• The UPTAKE study: implications for the future of COVID-19 vaccination trial recruitment in UK and beyond

      Sethi, Sonika; Kumar, Aditi; Mandal, Anandadeep; Shaikh, Mohammed; Hall, Claire A; Kirk, Jeremy MW; Moss, Paul; Brookes, Matthew J; Basu, Supratik (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-04-20)
      Background Developing a safe and effective vaccine will be the principal way of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, current COVID-19 vaccination trials are not adequately representing a diverse participant population in terms of age, ethnicity and comorbidities. Achieving the representative recruitment targets that are adequately powered to the study remains one of the greatest challenges in clinical trial management. To ensure accuracy and generalisability of the safety and efficacy conclusions generated by clinical trials, it is crucial to recruit patient cohorts as representative as possible of the future target population. Missing these targets can lead to reduced validity of the study results and can often slow down drug development leading to costly delays. Objective This study explores the key factors related to perceptions and participation in vaccination trials. Methods This study involved an anonymous cross-sectional online survey circulated across the UK. Statistical analysis was done in six phases. Multi-nominal logistic models examined demographic and geographic factors that may impact vaccine uptake. Results The survey had 4884 participants of which 9.44% were Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME). Overall, 2020 (41.4%) respondents were interested in participating in vaccine trials; 27.6% of the respondents were not interested and 31.1% were unsure. The most interested groups were male (OR = 1.29), graduates (OR = 1.28), the 40–49 and 50–59 age groups (OR = 1.88 and OR = 1.46 respectively) and those with no health issues (OR = 1.06). The least interested groups were BAME (OR = 0.43), those from villages and small towns (OR = 0.66 and 0.54 respectively) and those aged 70 and above (OR = 1.11). Conclusions In order to have a vaccination that is generalisable to the entire population, greater work needs to be done in engaging a diverse cohort of participants. Public health campaigns need to be targeted in improving trial recruitment rates for the elderly, BAME community and the less educated rural population.
    • Urban gully assessment in São Luis City (Maranhão State), Brazil, using penetrometer data and soil properties

      Guerra, Antonio J. T.; Sathler, R.; Mendes, S.P.; Silva, S.L.S.; Guerra, T.T.; Araujo, I.H.M.; Lima, F.S.; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A.; Mendonca, J.K.S.; et al. (International Association of Geomorphologists, 2006)
      This paper investigates soil erosion assessment in São Luis City, reporting an ongoing programme of field measurements (penetrometer measurements and gully monitoring), topsoil sampling and laboratory analyses. From the database, it is evident that the urban sector of São Luis is very prone to gully erosion, especially where land use promotes land degradation. This research work is part of the larger European Union Project ‘BORASSUS’, which investigates soil erosion assessment and rehabilitation in 10 different countries, including Brazil. In our case, we are the only country investigating urban gully erosion. Therefore, this paper presents some preliminary results, both in terms of penetrometer measurements and soil properties, and we make some initial conclusions regarding the four studied gullies, which are situated in São Luis City, Maranhão Island (2º19’9”- 2º51’S; 44º1’16”-44º19”37” W). In order to achieve the research objectives, we have carried out both field and laboratory work, so that penetrometer data could be related to laboratory data. On each one, we selected different parts, around each gully, to take three penetrometer measurements, to calculate the site mean. On completion, we calculated the mean for the whole gully, taking into account the mean for each site. We collected topsoil (0-10 cm) samples to determine selected soil properties in the laboratory (particle size distribution, particle density, bulk density and porosity), using EMBRAPA (1997) protocols. Although most penetrometer studies are related to agricultural situations, for this study we have used penetrometry to assist our understanding of gully evolution and behaviour. The whole study area shows a high sand content and low silt and clay contents; textures being sandy loams. In 60% of analysed soil samples, the silt content is higher than the clay content, confirming the higher detachability and transportability of fine sand and silt. Penetrometer measurements are related to soil compaction, due to people walking on tracks around the gullies. Those values showed direct association with parameters related to vegetation cover. We can conclude that this area presents high sensitivity to erosion, expressed by high bulk density values, high fine sand and silt contents, low clay content and low porosity.
    • Urban landscape ecology and its evaluation : a review

