Well done to our two winners of this year’s SLA Undergraduate Awards 2021 and thanks to all the students who entered and took part. The standard of entries was as high as ever, making choosing our winners a difficult task.

We would like to thank all the students who entered. We had a really good number of entries this year which is great to see but kept out judges busy.

Here are the winners:

Undergraduate Winners

Huge well done to our undergrad winners:

  • 1st Place – George Sullivan
  • Runner up – Hannah Gin

More about our winners…

George Sullivan – Winner

Biography: As an undergraduate student at the University of Leeds, my degree encompassed a wide range of areas from urban geography, transport planning and the interaction of society and space. This was coupled by some time working with NatWest, which helped inspire my dissertation on financial exclusion. Since then, I’ve gone on to teach geography, working with Teach First in a deprived school in Huddersfield.

Dissertation summary: The literature on financial exclusion and spatial indices is extensive and wide ranging, though there have been few attempts to quantify localised financial exclusion. This is a subject of growing importance with the withdrawal of cash infrastructure and shifts towards online banking. An index was constructed using the locations of cash infrastructure, geodemographics (for instance, income and housing tenure) and other data such as internet use to identify areas at risk of financial exclusion, aiding organisations to develop interventions to tackle financial exclusion. The index showed whilst there is no apparent correlation between financial exclusion and deprivation, pockets of extreme financial exclusion are generally found in deprived communities, and affluent, suburban areas tend to score consistently high.

The attributing causes vary, from a lack of infrastructure, to low car availability, but income levels have a pronounced influence. Three policy proposals were developed, including offering banking services at PayPoint outlets, and converting cash machines to cash recyclers, but improving digital adoption was found to be the most effective intervention, so long as it is implemented by community organisations. Policies purely targeting infrastructure provision or addressing social exclusion are
unlikely to be effective, community-based initiatives coupled with wider reforms to the financial system are needed.

Hannah Gin – Runner up

Hannah Gin, Runner up of SLA Student Awards Undergraduate category

My dissertation set out to investigate the spatio-temporal relationship between deprivation and knife crime in London. Knife crime reached worrying highs in 2019 which brought devastating impacts on communities, however, there is still very limited research on the topic. In particular, there is almost no local analysis specific to London, despite reports such as the London Knife Crime Strategy recognising a need to target funding to specific geographical areas.

To contribute to this gap, I investigated the relationship of the Indices of Deprivation and knife offence counts in Lower Super Output Areas across London, and how this changes over time. I used a Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) model to further analyse how this relationship varies across small local areas in London.

My results confirmed that in most cases greater deprivation was associated with greater knife crime. However, the GWR also revealed that the relationship between the deprivation and knife crime varies across space and over time. In the most extreme cases, the association differed from positive to negative across different local areas. This indicates the importance of tailoring crime reduction strategies to the unique local context of small areas as the relationship is not consistent throughout London. It also showed the need to continually re-evaluate policies due to the dynamic relationship between deprivation and knife crime over time.

Masters Winners

Congratulations to our three winners. We have such a hard time judging this category that we awarded two runners up because they were just all so good and we couldn’t pick between then.

  • 1st Place – Aimee Thomason, Postgraduate Student in GIS, Leeds University
  • Runner Up – Catherine Duffy, Data Analyst, Geolytix

More about our winners…

Aimee Thomason – Winner

Aimee Thomason - Winner of the SLA student Awards Undergrad

Biography: I recently graduated from the University of Leeds with an MSc in Geographical Information Systems. As a recent graduate, I am seeking a position where I can put many of the analytical and cartographic skills to use and begin a successful career in GIS.

Dissertation summary: My dissertation focused on digital inequalities, which has been explored across three digital divides, referring to inequalities in access (first level), skills and uses (second level) and outcomes of the internet and digital technologies (third level). How these work in practice and over space, however, have rarely been explored. My dissertation, therefore, sought to present a replicable and transparent framework for the development of a geodemographic classification of digital capabilities to determine areas least capable of effectively engaging with the internet. This was evidenced on England where all three digital divides are prevalent and non-egalitarian.

Analysis of the cluster profiles, alongside validation and enhancement through the 2018 Internet User Guide and Ground Truthing using Google Street View data, identified two clusters incapable of effectively engaging with the internet: ‘Vulnerable Individuals’ and ‘Disadvantaged Ethnic Minorities’. Conclusions identified that not only does this research address the gap in digital inequality research by encompassing and spatially analysing all three digital divides. But, the outcome provides both the public and private sectors to better support those most at risk of being left behind in an increasingly digital era. Given the expectedness of the 2021 Census data, the framework also provides a particularly important source for future research.

Catherine Duffy – Runner up

Catherine Duffy - Runner up of SLA Student Awards Masters

Biography: Catherine is a recent graduate of the University of Leeds, with a BA in Geography and a MSc in Data Science and Analytics. She is interested in the application of methods from quantitative geography and data science to problems in network planning and accessibility. Catherine now working for retail location planning consultancy, Geolytix.

Dissertation summary: This study represents an early investigation into the spatial distribution of vaccination sites in England and the resultant levels of accessibility experienced by the resident population. The overall aim is to analyse the accessibility of vaccination sites in England to its citizens and identify areas where accessibility may be inequitable, achieved through the implementation of traditional distance-based methods and two-step floating catchment area models (2SFCA). Distance-based analyses, conducted using travel time data from HERE Technologies’ Routing and Public Transit APIs, identified the main drivers of fast travel times to vaccination sites as use of a private vehicle and urbanity, with those using public transport or living in rural areas more likely to experience longer journeys to receive their vaccine. On the other hand, the 2SFCA analyses showed that urban vaccination sites could be considered less accessible as they are under higher pressure from their large local populations, leading to lower vaccine-to-population ratios. It is concluded that the appropriateness of 2SFCA methods to studying the accessibility of vaccination centres can only be full evaluated when further data on the topic becomes available.