibitions

Which is Better for a Public Meeting?

In the last few weeks, as part of our BIM stakeholder engagement for the Innovate UK funded UrbanPlanAR.com project, I have visited the UK Ordnance Survey (OS) and seen their presentations at Geo Business.

Whilst traditionally (for about the past 225 years) the OS has been involved in data capture and presentation, increasingly the business is understanding the value in the use of information.  Moving spatial data from geometry to intelligence and backdrop to analytical services.

In relation to Linknode’s geospatial visualisation, one slide from Gary McDonald resonates with our use of technology.  The opportunity to make change more accessible and understandable – and to deliver it on-site where context counts will lead to greater engagement and a more democratic and better decision making.  Which do you think is better?…

Which is better...

For more information on Linknode’s visualisation products and services visit VentusAR.com or follow the contact us links.

Staff Spotlight – Rufus Mall

Our latest team spotlight is our iOS guru, senior software engineer, Rufus Mall.

Who are you and what is your role at Linknode?

My name is Rufus Mall. I’ve been working as a Software Engineer at Linknode for around three and a half years now. The main skills I use of at Linknode are Graphics Programming and iOS Development. I spent the first three years of my time at Linknode working on VentusAR but have now moved on to working on our upcoming product UrbanPlanAR.

RUFUS

My favourite person in the world (alongside Steve Wozniak)

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AGI Scotland – 2016

Last week (16 March 2016) was the annual AGI Scotland event in Edinburgh.

Location is key to Linknode’s business – making information more relevant, accessible and understandable. The Association for Geographic Information is the profession for spatial scientists, geographers and GIS professionals and the Scottish program matched this variety. A couple of my highlights are below that resonated with our operations:

HES

Diana Murray spoke from the newly conglomerated Historic Scotland and the RCAHMS, forming Historic Environment Scotland in late 2015. HES have a vast array of georeferenced data exposed with services such as CANMORE. Digital provision has made the data more available – and hence more valuable. Diana explained how innovation in GIS and heritage is a key driver for the better understanding of data in order to make sense of the past. Linknode’s work in projects such as HistoryLens and with UPAR is 100% onboard with this vision.

Networks

Some great conference planning led to back-to-back presentations from the Canal & Rivers Trust and Network Rail. Both manage thousands of km of linear networks for leisure and transportation. 17th to 20th Century infrastructure is now managed by 21st Century mobile workforces, apps, 3D data and visualisation to increase efficiency and reduce downtime of complex services.
Some great examples of use of the data were given, but only scratching the surface of the big data being continually collected.

Google

Ed Parsons, who I worked with back in the last Millennium, is the Geospatial Technologist at Google and always hosts entertaining and thought provoking discussions.
With the interconnectedness of all things (IoT), and location, Ed asked what new services are we prepared to offer up our privacy for? As well as a suitably respectful discussion on philosophy of the late Douglas Adams.

And Finally

Rollo Home from the Ordnance Survey entertained with the observation that in space we struggle to orient well-defined frames of reference. In sci-fi the problem of “space and the y-axis” is always ignored as the very entertaining link explains!

212121-cartoon

For more information on the AGI, and the future of GIS and BIM, I recommend a review of the newly published Foresight Report.

Research on Trust in Visual Presentation Media

Or “How does the media used to convey a planned onshore wind development affect the understanding and belief in the visual representation?”

Background

As is well known (in the UK at least) the visual impact assessment (VIA) component of the environmental statement is a critical component in planning for development, especially so in onshore wind.  Guidance has existed for many years based on the Landscape Institute’s GLVIA guidelines and focussed for onshore wind by Scottish Natural Heritage publications.  Neither are a legal framework for planning, but represent best practice and are de-facto standards for print production.

Digital technologies are becoming prevalent in all aspects of our life.  3D modelling, virtual, mixed and augmented reality are increasingly used as communication tools for planning (including Linknode’s VentusAR) where they can be more flexible, cheaper and dynamic. In 2014, Linknode utilised academic funding to create an independent assessment of paper and digital media.  The School of Psychology at The University of Glasgow undertook the research, headed by Dr David Simmons.

