Meetings of Working Groups 9 and 10

15-17 May 2013 Working Group 9 – GIS and Working Group 10 – Extended IDS met for workshops in Lund, Sweden.

The workshops of Working Groups 9 and 10 took place at the Centre for Economic Demography (CED) at Lund University, Sweden.

Working Group 10
On 15 May, Working Group 10 met for a workshop. Eight participants from four different countries discussed the current state of affairs. George Alter presented a new way of structuring the information in the IDS. The basic idea was to standardise the information even further, thus limiting the number of tables. Luciana Quaranta then gave a presentation which first showed how to access the now publicly available Scanian Economic-Demographic Database (SEDD) and the information and files that are available on the database´s webpage; she then presented a programme written in STATA, which has the purpose of converting data extracted from the IDS tables into a rectangular episodes file that is ready for analysis. The presentations were followed by a discussion on at what level output should be provided for external users of the IDS databases, whether it should be IDS-tables, episode files or anything in between.

Working Group 9
For two days, May 16 to 17 2013, Working Group 9, on GIS, met for a workshop ‘Integrating time, space and individual life stories’ and 16 participants from 8 countries discussed this through presentations and vivid discussions. The main purpose of the workshop was to discuss, compare and develop methods and standards for storage, integration, analyses and visualization of data with multiple spatio-temporal representations. These methods are important for a wide range of applications within social science, geography and epidemiology, and are particular crucial to historical demography.
One of the main topics discussed was the problem of different representations of time for demographic and geographic data and the integration of these. In many cases, for the demographic data, we strive to have continuous data over the life courses of individuals. On the other hand, geographic data is mostly of ‘snapshot’ character derived from maps spread out over time. One suggestion to overcome this problem was to transform geographic data into continuous data. This would in many cases either imply the use of additional sources, or a structure built on intervals. In both cases, the separation of place and geography is of necessity. Following this, one surprising finding, to some of us, was that not only individuals but also houses could move! By integrating individuals and geography one can also introduce the effect of exposure. This means that at each point in time each individual is assigned to a specific location and the locations (and thus the individuals), in turn, are or are not exposed to certain time in-variant or time-variant factors.

Another main topic was the inclusion of geography and geo-referenced data into the Intermediate Data Structure (IDS). Different geographical data structures which included the handling of geography and places over time were presented and discussed. Standardization was considered crucial and one proposition was to store the geographic data in a spatially extended IDS-format, linking this to the regular IDS-tables.
Finally, the workshop also discussed questions concerning data collection, e.g. automatic collection of geography from texts and documents, and standards for visualizing demographic data in geography. In the final discussion the themes were put together into a scheme and the meeting agreed upon further collaboration allowing for a continuation in the work of standardizing, structuring, and integrating time, space and individual life stories.