This essay discusses how the modifiable areal unit problem, varying geospatial data availability, and power relations inherent in maps complicate the use of maps in policy-making.

Maps are widely-known conventional models of the real world, serving as miniature representations of some spatial phenomena, trend, or relationship. The map’s role has been transformed from being an artifact of design and a navigational tool, to an interface that stores and communicates spatial information. Here, maps are decision-making tools, and are critical to policy-making by informing areas that require policy interventions. However, the production, analysis, and use of maps are prone to uncertainties that jeopardise either the maps’ accuracy, or the efficacy of policy-making. …


This essay strives to justify the geographical scholarship of ‘space’ as a concept, by illustrating its utility to academia, to social justice and to other aspects of society.

The concept of space and its social construction are fundamental to geographical knowledge (Wardenga, 2013). This “high frequency of reference to the spatial aspect” highlights how this concept is a “basic prerequisite” for geography’s foothold as a scientific discipline (Mazúr and Urbánek, 1983: 139), making the concept worthy of geographical focus, study and discourse. Similar to how all phenomena that exist in time have a history, all phenomena that exist in space have a geography (New Relevance for Science and Society, 1997). Consequently, one of the lenses through which geographers view the world would be examining spatial relationships, variations and…


A discussion on how ecological modernisation, or ‘sustainable development’, is beneficial in tackling ecological crises insofar as it promises capital gains.

This essay has been published on Res Publica Politics. Article available here.

The planet, ecologically, is facing a catastrophe. Climate change has engendered adverse impacts on ecosystems, weather systems, and even urban life. Currently, a dominant approach to solving the environmental crisis would be ecological modernisation (EM), which tackles environmental issues by making capitalism less wasteful and more sustainable, whilst maintaining the current capitalist modes of production and consumption. Herein, EM reconciles the priorities of environmentalists, enterprises and the state, with environmental issues ‘being increasingly reflected in…[the] economic domain’ (Prell and Sun, 2015: 257). EM’s success depends on achieving long-term…


A proposed improvement to the geographically weighted regression function in R for effective comparison of model fit between local and global models.

Rationale

The Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) is an exploratory analytical tool that generates local regressions, which makes the spatial analysis more sensitive to conditions that vary locally over the area of interest. This is in contrast to a linear regression, which uses identical coefficients across the entire study area, since it is based on the unrealistic hypothesis of spatial uniformity of the effect of explanatory variables on the dependent variable (Brunsdon et al. 1996). The GWR is preferred over the linear regression in the presence of spatial heterogeneity, and allows the values and significance of a model to vary spatially in…


While commendable for pioneering the measurement of urban biodiversity, the City Biodiversity Index is not flawless due to its underemphasis on ecosystem services and its equal-weight approach. This essay proposes the use of Principal Components Analysis to more accurately weight the core components.

Given the significance of biodiversity to human well-being (Taylor & Hochuli, 2015), the burgeoning rate of urbanisation has engendered increasing pressure to measure biodiversity conservation efforts in cities. The City Biodiversity Index (CBI) is a pioneering tool designed to measure such urban biodiversity. It strives to benchmark biodiversity conservation efforts across cities, in order to pinpoint existing lacunae in conservation efforts. The CBI ‘serves as a self-assessment monitoring tool’ for cities to improve the management of their urban ecological resources and conservation of their urban biodiversity (Tok, 2011). The Index was formulated by Singapore’s National Parks Board, alongside a committee…


To investigate the role of pubs as a ‘social leveller’, this essay uses spatial analysis techniques to map Westminster’s pub culture in relation to socioeconomic attributes of the borough.

There are few amenities as integral to British culture as pubs. Once described as ‘the heart of England’ (Pepys, 1661 in Fletcher, 2013), these pubs serve alcohol and food. Beyond feeding British alcoholism, pubs are important places for sociality: having a pint constitutes a ‘social act’, giving a ‘sense of inclusion…independent of our status’ (King, 2008: 3). Thus, pubs act as a ‘social leveller’ by attracting customers from various socioeconomic classes (ibid). However, pubs are associated with criminality: alcohol consumption increases proclivity to commit crime (Wheeler, 2018), violent tendencies (Exum, 2006), and the victim’s vulnerability to assault (Testa & Parks…


This essay proposes a fixed effects regression design to investigate the causal relationship between vertical greening and house prices in Singapore, and evaluates the strengths and limitations of this causal inference technique.

This is a research design proposal written as part of my assignment requirements for POLS0013: Causal Analysis module at UCL. I will outline how this research may be carried out, how to obtain the required data, a justification of my proposed methodology, and an overview of the potential limitations of this proposal.

Comprising vertical plantscapes (Fig 1, 2), vertical greening is a novel urban design tool with transformative potential on the urban landscape. Beyond environmental and health benefits, vertical greening also enhances the aesthetic of buildings and remarkably improves the visual amenity of a city (Timur & Karaca, 2013). …

Zenn Wong

Geographic data scientist and undergraduate at UCL. https://www.linkedin.com/in/zenn-wong/

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