COMPASS seminars 2008

Informing Health and Social Policy II

20 August 2008
The second annual colloquium for the group showcased the year’s advancements in the Primary Care in an Ageing Society (PCASo) project, including the data matching, simulation and modelling components. The day also saw the launch of two technical reports from the Family Whānau and Wellbeing Project (FWWP), Measuring changes in Family and Whānau Wellbeing using Census data, 1981–2006: A preliminary analysis and A Guide to using data from the New Zealand Census: 1981–2006. The latter found its way very quickly into Statistics New Zealand’s data laboratories around the country. Finally, COMPASS was introduced with its new centre status, and upcoming projects were discussed.

Simulating residential segregation: work in progress

Babak Mahdavi
10 October 2008
Babak gave a brief overview of his PhD research project, “Modelling residential segregation: An empirical and simulation-based study”. He has been using simulation modelling as an approach to understanding the dynamics of urban neighbourhood change, particularly in NZ/Auckland settings, and with census data usage as a potential means for verification of simulation.

He emphasised recent progress on various models, their potentials and limitations, along with an example of a preliminary analysis of generated output, to illustrate an exploration of analytical (and visual) options available. The prospect of using finer census data within the model was also discussed. Babak’s PhD is under the auspices of the School of Geography, the University of Auckland, and is sponsored by the Marsden Fund.

International issues around using Official Statistics data

Professor Alan Lee
24 October 2008
Alan spoke about current developments related to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK, particularly issues around confidentiality, privacy and data access – and their implications for New Zealand.

Lee powerpoint presentation
(452.5 kB, PDF)

Robotic Assistance for Aged Care

Dr Bruce MacDonald
31 October 2008
ETRI (South Korea) and the University of Auckland/UniServices have established a joint relationship to provide aged care by robots, initially proposing a long term joint Research Centre for robotics in healthcare of older people, at UoA. Seed funding has provided for a voice of the market analysis, and a legal analysis for this work in NZ.

A joint New Zealand/Korean R&D programme will be hosted in Auckland, bringing together researchers in engineering, computing, and health, and building on UoA expertise in robot programming, human-robot interaction, psychological and clinical evaluation, healthcare informatics, wireless propagation, and speech communication.

The proposed research will focus on customising the South Korean robotics platform for use in aged care and healthcare facilities. A number of New Zealand health IT companies and research providers will be involved in developing key robotic applications for aged care. The presentation will summarise the project plans and initial progress.

BeSTGrid: Enhanced Computational Capacity

Nick Jones
7 November 2008
Nick talked about his work and BeSTGrid, and what that has to offer researchers regarding enhanced access to computing capacity and capability.

Simulation models of patient flow in an intensive care unit

Dr Ilze Ziedins
28 November 2008
This talk described a simulation model of patient flow through the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Auckland City Hospital. The model has been used to determine the number of beds needed in the Unit. More recently, we have been using it to design staffing rosters. This is joint work with Will Chen, Ross Ihaka and staff at Auckland City Hospital, including Andrew McKee, Pam McCormack, Louise Watson and Steve Withy.

The work of the James Henare Māori Research Centre

Dr Te Tuhi Robust
5 December 2008
The time of blaming others, protesting and being oppressed is history for some. It is time to name ‘our world’ using the perspectives of conscientisation, transformation and resistance as key elements in planning for new direction and development for Aotearoa. The re-positioning of the James Henare Māori Research Centre is a direct response to the community by the university as an institution striving to develop appropriate forms of engagement with Māori society. In reflecting on this, what lessons have been learned in meeting the challenges of progress for Māori within New Zealand/Aotearoa?

Estimating ethnicities from names

Associate Professor David O’Sullivan
12 December 2008
David reported on progress made in extending a names-based method for ethnic-cultural classification to handle the names in the New Zealand electoral roll. This work is in collaboration with the University College London based World Names project, and seeks to apply methods developed in that project to a New Zealand context. Māori and Pacific Island names are rare in the UK setting where this work has been developed, so this project has presented some challenges which will be discussed. Nevertheless preliminary results looking at spatial patterns of Scottish names and also at Eastern European names in New Zealand show some promise. Explore the world distribution of surnames. (link to: