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2021 Geography in Government Awards Shortlisted Nominations - Advancing geospatial data science

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The 2021 Geography in Government Awards opened for nominations in January, seeking examples of excellence in geography across the range of disciplines and organisations. The awards are now in their third year, and all the judges were impressed by the outstanding quality and range of examples the profession can offer.  Once again, reading the nominations it was clear that geography in government is a broad profession with excellence across the public sector and a profession which is full of dedicated and talented individuals.

Although we’re again unable to host the award ceremony in person this year, the Government Geography Profession would like to take this opportunity to share the short listed nominations for each category. The virtual ceremony will take place on Thursday 27th May where the category winners will be announced, along with the overall winner.  The overall winner is invited to the hugely prestigious Royal Geographical Society Awards, recognising the impact and importance of geography across the public sector.

Here are the shortlisted nominations for the category of "Advancing geospatial data science", along with a short description of the work in alphabetical order.

Data Science Campus, Office for National Statistics

Estimating vehicle and pedestrian activity from town and city traffic cameras

Traffic cameras are a source of open data offering value to public authorities by providing real-time mobility statistics for assessing the impact of policies on local populations and economies. This work built a solution that processes large volumes of traffic camera data from across the UK, using a deep learning pipeline to detect pedestrians and vehicles of different types. The solution provides ‘busyness’ trends covering various UK settlements and has been thoroughly validated against comparable sources. The results have been adopted by ONS as an experimental faster indicator of the impact of the COVID-19 on the UK economy and society.

Evidence Earth Observation Services, Natural England

Moorland Change Map & Wildfire Mapping

The Moorland Change Map (MCM) is an annual map showing whether change has occurred on 2,000km² of heather-dominated uplands in England. We analyse satellite data to identify and map change (burning or cutting). These results allow us to compile frequent, accurate and detailed information on changes which will revolutionise our ability to understand how individual moorlands are being managed and advise on their sustainable recovery. The MCM also allows us to see the big picture – this will be a valuable tool in charting the effect of regulation and policy aiming to cease regular burning on the most sensitive habitats.

ONS Geospatial, Office for National Statistics

Analysis of geographic concentrations of Covid-19 mortality over time

ONS Geospatial led on the production of analysis exploring the spatiotemporal patterns of Covid-19 mortality for small areas across England and Wales from February to August 2020. The analysis, which was published by ONS and reported on by the BBC, shows areas in the country where Covid-19 related mortality were higher than would be expected and could not be explained by known Covid-19 risk factors. It highlighted how Covid-19 impacted areas differently, with some areas having experienced prolonged periods of mortality slightly higher than expected; while other areas had much higher levels of mortality, but over a much shorter timeframe.

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