      Young, Christopher; Jarvis, Peter; Hooper, Ian; Trueman, Ian C. (New York : Nova Science, 2009)
      Urban landscapes exhibit combinations of environmental features that are rarely encountered in non-urban settings resulting in habitat types, habitat associations and vegetation communities not found elsewhere. As a result urban areas are often surprisingly diverse, containing much in the way of interest for landscape ecologists. The intricate mix of the seminatural and anthropogenic that urban areas provide has traditionally been overlooked in Landscape Ecology compared to non-urban and natural / semi-natural landscapes. Landscapescale studies that claim to be comprehensive rarely extend the necessary detail into the urban environment and when they do they use such large units of assessment that they obscure anything but the most obvious distinctions. Where work has been done it has largely focused on specific habitat types, such as open space or tree cover, rather than the whole spatial context of the urban environment. Increasingly important in applied landscape research are studies of small and transient patches of natural greenspace, biodiversity-rich islands and important constituents of the socio-cultural landscape alongside the intensively managed and remnant semi-natural parts of the wider urban environment. This ties in to the wider considerations of habitat fragmentation, landscape connectivity and integrated landscape management that is now vital in ensuring the continued existence of biodiversity in the urban area and beyond. As consultative requirements are passed on to many statutory bodies the necessity to have quality data at landscape scales but with significant and relevant localised detail is an area which is likely to significantly engage landscape ecologists in the foreseeable future
    • Urban Pollution and Stone Weathering in the Black Country

      Searle, David E.; Mitchell, David J. (Science Publishers Inc., 2003)
    • Urban small sites – landscape ecology and contribution to urban greenspace

      Williams, D.; Young, Christopher; Hooper, Ian; Jarvis, Peter (Edinburgh: IALE(UK), 2009)
      Urban areas are highly modified and complex landscapes, within which green spaces are seen as valuable for human well being as well as wildlife. Most studies evaluate the significance of the upper end of this spatial scale (>10ha), and ignore the smaller patches (<1ha). Despite this omission it is likely that small patches of greenspace constitute a significant absolute area and a dynamic and potentially useful green resource, the value of which has not been systematically assessed at either the landscape or the patch scale. Using a combination of OS Mastermap data and field visits, a GIS was generated of a transect line in urban Wolverhampton. The primary conclusion reached from this study was that small sites that are not audited for practical reasons can provide as much in terms of variety and quality as sites above recommended thresholds without detracting from meaningfulness or deliverability
    • Use of 'Limited Life Geotextiles' (LLGs) for Basal Reinforcement of Embankments Built on Soft Clay

      Sarsby, Robert W. (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007)
      Polymeric technical fabrics have long working lives and are sometimes used in practical situations where a geosynthetic is only needed to be fully functional for a relatively short period of time, e.g. a separator layer beneath a temporary access road. This article concerns the use of ‘Limited Life Geotextiles’ (LLGs), i.e. high specification geotextiles, which are designed on the basis of having a limited working life, as basal reinforcement for an embankment built on soft clay. A method is given for defining the allowable progressive loss of tensile strength of the foregoing basal LLG as a result of improvement of the shear strength of the foundation soil due to consolidation. It is shown that the derived relation between required reinforcement strength and consolidation time (the Time-Strength-Envelope) can be represented by a simple exponential equation. Vegetable fibres are natural candidates for use in the manufacture of LLGs since they are a renewable resource and their degradation with time is accounted for in the design of the LLG. Combinations of vegetable fibres growing in tropical regions which are capable of satisfying the Time-Strength-Envelopes for several embankment slopes are presented. (Elsevier)
    • Use of environmental DNA analysis to detect the presence of water vole

      Halford, Carl M; Jones, Karl J; Hill, David J; Schmerer, Wera Margarete (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, 2018-03)
      The UK water vole population has fallen dramatically in recent years. Accurate and reliable methods of detecting the presence or absence of water vole at specific locations are critical to conservation efforts. Traditional survey methods can, in some cases, be invasive, inaccurate or difficult to carry out. This study aimed to develop a novel method based on identification of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the presence of water vole via analysis of water samples. The results demonstrate that the technique offers an accurate method of detection. However, this study was based on a relatively small sample and certain limitations of the technique have been identified, which will be explored with further research. Nevertheless, used and interpreted correctly, the technique can provide reliable evidence of presence or absence.
    • Use of farmers' indicators to evaluate the sustainability of cropping systems on sloping land in Yunnan Province, China.