Existing Research

Recent research on GIS techniques for landscape and VIA assessment (WISERD, 2012) found that for digital landscape visualisation (LV):

  • Photomontages were rated highest overall in all in each of the four evaluation areas (ease of interpretation, landscape and visual impacts and perceived accuracy)
  • LV-based outputs were generally felt to lack the ‘realism’ of photomontages
  • Animated LV was rated more highly than static LV for assessing potential landscape and visual impacts
  • Problems with usability were a major issue with regard to dynamic LV-based visual tools, particularly navigation of the viewer position using the real-time LV model

In particular reference to onshore wind and landscape, Highland Council and The University of Stirling published results in 2012, leading to updates in the SNH guidelines.  This compared the effect of focal length on printed materials (not digital), however, it did not include figures on any observed statistical significance of the results.

SNH and LI (GLVIA) also publish and reference research extensively.

Psychology of Landscape and Visual Perception

At All-Energy 2014 in Aberdeen , we presented an introduction to the psychology of landscape visualisation called “Visualisation and Perceptions in Trust”.  A download link is available under the ‘documents’ section here.

This was the background to the trial that was designed and implemented by The University of Glasgow.

2014 Trial

Local, academic and professional people were invited to take part in a blind, naive trial – the real purpose was not exposed until the end (and thus had to be approved by the ethics committee).  Assessing a viewpoint from the University, participants were given a questionnaire and an ordered set of locations to attend.  Some locations were “at a viewpoint” with a clear aspect to the proposed turbine, and some were away – where there was no real-world view.  In both zones, a viewpoint visual (prepared to SNH standards by LDA Design), a static PDF of the visual and a tablet-based view based on a live, or near-live image with animation was presented.

Results

The full results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal later this year for academic reference.  However, as part of the All-Energy Conference in Glasgow today (6 May 2015) we are highlighting key findings.  The slides below show how there is a consistent preference for digital technologies over paper and static digital.  The graphs show a median and IQR because averages are not appropriate statistics in this type of evaluation.

All Energy 2015 - A

It is up to the academics to answer the question such as Why?  But we do have observer comments that can clearly signpost us towards some of the reasons and one such eloquent description is below:

“the animated views were much more convincing and realistic of the visual impact of [the wind turbine], especially near window where I could easily visualise and compare this view both with and without the [wind turbine]”

Conclusion

Being “At the viewpoint” is important.
Observations showed that (using whatever medium), it is better assessed at the viewpoint, rather than away from the viewpoint.  This is important in comparing the input and influence of planning officials, elected members and committees when assessing a site.  The experience of users in different locations leads to different levels of belief and understanding of the project.

Tablet Medium was Preferred, Digital Static Not So
Observations showed that the tablet was rated “as good as” or “better” than other views for ALL tests (Ease of Use / Clarity / Trustworthiness / Information Shown / VIA Effectiveness).  Additionally, in overall preference, the tablet had the most trustworthy visuals and was referred, and the static digital view was the least preferred.

All Energy 2015 - B

The Matrix Comes to RenewableUK

This year at the Renewable UK 2014 annual conference and exhibition, we gave our stand visitors a little more to think about, with Neo from the Matrix asking them to choose between the ‘blissful ignorance of illusion or the truth of reality – choose the red pill’

Or really, munch on a cherry flavoured jelly bean whilst we showed you real-time visualisations! IMAG0065

The exhibition, this year at the Manchester Central gave host to 250 exhibitors, and saw nearly 4000 delegates attend the conference sessions over three days.

This gave us the opportunity to launch our new on-demand service for downloading and assessing cumulative visual impact of onshore wind turbines – the UK’s first service of this kind.

It was great to catch up with existing contacts and demonstrate our innovate technologies to new faces in the industry.

Learn more about this new service by viewing the following video or feel free to contact us.

We will be drawing the winner of our bottle of Jura Whisky very shortly – watch this space.

 

Introducing a New On-Demand Service for Cumulative Visual Impact Data

The UK’s first on-line service to search and report on the cumulative visual impact of onshore wind turbines has been developed by Linknode.

Launched at RenewableUK 2014 in Manchester on 11 November, this new data service can cut the time taken for assessments from ‘weeks to minutes’, slashing costs for wind farm developers, local communities and public bodies involved in assessing planning submissions.

It is available immediately to existing customers and, from late November, will be integrated into VentusAR v2.1, the latest version of Linknode’s visual assessment mobile app for tablets, launched originally in 2013.

