GEOG3150 - GIS, Geocomputation and Geoplanning - Semster 2

Seminar 3 - Modelling Societal Challenges

This week, we are going to look at three scenarios where data availability and uncertainties necessitate the use of some type of model. In groups, you will be asked to assess and discuss one of the challenges set out below. The overall aim is to produce an outline for a model that will lead to a better understand the scenario. The issues that you identify and your modelling recommendations will be shared and debated with other groups.

A brief outline of the problem and a selection of potential data sources will be offered. These data sources are by no means exhaustive and you should think about how you could utilise additional sources. When coming up with your recommendations, think about the trade-off between accuracy and transparency of the method. After all these are problems which need to be explained to a wide audience who include policy makers, scientists and the public - if they cannot understand your proposed model then it will not be used in practice.

Challenge 1 - Migration

Migration is an important component of change in local areas but is very difficult to measure accurately. Resource allocation decisions are dependent on up to date estimates of local populations. Migrants have an origin and a destination, but linking the two is very difficult. Modelling this interaction between origin and destination is a key challenge for improving migration estimates. For this challenge, think about how you would use a model to improve estimates of migration.

Potential data sources:

  • Census - a snapshot of migration flow data in a given year
  • National Health Service (NHS) based sources - total in and out migration to/from an area each year, plus an estimate of the flow between these areas. These sources undercount certain sub-populations, such as young men.
  • Other administrative data sources. University registrations, council tax records etc.

  • Challenge 2 - Disease Spread

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) are concerned about a new flu virus that might begin to spread globally. Initial research suggests that warm climates and unsanitary conditions support the growth of the virus. The WHO would like to use a model to predict the countries and cities that will be the most strongly affected by the virus in order to begin preparing support measures.

    Potential data sources include:

    Challenge 3 - Economic Cycles

    The economic cycle of the western world is characterised by boom and bust. A key challenge is predicting the timing and intensity of these cyclical peaks and troughs. Being able to do so would allow policy makers to negate the negative effects of this instability and perhaps support a more stable economy in the future.

    Potential data sources:

    [School of Geography homepage] [Leeds University homepage]