      Subedi, Madhu; Hocking, Trevor J.; Fullen, Michael A.; McCrea, Alison R.; Milne, E.; Wu, Bozhi; Mitchell, David J. (Elsevier, 2009)
      Diversity in the biophysical and socio-economic attributes of agricultural systems makes them uniquely niche based. Farmers are expert in local biophysical and socio-economic situations and can contribute in developing pragmatic indicators of agro-environmental development. During evaluation of an agricultural research project in Yunnan, China, local farmers were capable of evaluating the effects of modified technologies on existing cropping systems and discussed their attitudes to the interventions using their own indicators. Farmers' response can be grouped into seven major aspects: i) effects on income, ii) effects on production resources, iii) effects on crop management, iv) existing local knowledge about the technology, v) availability of inputs, vi) access to information, and vii) socio-economic conditions of farming households. Farmers concluded that environmental conditions in the experimental catchment in comparison to an adjacent untreated catchment were better in terms of soil and water losses, vegetation cover and natural resources, infrastructures and catchment management, use of environmentally-friendly technologies, and crop productivity. Success in soil and water conservation programmes depends on the efforts of the farmers and other local users and their greater involvement helps to identify more pragmatic indicators. Furthermore, it increases ownership of the programme, enhances interactions with the project scientists, increases farmers' awareness of agro-environmental problems and their possible consequences. These development will enable scientists to develop better targeted interventions and increase the likelihood of adoption of tested technologies by local communities. The use of paired adjacent catchments improved evaluation activities and is proposed as good practice for future catchment improvement programmes.
    • Use of limited hydrological data and mathematical parameters for catchment regionalization: a case study of the Osun Drainage Basin, Nigeria.

      Awokola, O. S.; Coker, Akinwale O.; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A. (Pan African Consulting UK, 2009)
      The trends of variations in daily stage and discharge of seven gauging stations located in the 9,900 km2 Osun Drainage Basin (South West Nigeria) were investigated. Linear regression models for all stations show the expected strong positive association of stage and discharge. The estimated daily changes explain only 1.44% of variations in stage, 0.25% variation in discharge and 99.5% in stagedischarge for station 5, 5.5% variation in stage, 0.7% variation in discharge and 99.7% in stagedischarge at station 25, and 10% variation in stage, 8.9% variation in discharge and 100% in stagedischarge at station 27. For the other studied stations, R2 estimated from daily stage and daily discharge give widely varying patterns. R2 estimated from daily stage and daily discharge is nonsignificant, but is significant for the daily stage-discharge relationship. The derived daily-stage and daily-discharge equations for the seven stations and their corresponding coefficients of determination can be used to classify the basin into three distinct zones. These are Zone I (coefficient of determination within the range of 0 to 6% for the daily-stage and daily-discharge), Zone II (coefficient of determination within the range of 7 to 10.5% for the daily-stage and daily-discharge), and Zone III (coefficient of determination within the range of 11 to 22% for the daily-stage and daily-discharge). The exponents of the stage-discharge equation can also be used for spatial classification. Zone A exponent is in the range of 1.3 to 1.7, Zone B exponent is in the range 2.2 to 2.3 and Zone C exponent is in the range 4.0 to 4.7. These can be combined to produce three hydrometric regions. It is proposed that this regionalization protocol could be used as an initial step in dividing complex catchment systems into more homogeneous subunits, to assist subsequent catchment management and planning. The hydrometric regionalization protocol is now being evaluated on the Osun and other drainage basins in Nigeria.
    • Use of mineral magnetic concentration data as a particle size proxy: a case study using marine, estuarine and fluvial sediments in the Carmarthen Bay area, South Wales, U.K.

