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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2016  /  April 2016  /  Intelligent land-use: leading the big data integration

Intelligent land-use: leading the big data integration

Mark Maslin reports on Royal Society Industrial Fellowship

Intelligent land-use: leading the big data integration

The Royal Society has published Translating innovation Showcasing UK entrepreneurial science, a set of case studies of recent fellowships, including the Industrial Fellowship held by Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography), to be completed later this year.

In his case study, Mark noted that the “big data” revolution has given huge amounts of new information to help individuals, companies and governments make better sense of the world, but that different organisations collect data in different ways.

He had spent years looking into the use of satellite data to monitor the earth’s surface, with a particular interest in climate change and its implications. It was evident that analysis required combining different data sources, developing a system that translates different spatial datasets about the state of the planet into a common format and how this relates to anything from plant growth to human health.

In 2012 Mark co-founded Rezatec, which employed 12 people, with £1 million turnover by 2015. Its first clients were in the forestry sector, helping to manage sustainable production. Six major companies in the UK water industry are also being helped, combining satellite and ground data to map water and peat reserves, and tracking sources of contamination, from single city to national geographical scales.

In agriculture, the work is helping British Sugar investigate why 10% of their farmers have much higher sugar beet yields than the rest. Mark explains: “Our job is to understand why those farmers are doing better at managing their land to get those higher yields. If other farmers can learn to get similar yields then there’s a significant increase in profit margins.”

Around £4 million has been raised for further development from such organisations as Innovate UK, the European Space Agency and NERC. Mark’s ambition is the user-friendly integration of all the data created by our information-overloaded society.

Looking ahead, he notes: “Anyone will be able to go online and start to play with huge datasets, which we make sure are all complete and compatible.”





Mark Maslin

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