Geography: Defining the Boundaries of Global Challenges


Photo by cocoparisienne

Google maps is great tool, it provides us with access to a large amount of data for planning any journey by any means of transport. It helps us find the best place to have a meal or stock up on stationery. Google maps presents a load of data referenced to a geographical system. There are plenty of different data maps available; the Environment Agency Maps present the different areas at risk of floods, air pollution and many more different environmental data. What if this could be combined in the same way as the travel data on google maps to present a smarter way of solving problems.

This is the idea of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), it uses data, referenced to geographical coordinates in order to have a greater insight into the geographical aspects of different challenges. GIS has revolutionised the way we see and solve problems. GIS enables us to consider a wider range of parameters and understand the connection in between these parameters. This enables us to solve problems through a more informed process. GIS Missions, offers a great insight into how GIS can help solve practical problems in the planning stage of both small and major projects. It can help identify the impact of flooding in an area, the effectiveness of of renewable energy systems or on a personal note create Property Heat Maps identifying where you can afford to live. GIS is a powerful tool to visualise and understand complex challenges.

The quality of GIS analysis is only as powerful as the data input. This leads to limitation, the data required is often closed down and in varied formats. In order to effectively use GIS to solve global challenges and create smarter communities, smarter cities; we need big data solution. Data needs to be made open licensed, easy to access and in an open format. Open Street Map and Quantum GIS are both initiatives which bring the power of GIS into an open environment.  Open street maps is a map created openly by the community; it gathers local data and knowledge which is shared openly and under open licence. Quantum GIS is an open GIS plateforme, it enables the design of custom user generated functions to better analyse geographical data. We need these open solution in order to understand and overcome the global challenges society faces.

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Be Enterprising be Sustainable

Series 3/3: Engineering Leadership – This series reflects on the process required to successfully turn ideas into action.


Social enterprise is a great idea; its about focusing on impact instead of profit. When trying to make a difference social enterprise can be a great way to build up a sustainable project that will give back to the community. A social enterprise isn’t about a miracle solution to fund your project. It isn’t a free pass to focus purely on impact. A social enterprise is an enterprise designed for social good. Entrepreneurship is about effectively and feasibly moving a project forward. Its about understanding your strengths and weaknesses as well opportunities and threats. Entrepreneurship is about researching and knowing your market, understanding who you can work with and who your potential client are. Entrepreneurship is about understanding what your client wants and how you can deliver it. Entrepreneurship is knowing the impact of your project and having a system in place to measure the impact.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be complex, the Young Foundation have developed a social enterprise business canvas. This is a simple way to outline a business structure to your project. To understand who your potential customers may be. EDSI currently has no business or funding structure, it does however have a business canvas. EDSI will continue to build up an understanding of the potential clients and what it could deliver to these clients. EDSI embraces entrepreneurship as an opportunity to build up a sustainable project with an effective impact. EDSI will aim to become a social enterprise and build up quality resources which responds to the mission of “Connecting the Dots Between People and Engineering”.

Leading projects is challenging, it demands perseverance, hard work and a passion to make a difference. The journey over the last few years has been challenging, I have learnt from others, I have learnt from failure, I have learnt by trying. This has however been a fulfilling experience meeting passionate and amazing people. Working on projects that I am passionate about and building up EDSI has been a fascinating and exciting experience. I cannot wait to see where EDSI will go and what impact it will have. If this series has encouraged you to start you own project or to get involved with EDSI I would welcome your feedback and questions: you can use the contact from or connect with me on social media.

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Communication is Key

Series 2/3: Engineering Leadership – This series reflects on the process required to successfully turn ideas into action.

Law of diffussion

Developing a passion and knowing what you want to accomplish and how you can do it is great. You have built up the foundation to build up a legacy and make a difference. How do you move forward and communicate you idea; make your voice be heard? Larry Smith does a great TED talk on why you will not follow your passion; following your passion is different, its odd! I have regularly tried to express and explain my ideas and often not been understood. It is important not to be disheartened but focus on developing the way you communicate your ideas. This will enable you to move from an odd and misunderstood passion to a professionally present project with a clear direction.

Simon Sinek presents the difference in between a successfully idea and a good idea in terms of engagement: who is your product reaching? The difficult realisation is that some people will just get your idea but that dose not make success. Success is related to how you engage and influence the people who do not understand your idea. EDSI would not be successfully is it only managed to reach the people who understand the importance of sustainable impact and community engagement. It would still be a good project but for EDSI to be successfully I must engage with people who do not understand the importance of the questions EDSI raises.

Reaching people who don’t understand your project is challenging. To achieve this you need a very clear and defined message that connects directly with your why. You need to reflect this message in everything you do. I am passionate about design and the role of graphic designers. Building the logo and website for EDSI was about presenting the key message of EDSI: “Connecting the Dots Between People and Engineering”. Design builds up the professionalism and authority of your idea. Design enables you to connect with the people you want to reach.

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Try and Try Again

Series 1/3: Engineering Leadership – This series reflects on the process required to successfully turn ideas into action.


Leadership is important, its about taking that extra step, recognising that you have something positive to contribute to society. How can you lead? How do you know you have a great idea? How do you build up this idea and get others involved? This is the foundation of leadership, the building block to social action. Simon Sinek has contributed a great Ted talk about leadership. During this speech he promotes the importance of the why. Leadership is not about your ideas and your technics, its about you, the deep and personal you and what you are passionate about. The message is simple if you know the why, the what and the how will follow.

The why is a personal journey, you are the only one who will know what you are passionate about. Understanding what motivates you and how you can use this energy to engage others is difficult. The journey will not always go as planned or have the expected outcome. You need to be prepared to take the first step dive into something new learn different skills and apply these skills to different projects. These projects won’t always work, some will fail, some will stall. What is important is to move forward and in the correct way. A successful leadership journey is not just about where you are going but also about the legacy you leave behind. Always try to move a situations and people forward share what you have learnt and encourage others in their development.

I have failed repeatedly in the last year. I have set myself challenges and haven’t met them. I have tried to set up a social enterprise, unsuccessfully. The road to building up EDSI has been difficult, its been challenging. I have however found something which motivates me to push forward and overcome the challenges. A project which I am passionate about and in which the what and the how has been built around the why. The road to leadership may be pathed with failure but make these failures count, learn from each project, commit to each project and do your best to reach milestones. I love pitching ideas and presenting projects, for each unsuccessful project I believe I have inspired and made people think.

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Civil Engineering: A journey with the UN

Why am I, a civil engineer, going on a journey with the United Nations University for Peace in South East Asia?

“A passion to understand how my vocation can and does make a difference, how civil engineering can be a part of the bigger picture, working together with other disciplines to engineer civilization”

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