      Booth, Colin A.; Walden, John; Neal, A.; Smith, J.P. (Elsevier, 2005)
      Compositional (non-magnetic) data can correlate strongly with particle size, which deems it appropriate as a particle size proxy and, therefore, a reliable means of normalising analytical data for particle size effects. Previous studies suggest magnetic concentration parameters represent an alternative means of normalising for these effects and, given the speed, low-cost and sensitivity of the measurements may, therefore, offer some advantages over other compositional signals. In this work, contemporary sediments from a range of depositional environments have been analysed with regard to their mineral magnetic concentration and textural characteristics, to observe if the strength and nature of the relationship identified in previous studies is universal. Our data shows magnetic parameters (chi(LF), chi(ARM) and SIRM) possess contrasting relationships with standard textural parameters for sediment samples collected from marine (Carmarthen Bay), estuarine (Gwendraeth Estuary) and fluvial (Rivers Gwendraeth Fach and Gwendraeth Fawr) settings. Magnetic concentrations of sediments from both the marine and estuarine environments are highly influenced by the magnetic contribution of finer particle sizes; Gwendraeth Fawr River sediments are influenced by the magnetic contribution of coarser particle sizes, while sediments from the Gwendraeth Fach River are not influenced significantly by any variations in textural properties. These results indicate mineral magnetic measurements have considerable potential as a particle size proxy for particular sedimentary environments, which in certain instances could be useful for geochemical, sediment transport, and sediment provenance studies. However, the data also highlight the importance of fully determining the nature of the relationship between sediment particle size and magnetic properties before applying mineral magnetic data as a particle size proxy.
    • Use of palm-mat geotextiles for rainsplash erosion control

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Fullen, Michael A.; Davies, Kathleen; Booth, Colin A. (Elsevier, 2010)
      Soil detachment by raindrop action (rainsplash erosion) is a very important subprocess of erosion by water. It is a particular problem in the UK as most soils are sandy or loamy sand in texture and lands have gentle to medium slope. However, few studies report potential rainsplash erosion control options under field conditions. Hence, the utilization of palm-mat geotextiles as a rainsplash erosion control technique was investigated at Hilton, east Shropshire, U.K. (52°33′5.7″ N, 2°19′18.3″ W). Geotextile-mats constructed from Borassus aethiopum (Borassus palm of West Africa) and Mauritia flexuosa (Buriti palm of South America) leaves are termed Borassus mats and Buriti mats, respectively. Two-year field experiments were conducted at Hilton to study the effects of emplacing Borassus and Buriti mats on rainsplash erosion of a loamy sand soil. Two sets (12 plots each) of experiments were established to study the effects of these mats on splash height and splash erosion. Splash height needs to be known to assess the transport mechanism of major soil fraction and its constituents on sloping land by rainsplash. In both sets, six randomly-selected plots were covered with mats, and the rest were bare. Results (during 22/01/2007 23/01/2009; total precipitation= 1731.5 mm) show that Borassus mat-covered plots had ∼89% (Pb0.001) less total splash erosion (2.97 kg m−2) than bare plots (27.02 kg m−2). Comparatively, mean splash height from Borassus matcovered plots (0.12 m) was significantly (Pb0.001) less than the bare plots, by ∼54%. However, Buriti matcover on bare plots had no significant (PN0.05) effect in rainsplash erosion control during that period, although plots with Buriti mats significantly (Pb0.05) decreased splash height (by ∼18%) compared with bare plots (0.26 m). Buriti mats, probably due to their ∼43, 62 and 50% lower cover percentage (44%), mass per unit area (413 g−2) and thickness (10 mm), respectively, compared with Borassus mats, were not effective in rainsplash erosion control. Both mats did not significantly (PN0.05) improve selected soil properties (i.e., soil organic matter, particle size distribution, aggregate stability and total soil carbon) as soil organic matter (SOM) input from mat-decomposition was much less than total SOM content. However, the changes in fine and medium sand contents (after 2 years) in the Borassus covered plots were significantly (Pb0.05; n=6) related to the total rainsplash erosion during 2007 2009. Emplacement of Borassus and Buriti mats on bare soils did not decrease SOM contents after 2 years, indicating that improvements in some soil properties might occur over longer durations. After ∼10 months, Buriti mats lost ∼70% of their initial weight (Pb0.001) and their initial cover percentage (C, %) decreased drastically (Pb0.05); whereas, Borassus mats maintained similar C to the initial condition, although mass per unit area decreased by ∼20% (Pb0.05). Moreover, the functional longevity of Borassus mats was ∼2 years against only 1 year for Buriti mats. Hence, use of Borassus mats is highly effective for rainsplash erosion control in the UK.
    • Use of palm-mat geotextiles for soil conservation: I. Effects on soil properties

