Successful Suburban Town Centres
A study of the relationship between morphology, sociability, economics and accessibility

Please note that this project has finished. The current project is Adaptable Suburbs.

Profiler Application Interface

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section one: profiler status
section two: current map theme window
section three: map theme supporting information
section four: map menu system


Figure 1 profiler application interface



Section 1represents the profiler status; this essentially provides the header information for the user. It identifies selections made by the user, showing which town centre profile has been requested and the mapping theme currently under investigation.


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Section 2 demarcates the map window; in this section of the application window the chosen cartographic representation is displayed. This section also provides the user with the opportunity for interaction in two ways each enabling the user to change the town centre under observation. As in all indexes this one is no different, the town centres have been organised alphabetically, so if the user wishes to look at the next town centre they can do so by selecting the next centre button. The user can also go back to the previous town centre by selecting the previous centre button. Due to the importance of comparisons across centres the user can also choose to start a slideshow of the map theme. This is activated by right clicking on the map and then moving the mouse off the map to any area in the display window to the left of section 2. When the slideshow is activated the slideshow status will change to inform the user that it is on. The slideshow slowly transitions through the selected map theme for all the town centres. Whilst the slideshow is activated the user can pause it to study in more detail the phenomena of the map theme, this is done by placing the cursor over the map, the slideshow status, above the map will change to reflect this choice. To restart the slideshow, once again the user moves the cursor out of the section 2 display area. When the slideshow is active the profiler status will change automatically to update the town centre name in accordance with the transitions.


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Section 3 of the user interface represents the window area where the supporting information for the map theme is provided. This window section provides information which will enhance the knowledge gathering experience. In general 3 or 4 items of supporting information are provided to the user in this section. At the top of the section the user is provided with an overview map. The map overview locates the selected town centre in relation to the wider London context. So for those unfamiliar with the location of the centres, they can see its position in relation to London and the other sample centres. The map highlights the location of the centre using a red rectangle and highlights the larger study region of the project, the outer London suburbs, affectionately known as the historical doughnut. The boundary of London's outer suburbs was defined by the area between the M25 and what broadly represents the north/south circular, London's inner and outer orbital roads, chosen because of the considerable development of these areas during the inter war periods (1919 to 1939). If the slideshow status has been activated the map overview image will change accordingly.

Beneath the map overview the user is provided with a legend to support each map. The legend provides the user with the meaning of the classifications, colours and symbols that have been used to create the representations. All the maps were designed to conform to standard cartographic practices, ensuring patterns associated to themes could be differentiated and effectively visualised to facilitate interpretation. To support the legend, where relevant and available, data tables are provided for the socio-economic data to provide contextual information. In some cases the data tables classify the ranges by a series of break points representative of wider trends, enabling further meaning and knowledge to be drawn from the maps. For example if the user decided to explore car ownership in a suburban town centres, a diverging colour scheme was used to highlight proportions of households in an output area without a car as compared to London (defined by the Greater London Authority). Other breakpoints for the legend corresponded to the average number of households without a car for key administrative boundaries; South England, East England and the outer London suburban area.

In the case of the Space Syntax maps the legend map overview and the legend is complemented by a brief description of the measure. For some users the Syntax graphs and measures will be unfamiliar; the measure descriptions provide the user with some fundamental information that should aid even the novice user in their understanding and interpretation of the Syntax representations.

For all types of maps accessible through the profiler, the final element included in section 3 of the user interface is a hyperlink that enables the user to click for a more detailed description of the data/measures used to create the maps. The links provide access to a webpage that lists the metadata for the website. Metadata are data about the data being mapped, ie the purpose of metadata is to provide supporting information that describes the original data and its source. The data descriptions page provides the user with more detailed insight into the datasets used and the caveats and limitations of their use.


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Section 4 The final section in the user interface window is devoted to the map menu and is comprised of two menu elements which enable the user to change the town centre or change the map theme. At the top of the section is the menu element associated to the names of the town centre, which is divided into two subfolders: sample centres and control centres. The 20 sample centres were selected by using a randomly stratified sampling method of the town centres in London's outer suburbs whereas the 6 control samples represent larger centres that the sample centres can be compared to. The centres in both subfolders are organised alphabetically.

Below the town centres menu is the second element of the map menu, the mapping themes menu. The mapping themes menu is also divided into two, giving the user the option of viewing the Space Syntax data or the socio-economic data. The socio-economic data menu is organised alphabetically and is comprised of map theme folders and subfolders nested within them. There are 6 socio-economic data mapping theme folders which are listed in the table below.

The space syntax mapping menu lists 4 different types of space syntax measures that are available through the profiler. Each syntax measure is available for a number of different metric scales and for 5 different backgrounds; none, community, industry, offices and retail. The backgrounds are density surfaces created from the functional activity points (Table 1) and were created using the land use activity assigned to postcode point locations, derived from Address Layer 2 data. A technique called kernel density estimation (KDE) was then used to create a density surface of the point locations for the different types of land use. KDE is most commonly used to estimate population density and diseases or the incidence of crime. In this study the process was used to create a probabilistic density surface of different types of land uses, based upon the point locations of postcodes and their corresponding land use classification. The reason for doing this was to explore the presence of any inherent spatial pattern, and to produce a generalised surface that could be used for visualisations with the Space Syntax maps. One limitation of this method which must be noted is that the surfaces do not predict sizes or concentrations of employment, because that attribute data was not available. The surfaces merely present a generalised view of the types of land uses that are occurring and the concentrations of postcode locations, it enables consideration of the question of where they are situated. The density surfaces are available as background layers for all of the Syntax measures and their associated measures. More information about the measures available via the profiler is listed below in Table 2.


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EPSRC reference: EP/D06595X/1