VentusAR tablet application in wireline mode showing a proposed wind farm with the cumulative impact of five planned projects.

VentusAR tablet application in wireline mode showing a proposed wind farm with the cumulative impact of five planned projects.

We are very proud and excited to be the first in the UK to launch a service of this type, which is the product of more than twelve months concentrated research and development work between ourselves and our data partners.  We believe it is an important time saving and cost cutting enhancement to VentusAR’s capabilities and, as such, we are confident it will meet with a favourable response from developers, communities and planners alike.

View the following video to discover how cumulative data can be instantaneously incorporated into the VentusAR 3D visualisations, or integrated with previously captured photography, to validate the overall impression of change in the landscape or from residential properties.

 

AGI SmeSpire Awards

AGI Award

In late 2013 Linknode were delighted to receive the SmeSpire “INSPIRE for SMEs” AGI Award.

The award is designed to reward and encourage SMEs in the Geographic Information sphere for engaging with and taking advantage of INSPIRE implementation.  Linknode’s production of the VentusAR app solution is dependent on elevation and mapping data published by the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain as part of OpenData and INSPIRE directives.

The presentation was due at the AGI Awards in London on 5 December.  However the start of the winter storms in the UK (and a hapless van driver on the Forth Road Bridge) led to travel chaos and missed flights from Scotland to London.

Cameron Easton and Martin Ford from GiStandards returned to Scotland with the award to enable the completion of the formalities in Glasgow.

SmeSpire AGI Award

SmeSpire AGI Award – Cameron Easton, Crispin Hoult

Picture Credit: Ken Reid (www.kenreid.co.uk)

Digital Innovations in Planning

Having recently moved into the our swanky new offices in the Inovo Building on George Street, we decided to welcome guests to our new home by hosting an afternoon seminar ‘Digital Innovations in Planning’ and evening  reception.

Guest Speakers Perspectives

The afternoon event on was a forum style structure and format designed to engage planners and professionals with leaders in digital innovation. Digital Innovation in Planning as a topic is undergoing change drivers from many directions.

We were delighted to host guest speakers to talk about their own digital perspectives from The Scottish Government and The Crown Estate.

logo3

Ian Marchant, after stepping down from SSE has invested his time in helping Scotland become a more digital economy through the rise of disruptive technology. Ian was our host for the afternoon and provided the opening and closing remarks.

Mike Neilson, as Director of Digital at the Scottish Government set the agenda for change at a national policy level and articulated how today’s drivers directly affect the processes and influence inevitable change through equivalency.  To understand how offshore and onshore planning collaboration comes together for local and national infrastructure projects.

Dorothy Shepherd from The Crown Estate spoke on digital collaboration and efficiency with the new renewable offshore consents and how they interact with onshore planning.

Finally, our very own Crispin Hoult presented a new vision of visualisation for local authorities that demonstrates how mobile working can save time and improves consultations, based on our experiences in managing other projects including the ePlanning initiative.

You can view the presentations by our guest speakers here:

I would like to thank everyone who attended our afternoon event, it was fantastic to see so many industry leaders in the same room – and allowing us the chance to present a new insight into our industry and how ‘Digital Changes Everything’.

Evening Reception

Our evening reception was an incredible success, and on behalf of our team; thank you to those you dropped by to help us celebrate the new home of Linknode. It was great to have the opportunity to meet so many of you face to face and it was fantastic to receive such support from friends, colleagues, customers and partners.

I Would Go 5000 Miles

Conference Roundup
With the end of the Autumn conference and exhibition season approaching Linknode staff have travelled a cumulative total of 5000 miles across the UK recently.

From Liverpool to Cardiff and Birmingham to York, here are some of the highlights:

RenewableUK (Birmingham)
The RenewableUK exhibition and show at the NEC is one of the largest energy shows in the country. Linknode were present to display the new features of VentusAR v1.2 and to preview some of the new enhancements requested by our customers and partners. Watch this space for details on the new v1.3 release coming later in November.
It was great to catch up with existing contacts and meet new faces in the industry. Innovation is still developing and we are proud to be part of the green energy economy supply chain. We also got to see the National motorcycle Museum for the evening social. Congratulations to our winner of the Jura whisky.