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A.; Smets, T.; Poesen, Jean; Black, A. (Elsevier, 2011)
      Despite geotextile-mats having the potential for soil conservation, field studies on the effects of geotextiles on soil properties are limited. Hence, the utilization of palm-mat geotextiles as a potential soil conservation technique was investigated at Hilton, east Shropshire, U.K. (52°33′5.7″ N, 2°19′18.3″ W). Geotextile-mats constructed from Borassus aethiopum (Borassus palm of West Africa) and Mauritia flexuosa (Buriti palm of South America) leaves are termed Borassus mats and Buriti mats, respectively. Field experiments were conducted at Hilton during 2007–2009, to study the impacts of Borassus and Buriti mats on selected properties of the topsoil (0–5 cm). Ten fixed plots (10×1 m on a 15° slope) were established, with duplicate treatments. The treatments were: (i) bare soil; (ii) permanent grassed; (iii) bare soil with 1 m Borassus-mat buffer strips (area coverage ~10%) at the lower end of the plots; (iv) bare soil with 1 mBuriti mat buffer strips (area coverage ~10%) at the lower end of the plots; and (v) completely-covered with Borassus mats. Initial and final soil samples of the topsoil were collected and analysed for bulk density, aggregate stability, soil organic matter (SOM), total soil C (TSC), total soil N (TSN) and pH. Results indicate that, apart from Borassus completely-covered plots, soil bulk density increased and aggregate stability decreased in all plots after two years. Despite decreases in SOM contents in bare plots, SOM content did not change after two years in the grassed and geotextile treated plots. Treatments had no effects on changes in pH, TSC or TSN. Both Borassus and Buriti mat-covers within the buffer strip plots had little impact on SOM, TSC and TSN changes compared with bare soils within the same plots. Thus, Borassus buffer strip plots were very effective in maintaining some soil properties (i.e. SOM, TSC, and TSN) after two years of erosion by water. In summary, utilization of Borassus mats as buffer strips was very successful in conserving soil properties on a loamy sand soil.
    • User-centred design for collaborative 4D modelling

      Zhou, W; Heesom, D; Georgakis, P; Tah, JHM (Emerald, 2014-09-30)
      Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to clarify the CSCW in collaborative 4D modelling and its user interface (UI)/interaction designs for prototyping. Four-dimensional (4D) modelling technology has potentials to integrate geographically dispersed planners to achieve collaborative construction planning. However, applying this technology in teamwork remains a challenge in computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW).Design/methodology/approach - The research adopted user-centred design (UCD) methodology to investigate a usable 4D collaboration prototype through analysis, design and usability testing. By applying CSCW theories, it first clarified the meaning of 4D CSCW to formulate design propositions as design target. By leveraging UCD theories, subsequently, the first-stage research sought an optimal standalone 4D modelling prototype following a parallel design approach. At the second stage, it further investigated into a collaborative 4D modelling prototype using an iterative design. It adopted collaborative task analysis into the UI/interaction design extension for a collaborative prototype based on results obtained from the first stage. The final usability testing was performed on the collaborative prototype to evaluate the designed CSCW and UI in a controlled geographically dispersed teamwork situation.Findings - The test results and user feedback verified their usability. It also disclosed design weaknesses in collaborators' awareness and smooth tasks' transitions for further enhancement.Originality/value - The combination of CSCW and UCD theories is practical for designing collaborative 4D modelling. It can also benefit designs for collaborative modelling in other dimensions like cost analysis, sustainable design, facility management, etc. in building information modelling.
    • Using Energy Interventions to Drive Down Energy Consumption

