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Professor of Geo-Information, University of East London, UK

MPhil (1985), PhD (1995) HKU Geography

I hold MPhil (1985) and PhD (1995) degrees from Geography, HKU. I’m proud that both my higher degrees are from Hong Kong.

I arrived in the Territory in 1977, aged 24, having spent a year travelling overland from UK. I started work as a geographer in consulting engineering doing mapping, geomorphology and aerial photographic interpretation. The Po Shan Road disaster in 1976 had prompted the government to undertake comprehensive slope mapping and classification, and I was part of that vital effort for public safety. I then moved onto opportunity and constraints mapping using my own GIS and 3-D visualisation software on mega projects such as the Tin Shui Wai, and the power distribution networks for the Daya Bay nuclear power station. I moved to HK PolyU as founding Head of the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics (LSGI) where I pioneered work on spatial decision-support systems for drainage basin planning. Much of my work in HK is captured in my book GIS, Environmental Modeling and Engineering.

Coming back to the UK in 1995, I decided to switch from analysing physical landscapes to the multi-dimensionality of big data landscapes, particularly getting down to the granularity of individual transactions. The spatial is still important because everything happens somewhere, whether you walk into a shop and buy something or do it online. Thus, I started doing research for the Metropolitan Police, National Health Service, International Olympic Committee, utility companies, management consultants and local authorities. I provided insights, for example, into repeat victims of crime, the relationship between urban layout and anti-social behaviour, usage patterns of accident and emergency in hospitals, impacts of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and recently mapped psychotic illness in England from 240 million GP prescriptions. I run MSc and Professional Doctorate programmes in Data Science. I have sat on policy advisory committees for government. In 2011, in recognition of my contribution, I was conferred Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. In 2017 I was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

Geography takes you as far as your imagination and your willingness to learn new things.

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