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About GIS Research Group


The Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Research Group has been established for over 30 years, during which time its research activities and outputs have gained it an international reputation. 

Our members have extensive knowledge of the use of GIS in applied studies in addition to a wide expertise in teaching and researching with both open source and proprietary GIS packages. Staff in the Centre have published over 100 papers in peer reviewed journals. 

Our research activities are currently configured around two principal sub-groups:

A key focus for the Geographical Information Systems Research group has been the ESRC/HEFCW-funded Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD), a collaborative venture between the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea and established to promote cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary research in the social sciences across the UK and internationally. 

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Analysing the accessibility of transport systems


Staff members have research interests that span across a wide range of applications areas associated with Geographical Information Systems technology. These include: geographical accessibility modelling; landscape visualisation, spatial data generalisation, population estimation and small-area modelling; automated cartographic design, GIS-based optimisation techniques; ethical surveillance; digital surface modelling; and remote sensing including UAV surveying and mapping. 

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UAV surveying and mapping

The team has established an enviable publications record, building on their skills and expertise in key technologies such as Geographical Information Systems (QGIS, ArcGIS), spatially enabled databases (PostGIS, SpatiaLite), and web mapping technologies (Leaflet, OpenLayers, and GeoServer). We are actively engaged in software and systems development using C#, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, PHP, and SQL, all of which have been deployed to develop and disseminate analytical tools to promote the application of advanced spatial analyses. 

Funding success 

The group has attracted significant external funding, including recently:

  • Wales Institute for Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD), Civil Society, Civic Stratification and Civil repair, funded by ESRC Large Centres Grant; £8m of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and a further £4.6m of funding from its partner Universities; USW grant value: £352,178 Grant Reference: ES/S012435/1) 2019-2024  
  • Enhancing our understanding of access to sporting facilities in Wales through geospatial analyses, Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II) PhD studentship (in association with Sport Wales), 2018-2019 
  • Sports Facilities Assessment, funded by the Welsh Government (£5,000), 2018
  • Accessibility models to provide a better understanding of the current availability of childcare services. Funded by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) for the Welsh Government (£5,000), 2017-2018 
  • Ethical surveillance – Smart technology for dementia support in the community, Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II) PhD studentship (in association with SymlConnect, 2016-2019 
  • Developing open-source tools and support materials to measure geographical accessibility to screening and cancer support services, Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II) PhD studentship (in association with Tenovus Cancer Care), 2016-2019 
  • A customised GIS system for investigating inequalities in access to sporting facilities in Wales, funded by Sport Wales Illuminate Programme (£2,500), 2015 
  • Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Methods (WISERD) Civil Society, Phase II, funded by ESRC Large Centres Grant; £7 million; USW contribution:  £248,792 (Grant Reference: ES/L009099/1) 2014-2019 
  • Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Methods (WISERD), Phase I funded by HEFCW and ESRC (HEFCW Reconfiguration and Collaboration Fund); £3.4 million; ESRC Methods Programme; £1.46 million), 2009-2011. (Grant Reference: RES-576-25-0021) 2009-2011 
  • Data usability. A three-year PhD project (£59,000) funded by Ordnance Survey 2013-2016