      Hampton, Paul; Perez, Pablo A; Stuart, Robert; Young, Neil (Conference on Construction in the 21st Century (CITC- Committee), 2017-03-05)
      The reduction of carbon emissions to the atmosphere is widely accepted as a measure to mitigate one of the greatest challenges facing the world, global warming. One of the major contributors identified as contributing to this phenomenon is the domestic market. The domestic buildings are considered to play a significant role as they represent 30 percent of the UK’s energy use and produce 15 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions. As part of a UK intervention, studies have suggested behavioural change among housing occupants could be one of the key measures in the drive to reduce the use of energy. This is also expected to decrease the levels of fuel poverty. The aim of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of the energy advice programme delivered by a UK housing association: Wolverhampton Homes, to tenants interested in energy saving and thereby reducing their fuel expenditure. The methodology incorporated a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews to three different householder groups: a control non-assisted group, a regularly assisted group and the last group supported by energy saving monitoring devices. It was determined that occupants receiving assistance are more likely to realign their behaviour and reduce energy usage within their property if presented with clear a non-technical guidance. Furthermore, the use of monitoring devices as an easy way to visualise energy consumption aided the programme in enhancing the engagement of the tenants in energy saving behaviour patterns. The findings confirm a positive approach that UK local authorities and Housing Associations can adopt in order to reduce energy consumption through influencing occupants behavioural change, promoting energy saving within domestic properties and reducing fuel expenditure.
    • Using palm-mat geotextiles for soil conservation: II. Effects on in situ soil particle size distribution and nutrient concentration

      Bhattacharyya, R.; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, C.A.; Black, A.W.; Townrow, D. (Elsevier, 2013)
      Although geotextile mats have considerable potential for soil conservation, field studies on their impacts on soil particle size distribution and nutrient conservation are scant. Hence, field experiments were conducted at Hilton, east Shropshire, U.K. (52°33′5.7″N, 2°19′18.3″W) during 2007–2009, to study the impacts of palm-mat geotextiles on topsoil (0–5 cm) particle size distribution and changes in selected nutrients (total P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Zn, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Cl). Geotextile-mats constructed from Borassus aethiopum (Borassus palm of West Africa) and Mauritia flexuosa (Buriti palm of South America) leaves are termed Borassus mats and Buriti mats, respectively. Ten runoff plots (10×1 m on a 15° slope) were established, with duplicate treatments. The treatments were: (i) bare soil; (ii) permanent grass; (iii) bare soil with 1 m Borassus-mat buffer zones (area coverage ~10%) at the lower end of the plots; (iv) bare soil with 1 m Buriti-mat buffer zones (area coverage ~10%) at the lower end of the plots; and (v) completely-covered with Borassus mats. Initial and final topsoil samples were collected and analysed for sand (fine, medium and coarse), silt (fine, medium and coarse), clay and selected nutrients. Results revealed that soil silt and clay contents significantly (Pb0.05) decreased in the Borassus completely-covered plots with a concomitant increase in proportion of sand content after ~2 years. Both Borassus and Buriti buffer strip plots also had lower soil clay contents, indicating that palm-mat geotextile cover significantly affected particle size distribution, even after only 2 years. Buriti mat-cover within the buffer strip plots resulted in notably higher decrease in mean (n=2) clay content, with a concomitant increase in mean (n=2) sand contents compared with mean (n=18) clay and sand contents of bare soils within the same plots. Data indicate that total P and total K contents with Borassus completely-covered plots significantly (Pb0.01) increased and total Ca content decreased after ~2 years. However, except grassed plots, all plots had significant (Pb0.05) increases in total P concentrations. Borassus buffer strip plots also had significant (Pb0.05) decreases in total Ca contents over the initial contents. The increases in total P and K contents within Borassus complete-cover plots were significantly (Pb0.05) higher than both grassed and Buriti buffer strip plots. Borassus buffer strip plots significantly (Pb0.05) decreased total Ca content compared to bare and grassed plots. Treatments had no significant (P>0.05) effects on changes in other selected nutrients (total Mg, S, Zn, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Cl) concentrations. In summary, it is evident that despite significant (Pb0.05) decreases in soil clay and total Ca contents, use of Borassus mats as buffer strips was very successful in conserving or improving other selected soil properties.
    • Using palm-mat geotextiles on an arable soil for water erosion control in the UK

