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Royal Statistical Society
Edinburgh Local Group

Welcome to the webpages of the Edinburgh local group of the Royal Statistical Society. We arrange an annual programme of talks and workshops intended to appeal to anyone with an interest in statistics. All of our events are free, and are open both to members of the RSS and to non-members. We typically organise 6-8 events per year, which are usually held on a Tuesday evening. Refreshments are available beforehand, and events are usually followed by a trip to either a pub or a restaurant.

Forthcoming Events

Tuesday 30 Jan 2018, The power of policy - the role of statistics in designing studies to monitor the effectiveness of environmental policies

Venue: ICMS
Address: 15 South College Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
Tea & coffee: 17:30
Talk: 17:45-19:15.

1. Lindesay Scott-Hayward, University of St. Andrews
Detecting Change: Development of a new tool for spatially explicit power analysis.

2. Jon Barry, CEFAS
Marine Monitoring: Power precision and policy.

3. Peter Henrys, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Designing a rolling, national survey for monitoring the effects of an agri-environment scheme.


1. Lindesay Scott-Hayward
New construction developments may impact animals and birds which use the development site; for example, with an offshore windfarm marine mammals and seabirds may move away from the site entirely or redistribute themselves within the site. The challenge is to determine if any changes in abundance and distribution are due to a development (either directly or indirectly) or if these changes would have occurred anyway in the absence of any development. Historically, power analyses have been done very simply, often only establishing the power to detect changes in overall numbers rather than spatially explicit changes in distributions. To establish spatially explicit power, a simulation based approach was required and the key to this approach is in the generation of the simulated data. It needs to be realistic and satisfactorily resemble the observed data. Subsequent to the generation of data simulated for the power analysis can be undertaken. The method involves inducing changes to the generated baseline data; fitting model(s) to the new sets of post-change generated data and finally quantifying the power to detect change across the survey area) and sense-checking the results. I will present the methods for this approach and some spatially explicit power results using the Lincs offshore windfarm pre-construction data as a case-study.

2. Jon Barry
There are a plethora of indicators and monitoring assessments in the marine world. These range from beach and seafloor litter to contaminants, algae blooms and Marine Protected Areas. The talk describes some optimal strategies for monitoring and tries to link these to public and political policies - not always an easy task! I also describe some emerging new monitoring tools - such as satellites - and how these might be useful as monitoring is overhauled because of policy drivers such as austerity, Brexit and a drive for 'integrated monitoring'.

3. Peter Henrys Typically, assessments of agri-environment schemes have focussed on experimental studies that can expose potential effects, but are not necessarily representative in the context of a national scheme. Here, I describe an integrated full ecosystem monitoring programme across Wales designed to be nationally representative whilst able to capture changes and effects of specific agi-environment options. The rolling survey and integrated aspect meant that power to detect change varied considerably across environmental indicators. It was therefore important think about how to estimate the power of the survey under different assumptions in a quick and efficient manner. Our approach to this was a large simulation study, which enabled us to investigate power under a range of scenarios and also an ability to model power itself. I will present the development of this power model and how this has been used throughout the survey.

Presentations from Recent Events

Event in 2017:

"New Mobility Perspectives in the era of Wearable Sensors" Tuesday 3 Oct 2017

Dr. Katarzyna Sila-Nowicka (University of Glasgow) (.pdf file)\

"Modelling Exposure to Air Pollution at Population scale - challenges in accounting for spatio-temporal variability" Tuesday 16 May 2017

Dr. Stefan Reis (NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) (.pdf file)

"The 2021 Census: what is happening north and south of the border?" Tuesday 28 March 2017

Amy Wilson (Census Director, Scotland Census 2021) and Garnett Compton (Head of Census Statistical Design and Outputs, Census 2021) (.pdf file)

"Statistics and Commercial Housing" Tuesday 14 Feb 2017

Dr. Raffaella Calabrese (University of Edinburgh Business School) "A mortgage scoring model with spatial contagion" (.pdf file)
Vijay Krishnaswamy (True North Partners LLP) "True North Partners LLP, a specialist consulting boutique" (.pptx file)

Event in 2016:

"Protecting confidentiality while making data available for research and policy analysis: current trends" Tuesday 15 Nov. 2016

Dr Christine O'Keefe (CSIRO) (.pdf file)

"Britain's Misleading Benefit Sanctions Statistics" Tuesday 11 Oct. 2016

Dr David Webster (Honorary Senior Research Fellow) (.pptx file)

"Dragon-Kings: extreme risk events, prediction and control" Thursday 22 September 2016

Prof. Didier Sornette (ETH Zurich, Department of Management, Technology, and Economics) (.pdf file)

"The 2013 Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS)" on Tuesday 12 April 2016

Sandra Robb (Information Services NHS National Services Scotland) (.pdf file)