Museums Association (Liverpool)
With just time for a change of presentation media we were back down the M74 and M6 to Liverpool for the annual Museums Association exhibition and conference at the BT Convention Centre on The Albert Docks.
MA 2013 was all about HistoryLens for Linknode. Being able to demonstrate GPS-based position triggered outreach and discovery apps for engagement and exploration across mobile platforms sparked immediate recognition and interest amongst all our visitors. Content integration with apps is high on the agenda for custodians and HistoryLens showed that highlighting to a digital demographic doesn’t have to be just another museum app; location and content can be perfectly married for accessibility.
Phil Redmond hosted the evening at The Museum of Liverpool with a passionate call to support the cultural economy locally and nationally.

AGI Showcase North (York)
With all our geospatial augmented reality solutions having foundations in spatial data management the Association of Geographic Information (AGI) events remain consistent in our calendars. The North (northern England!) event at the Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA) was well attended.
With the recent privatisation of the Post Office, the best presentation of the day was given by a passionate Dr Robert (Bob) Barr from Manchester Geomatics on the history, value and demise of the national address gazetteer as a publically owned (and potentially open) definitive dataset for the UK.
Linknode presented on the requirements for, and uses of OpenData and other sources for GIality, showing some novel visualisations and creating discussion and debate.

Next stop, Cardiff in a fortnight…

AppsWord 2013: Azure Mobile Services

This post is the fourth in a series of 4 about attending the AppsWorld conference in London.

Stewart Fullerton, one of our Application Engineers went along to the Azure mobile services talk. Stewart works on a lot of different technologies at Linknode. He works on Windows Phone & Windows 8 apps, builds Android apps using Xamarin technology and has built a few ASP.NET websites whilst he has been with us.

As a company it is important to us to know what else is going on in the app development world. The best way we could think of doing this was to head to AppsWorld in London last week. Four of us attended and I have asked the guys to write up their thought on what they saw and learned.apps_europe_logo_350

Azure Mobile Services

I attended a presentation at Apps World which describes developing for the back-end for Mobile applications in a reliable and effective manner, it was presented by Steve Plank from Microsoft (also known as ‘Planky’). He gave a demonstration on Windows Azure Mobile Services as well as the benefits of using these as opposed to a server that is independently maintained by the developers.

Steve discussed about the importance of managing cloud services which keeps cloud services available, stable and free of downtime aswell as how difficult and expensive it is to accomplish a task (having to configure firewalls, traffic, load queues, databases etc) on a server maintained by the app developers. A scenario that Steve gave was an incredible successful app that relies heavily on back end services, if any of these services fails the reputation of you as a developer as well as your app will be affected massively. Steve also stressed that the service may be as simple as submitting a high score to the cloud could fail resulting in loss of confidence by the user over the apps reliability.

Steve introduced Azure Mobile Services, a solution by Microsoft that gives the developer all the tools necessary relating to database manipulation and the creation of cloud services for an app in a cost effective manner. One of the main advantages that it gives to the developer is service management, rather than the developer managing the services independently so that they are always of a robust state, Microsoft takes care of management and maintenance to aid the developer and the users of the app concerned.

When a service fails in Azure the server reboots to try and resolve the problem, after several reboots and the service is still down the service is routed to another active server so that it is still available for the app to interact with. Microsoft has tens of thousands of servers located throughout the world and the same cloud services are copied to these servers so that they are constantly running and the chance of a service failing aswell as potential data loss while using the app is extremely low.

Azure portalSteve then introduced the Windows Azure Portal, where the developer can create websites, databases, cloud services (Insert, Read Update, Delete etc) and custom API’s. He then showed the audience how these are created through the Portal. Another advantage about azure is that everything that the app depends on (services, databases etc) are stored in the one server and are accessed easily by creating back end clients in code.

As a developer that has used Windows Azure to create cloud services for apps I have embraced the benefits of this service due to its ease of use and not having to worry about maintenance costs as well as my cloud services failing when the apps are in use. Windows Azure is also cross-platform compatible (IOS, Android and WP8) which makes things even more easier as a developer. If your app relies on a back end service, Windows Azure is mandatory.

AppsWorld mini Series:
3D Technology | Enterprise Development | Android Performance | Azure Mobile Services