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A. (Wiley, 2011)
      To date, most studies of the effectiveness of geotextiles on soil erosion rates and processes have been conducted in laboratory experiments for less than 1 h. Hence, at Hilton (52°33′ N, 2°19′ W), UK, the effectiveness of employing palm-mat geotextiles for soil erosion control under field conditions on arable loamy sands was investigated. Geotextile-mats constructed from Borassus aethiopum (Borassus palm ofWest Africa) and Mauritia flexuosa (Buriti palm of South America) leaves are termed Borassus mats and Buriti mats, respectively. Duplicate runoff plots (10 m ¥ 1 m on a 15° slope) had five treatments (bare, permanent grass, Borassus total plot cover, Borassus buffer strip and Buriti buffer strip). Borassus covered plots had about 72% ground cover and to differentiate between this treatment and Borassus buffer strips, the former treatment is termed Borassus completely-covered. Runoff and eroded soil were collected from each bounded plot in a concrete gutter, leading to a receptacle. Results from 08/01/2007 – 23/01/2009 (total precipitation = 1776·5 mm; n = 53 time intervals) show that using Borassus buffer strips (area coverage ~10%) on bare soil decreased runoff volume by about 71% (P > 0·05) and soil erosion by 92% (P < 0·001). Bare plots had nearly 29·1 L m-2 runoff and 2·36 kg m-2 soil erosion during that period. Borassus buffer strip, Buriti buffer strip and Borassus completely-covered plots had similar effects in decreasing runoff volume and soil erosion. Runoff volumes largely explain the variability in soil erosion rates. Although buffer strips of Borassus mats were as effective as whole plot cover of the same mats, the longevity of Borassus mats was nearly twice that of Buriti mats. Thus, use of Borassus mats as buffer strips on bare plots is highly effective for soil erosion control. The mechanisms explaining the effectiveness of buffer strips require further studies under varied pedo-climatic conditions.
    • Using value iteration to solve sequential decision problems in games

      Hartley, Thomas; Mehdi, Qasim; Gough, Norman (University of Wolverhampton, School of Computing and Information Technology, 2004)
      Solving sequential decision problems in computer games, such as non-player character (NPC) navigation, can be quite a complex task. Current games tend to rely on scripts and finite state machines (FSM) to control AI opponents. These approaches however have shortcomings; as a result academic AI techniques may be a more desirable solution to solve these types of problems. This paper describes the process of applying the value iteration algorithm to an AI engine, which can be applied to a computer game. We also introduce a new stopping criterion called game value iteration, which has been designed for use in 2D real time computer games and we discuss results from experiments conducted on the AI engine. We also outline our conclusions which state that the value iteration and the newly introduced game value iteration algorithms can be successfully applied to intelligent NPC behaviour in computer games; however there are certain problems, such as execution speed, which need to be addressed when dealing with real time games.
    • Utilisation of smart devices in the construction industry: An empirical study in the Dominican Republic

      Silverio-Fernández, Manuel; Renukappa, Suresh; Suresh, Subashini (IGI Global, 2018-08-31)
      On a global scale, the construction sector is considered to have a high degree of decentralised information. In the Dominican Republic, the construction industry represents the most significant economic activity in the country. Smart devices and the Internet of Things create an opportunity to enhance the exchange of information in the construction sector. This article reports on the empirical findings of an investigation focused on the implementation of smart devices in the AEC sector. Findings address the status of digitalisation in the construction sector of the construction industry as well as main utilisations of smart devices. The findings are based on semi-structured interviews with fifteen professionals from nine construction organisations. The article concludes that smart devices increase efficiency in the construction industry of Dominican Republic by adding mobility, ubiquitous data access, and digitalisation of paperwork.
    • Utilising biological geotextiles: Introduction to the BORASSUS project and global perspectives

