Bell Edwards Geographic Data Institute

Spatial data holds the key to unlocking a deeper understanding of our planet and its intricate systems. Let's BEGIN a spatial and data-driven conversation and be part of a multidisciplinary group in St Andrews.

Activities Research


The Bell Edwards Geographic Data Institute (BEGIN) is a network of data researchers in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development (SGSD) at the University of St Andrews. The institute brings together academic staff, postdoctoral researchers, and PhD students who work with geographic data and are interested in developing new methods and modeling approaches for geographic problems. The network also provides a platform to promote collaboration, teaching, and outreach.

The unprecedented recent developments in geographic data capture technologies, such as tracking and remote sensing, have become ubiquitous and require specific new methodological approaches. The BEGIN Institute was set up in 2018 to address this challenge. It brings together SGSD researchers who work in a number of diverse disciplines, including geographic information science (GIS), remote sensing, glaciology, and palaeoecology. The aim is to identify similarities and forge connections between these disciplines to support the strategic goal of the SGSD, which is to integrate the study of the Earth’s systems with its landscapes, peoples, places, and environments.

We aim to achieve this goal through joint research, PGT teaching, and organisation of various activities, such as academic seminars where we will host internationally known researchers who develop new methods for geographic data. We will further organise outreach events, such as join the worldwide annual GISDay in mid-November, when external GIS professionals come to SGSD to present their work to students and researchers. We will also provide training in GIS and geographic data analysis in collaboration with CAPOD. The institute will further offer a cartographic design service provided by the SGSD Cartographer.

Our activities will be advertised on this website, so check in regularly for updates. Or follow us on Twitter for news.

The institute is named in honour of the father of Tony Edwards, William Bell Edwards (1906-1989), who was an engineer and a surveyor. Tony Edwards is an alumnus and long-time friend of the School of Geography and Sustainable Development. He is the main supporter of this initiative.

BEGIN is a member of the Association of Geographic Information Laboratories in Europe (AGILE).