"Using 'big data' to understand and predict ageing" on Tuesday 16th February 2016

Dr. Riccardo E. Marioni & Stuart J. Ritchie (Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, The University of Edinburgh) (.pdf file)

Event in 2015:

"A World Statistics Day --Sustainable Development Goals: the challenges facing the statistics community" on Tuesday 20 October 2015

Glenn Everett (Director of the Measuring National Well-being Programme at the ONS). (.pptx file)

Neil Jackson (Chief Statistician at the Department for International Development (DFID). (.pptx file)

Jenny Church (Chair of the RSS' International Development Working Group). (.pptx file)

"Statistical Issues in the Calculation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions" on Tuesday 29 September 2015

Martin McFie (Senior Assistant Statistician, Scottish Government). "An Overview of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Scotland." (.pptx file)

Prof. Ute Skiba (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology). "Improving the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory for the UK, Focussing on Soil Nitrous Oxide Emissions." (.pptx file)

Vera Eory (Scotland's Rural College). "That's the Assumption we've Made." (.pptx file)

"Looking to the Future of the Past: a New Era in the Analysis of Historical Census Data?" on Monday 1 June 2015

Dr. Eilidh Garrett - Department of History, University of Essex (.pptx file)

"What is driving changes in crime in Scotland?" on Tuesday 12 May 2015

Professor Susan McVie - School of Law, University of Edinburgh (.pdf file)

"Quantitative Approaches to Financial Risks" on Thursday 29 January 2015

Juthamon Sithipolvanichgul - Scoring Method of Enterprise Risk Management.
Dr Douglas McLean - Challenges in Asset and Liability Proxy Modelling in Insurance.

Event in 2014:

"Big Data from Two Perspectives" on Thursday 16 October 2014

Prof Mark Keane - (Big) Data Analytics: From Word Counts to Population Opinions. (.pdf file)
Prof Marian Scott - Are there New Challenges in Environmetrics Arising from "Big Data?"

"Perceptions of the Weight of Statistical Evidence among Scientists" on Monday 19 May 2014

Richard D. Morey (From personal website)

"The Early History of Bayesian Statistics" on Tuesday 15 April 2014

Tom Leonard (slides) (.pptx file)

"Scotland's Referendum: Statistical Perspectives" on Wednesday 26th March 2014

Jim Cuthbert (statistician) & Margaret Cuthbert (economist) - The medium is (very much) the message (.ppt file)
David Walsh (GCPH, Glasgow) - Scotland: health, its determinants, and the potential implications of independence (.pdf file)
Roger Halliday (Chief Statistician) - The production of official statistics (.pptx file)
John Curtice (Strathclyde University) - The performance of the polls (.pptx file)

"Census 2011: Results so far and innovative ways to access data " on Tuesday 25 February 2014

Sandy Taylor - Scotland's Census 2011 (.pdf file)
Justin Hayes - New and easier ways of working with aggregate data and geographies from UK censuses (.ppt file)

Event in 2013:

"Freeing the power of administrative data" on Tuesday 12 November 2013

Dr Stephen Pavis (slides) (.pptx file)

"Bayesian computing with INLA" on Thursday 19 Sept 2013

Dr Andrew Lawson (slides) (.pdf file)
Dr Janine Illian (slides) (.pdf file)

"Stories and Statistics: what can the Sally Clark case tell us about the psychology of evidential reasoning?" on Tuesday 11 June 2013

Slides (.ppt file)

"The mysterious case of the disappearing crime in Scotland" on Tuesday 30 April 2013

Prof Susan McVie: slides (.pdf file)

"Using statistics to study wildlife" on Monday 18 February 2013

Dr Ruth King: slides (.pdf file)
Dr Kate Searle: slides (.pptx file)

Event in 2012:

"Alcohol in Scotland: from evidence to action" on Tuesday 13 November 2012

Slides (.ppt file)

"Matching of administrative data to validate the 2011 Census in England and Wales" on Wednesday 31 October 2012

Slides (.pptx file)

Royal Statistical Society Interdisciplinary Debate on Tuesday 12 June 2012:
Randomized controlled trials in medical research - gold standard or unhealthy fixation?

Professor Nancy Cartwright: slides (.pptx file)
Professor Nancy Cartwright: talk (.docx file)
Professor Gillian Raab: talk (.docx file)
Professor Gillian Raab: notes (.docx file)

How much does statistical illiteracy cost? GetStats event on Tuesday 27th March 2012

David Walker: slides (.pptx file)

Local Group Committee

Committee for 2016 session

Past Meetings

Details of past meetings are available here:

Further information

If you would like to receive email notifications of events that are organised by the group then please contact Jiayi Liu and ask to be added to the mailing list. Announcements of meetings are also posted to the ALLSTAT mailing list two weeks prior to the meeting.  

This page is maintained by Jiayi Liu. Last updated April 2017.