      Fullen, Michael A.; Subedi, M.; Booth, C. A.; Sarsby, R. W.; Davies, K.; Bhattacharyya, R.; Kugan, R.; Luckhurst, D. A.; Chan, K.; Black, A. W.; et al. (Wiley, 2011-09)
      Field and laboratory studies indicate that utilisation of biological geotextiles constructed from palm-leaves and other selected organic materials are an effective, sustainable and economically viable soil conservation technique. The three-year plus (1 July 2005–28 February 2009) EU-funded BORASSUS Project (contract no. INCO-CT-2005-510745) evaluated the long-term effectiveness of biological geotextiles in controlling soil erosion and assessing their sustainability and economic viability. These studies progressed in ten countries, both in the ‘industrial north’ (in Europe) and in the ‘developing south’ (Africa, South America and South East Asia). The studied countries in the ‘developing south’ included Brazil, China, The Gambia, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam. The ‘industrial north’ countries included Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania and the UK. The main findings of these studies are summarised in this paper and thematic information is presented in the other four papers in this Special Issue. Biological geotextiles offer potentially novel bioengineering solutions to environmental problems, including technologies for soil conservation, sustainable plant production and use of indigenous plants, improved ecosystem management by decreasing deforestation, improving agroforestry and cost-effective biogeotextile applications in diverse environments. Biogeotextiles may provide socio-economic platforms for sustainable development and the benefits for developing countries may include poverty alleviation, engagement of local people as stakeholders, employment for disadvantaged groups, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, earning hard currency, environmental education and local community involvement in land reclamation and environmental education programmes. These benefits are achieved through: (i) promotion of sustainable and environmentally friendly palm-agriculture to discourage deforestation, promoting both reforestation and agroforestry; (ii) construction of biogeotextiles enabling development of a rural labour-intensive industry, particularly encouraging employment of socially disadvantaged groups and (iii) export of biogeotextiles to industrialised countries could earn hard currency for developing economies, based on the principles of fair trade. Research and development activities of the BORASSUS Project have improved our knowledge on the effect of biogeotextile mats on the micro- and macro-soil environments and at larger scales through controlled laboratory and field experiments in diverse environments.
    • Utilization of Palm-mat Geotextiles to Conserve Agricultural Soils.

      Bhattacharyya, Ranjan; Davies, Kathleen; Fullen, Michael A.; Booth, Colin A. (International Erosion Control Association (IECA), 2009)
      Previously, most studies on the effectiveness of geotextiles on soil erosion rates and processes were conducted in laboratory experiments for <1 h. Hence, at Hilton (52o33' N, 2o19' W), East Shropshire, UK, we investigated the effectiveness of employing palm-mat geotextiles (Borassus and Buriti mats) to reduce rainsplash erosion, runoff and soil loss under field conditions. This study is a component of the European Union-funded BORASSUS Project. The effects of Borassus mats on rainsplash erosion were studied for ~2 years (2002-2004), and re-established in January 2007 on a 0o slope. There were 12 experimental plots (six plots completely-covered with mats and six bare plots; each measuring 1.0 x 1.0 m). Runoff-plot studies were also conducted on the loamy sand soil at Hilton for 2 years (2002-2004) with duplicate treatments: (i) bare soil; (ii) grassed, (iii) bare soil with 1 m Borassus-mat buffer zones at the lower end of the plots and (iv) completely-covered with Borassus-mats. Each plot was 10 x 1 m on a 15o (26.6%) slope. To confirm the results, another set of experiments have been in progress at Hilton since January 2007, with one additional treatment (bare soil with 1 m Buriti-mat buffer zones) compared with the earlier experiment. Runoff and soil erosion were collected from each plot in a concrete gutter, leading to a 0.02 m3 (20 liters) capacity receptacle placed inside a 0.14 m3 (140 liters) capacity container. Results (06/10/02-02/09/04; total precipitation = 1038.3 mm) showed Borassus mats on bare soil reduced total rainsplash erosion by ~50% compared with bare plots (9.64 kg m-2; 1.97 lb ft-2). The use of Borassus mats on bare soil (during 01/22/07-01/21/08; total precipitation = 919.2 mm) also reduced soil splash erosion by ~90%. During 03/25/02-05/10/04 (total precipitation = 1319.8 mm) complete cover of Borassus mats on bare soil reduced total runoff by ~19% and soil erosion by ~64%. Furthermore, Borassus mats as 1 m buffer strips on bare soil reduced runoff by ~36% and soil erosion by ~57%. During 01/08/07-01/14/08 (total precipitation = 923.4 mm), plots with Borassus and Buriti mats as buffer strips on bare soil reduced sediment yield by ~93 and 98%, respectively, and runoff by ~83 and 63%, respectively. Buffer strips of Borassus mats were also as effective as complete cover of the same mats. Thus, utilization of palm-mat geotextiles as buffer strips on bare plots (area coverage ~10%) is highly effective for soil and water conservation.