Friday, 11 July 2014

A week's work experience with Temple

Olivia Dawson - Work Experience Student

I have recently spent a week with Temple completing my work experience in order to gain knowledge on the work involved in an environmental and planning consultancy. This took place during my summer holiday, once I had finished my GCSEs. I thought that it would be beneficial to gain some work experience to assist me in my future studies and career choice. I wanted to do work experience at Temple as I have a particular interest in sustainability and the environment. After researching different environmental consultancies, I found Temple’s key projects, such as their team’s involvement in HS2, very interesting so decided to get in contact.

What my work experience involved:

I have not done any work experience before so I had very little knowledge of working in an office; therefore I was unsure what my work experience would involve. I had a very busy schedule which consisted of many different tasks that kept me occupied during the week.

Day One:

On my first day, Monday 30th June, I met Jonathan Say, who was to be my Line Manager for the week. He gave me a short briefing session and immediately set me some reading work on the services Temple provides. Later in the day, I had a session with Greg Yiangou on his involvement with the Energy Digest newsletter. My first task at Temple was to find related articles that could be used in the upcoming Energy Digest newsletter, which seeks to inform staff on developments in the energy sector.

Day Two:

The next day, I had my first experience of sitting in and observing a team meeting. I enjoyed learning about how the team worked, which was a very different experience to the previous day, when I spent the majority of my time doing independent research. After this, I had a session with Charlene Baker who was able to give me lots of information on the procedures involved in environmental assessment for major infrastructure projects and also gave me a variety of booklets to extend my knowledge. Charlene also set me a task, which was to do research on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). Later in the day, I had two more sessions, one with Toby Wastling, who gave me a briefing on his work as bid manager for Temple, and one with Rob Slatcher, who did a session on EIA knowledge. These sessions filled up the afternoon and gave me a greater insight to the different aspects of Temple.

Day Three:

On my third day, I had even more sessions with different departments in Temple. I began the day by completing a task set by Amy Cook, I then enjoyed finding out about all the aspects involved in planning new infrastructure projects. Once this task was finished, Sam Dawson gave me a session on her role in the company. I found out about her role as Environmental Management Systems (EMS) coordinator. One part of the day, which was of particular interest to me, was the Brownbag Lunch session that I was able to sit in on. This was run by Jenny Stafford and Stephen Glenny and was on Temple’s Environment, Society and Business Knowledge Hub, which seeks to grow company knowledge it these areas. The talk was an opportunity for me to see how the company worked together.

Day Four:

My morning began with a site visit with Mark Furlonger, who is in the planning team. We went to a site to view a potential development for rejuvenating the area, which currently suffers from anti-social behaviour. The rejuvenation process would involve building a new school, building affordable housing and redesigning open spaces. This site visit allowed me to experience how Temple operated outside of the office, so was very interesting. After my morning with the planning team, Gill Cotter gave me a session on her involvement with different developments as part of the air quality team. We visited the Shard and Guy’s hospital, as the air quality team recently did a lot of work measuring the air quality at these particular sites. This was another exciting outing which I found very useful.

Day Five:

My final day started with a session with the GIS team. I had a vague idea of what GIS was from previous studies but was not entirely sure how it was used. I was shown the basic skills needed to operate the GIS software, which was both extremely useful and complicated. After this, I had a session with Genevieve Oller on marketing. This showed me a different side to Temple, such as the type of events that occur and how the company is advertised on social media websites. My last session of the week was with Giulia Civello who did a session on an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) project. We went through the cumulative impacts and everything that has to be considered when doing an EIA, which is particularly important for this development due to its position on the green belt. Rachel Lambert from the planning team gave me my final task of the week, which was to do a Planning Application Review.

What I learned:
In my opinion, my work experience at Temple has taught me a lot about how to behave in an office environment. I have realised the importance of time management, particularly with being efficient when completing tasks and punctuality. I have very much valued my time at Temple and feel as though I have greatly benefited from this experience. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

GIS and data mash-ups

Xiyu Phoon - Consultant
It has been estimated that around 90 per cent of data today was churned out in the last two years. With the explosion in social media and provision of open government data, perhaps it comes as no surprise that the era of ’Big Data’ has arrived.
Every morsel of data, no matter how insignificant it may be perceived to be, has a story to tell. With almost unfettered access an immense library of data at our fingertips, we can analyse and visualise data in all sorts of ways and find some compelling stories.
As an example, we might be interested to see whether there is a relationship between fast food and crime. We can download data on the number of fast food outlets per local authority from Public Health England and crime deprivation from the Open Data Communities website. The number of fast-food outlets is given as a rate per 100,000 of the population, whereas crime deprivation includes burglaries, thefts, criminal damage and violence and is ranked from most to least deprived based on population-weighted average ranks of lower super output areas within local authorities.
When we plot the values together, we see a negative trend, suggesting that the most crime-prone areas have the most fast food outlets. However, we cannot discern from these datasets alone whether this is because fast food promotes criminal behaviour or that fast food outlets tend to pop up in the most deprived areas, which happen to have higher crime rates. As with all forms of data analysis, there will undoubtedly be some caveats, such as how data sets were collected in the first place and whether they are comparable.
Given that most data has an inherent spatial component, we can take such basic data analysis further and plot a map, which can be quite useful to see the distribution of fast food outlets.
As we can see, there is plenty of data available from a number of different sources which can be combined in order to discover all sorts of interesting titbits of information which can be presented in a variety of ways.
Our day-to-day projects at Temple focus primarily on environmental data, but we are increasingly making use of open data to enhance our analyses and help our clients with more in-depth decision-making.