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Our Research


The GIS Unit has a well established research track record in pure and applied geoscience research. 

Notable progress has been made in the following areas:

  • accessibility modelling
  • landscape visualisation
  • spatial data generalisation
  • population estimation modelling
  • automated cartographic design
  • GIS-based optimisation techniques
  • ethical surveillance
  • digital surface modelling
  • remote sensing

Current and recent research

  • Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Methods (WISERD), Phase 1 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. 3 year PhD project (£59,000) – funded by Ordnance Survey 2013-2016
  • 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
  • A customised GIS system for investigating inequalities in access to sporting facilities in Wales, funded by Sport Wales Illuminate Programme £2500, 2015
  • 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
  • Ethical surveillance – Smart technology for dementia support in the community, Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II) PhD studentship (in association with SymlConnect 2016-2019
  • 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, £5000, 2017-2018
  • 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 Welsh Government, £5000, 2018

Recent research

Improving access to mobile cancer services

Professor Gary Higgs and KESS-funded PhD student Richard Williams  worked with Tenovus Cancer Care to optimise the location and delivery of their mobile cancer units. 


"Few of us have not been touched in some way by the impacts of cancer. Therefore, this research has been particularly rewarding given the need to reduce the distances involved to get treatment and advice," said Professor Higgs.


"The benefits for patients at a particularly stressful time are clear – more convenient and accessible locations for treatment and environmental benefits in terms of reduced miles travelled."



Using Geographic Information Systems to optimise public services

Dr Mitch Langford of the GIS Research Group has developed innovative spatial analytical tools that enable service providers to identify gaps in service provision and delivery.

The user-friendly tools enable planners to monitor the availability of public services in relation to current and future trends in social conditions, and to examine the impact of further trends in service provision.

The research has helped Welsh Government and Sports Wales to support policies geared towards the social processes involved in accessing services.