Dr Jonathan Cinnamon
Lecturer in Human Geography


Research interests

Jonathan’s two main intellectual fields are human geography and geographic information science, which are seeing an increasing convergence and cross-pollination of theory and practice, notably through recent developments in visual methods and digital geographies. His interests are informed by and contribute to a range of theoretical and empirical domains, from social models of health and science and technology studies (STS), to critical GIS and participatory geographies. Methodologically, his empirical work uses GIS and spatial methods, as well as qualitative approaches.

Within geographic information science and the emerging area of digital geographies, Jonathan is interested in developments around user-friendly mapping and analysis platforms produced by and for the public.  Also, he is interested in the emerging landscape of data production and analytics in which heterogenous actors including governments, corporations, citizens, and community groups now produce and use digital data in diverse ways. His interest in this area lies in thinking about the opportunities these new sources of data might conceive for understanding the world, especially in 'data poor' settings, but also the potential for widening digital inequalities in the age of digital technology and big data. More generally, this research is conceptually underpinned by an interest in the complex and dynamic sociotechnical relations that exist between geospatial technologies and people.

Within human geography, his work has broadly focused on social vulnerabilities in urban environments. His research seeks to understand how processes of social vulnerability are mediated and shaped by urban environments. Focusing in particular on health-related vulnerabilities, a common topic throughout his research career is a focus on injury risk and community safety, one of the world’s most significant and challenging health issues. The aim of this programme of research is to enable low-resource settings and community groups to understand local injury and safety contexts. In his PhD project he developed geospatial Web mapping and crowdsourcing platforms for a hospital in Cape Town and he collaborated with a community organization on a research project about pedestrian safety, which resulted in policy change related to safety infrastructure and traffic calming in Vancouver. Due to the success of this collaboration, he has formed an interest in exploring the ways that geographic data and knowledges are produced and the circumstances by which they are legitimized and circulated in society.

Recent Projects and Funding:

2016-17:  Do Nightlights Emissions Enlighten? Exploring the Effect of Local Economic Conditions on Violence Against Civilians During Civil War. UK Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council. £62,000, Co-Investigator (with Nils-Christian Bormann and Stacey Hynd). 

  • In this interdisciplinary mixed-methods project we are exploring the link between economic development and civil conflict in Uganda. In the absence of economic data in this setting, we are using a novel high spatial resolution satellite dataset consisting of night light emissions to develop a proxy model of economic activity, which  will be followed up by qualitative research to gather in depth perspectives on the development–conflict relationship in this setting. The expected outcomes of the project are twofold. First, the project will provide valuable knowledge about this relationship in a country significantly affected by civil conflict historically and in the present. Secondly, a core aim of the project is to validate the methodological approach, which could then be applied to understand the relationship between economic development and a variety of social issues at micro scales.
  • Project website: http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/do-nightlights-emissions-enlighten/

2016-17: Building Digital Identities: A Scoping Study. University of Exeter ESRC Impact Acceleration Fund. £3,000, Co-Investigator (with Ana Beduschi and Chunbo Luo). 

  • This project is exploring how digital personal location and behavioural data might be used in the production of personal identification documents. This project responds to target 16.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to provide legal identity to all by 2030. Legal identity is something that millions worldwide go without, which limits citizenship rights amongst other challenges. This initial scoping project will map out the potential for digital identification systems to be constructed with new forms of personal data produced through daily transactions, interactions, and movements.
  • Project website: https://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/law/research/projects/project/?id=566

2015: A Framework For Using Mobile Phone Data For Disease Disaster Response. UK Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development. £2,500, Principal Investigator (with Co-Investigators Neil Adger and Sarah Jones). 

  • This scoping project developed an initial framework to guide researchers and humanitarian organizations in the ethical, responsible and practical uses of data produced through mobile phones, including call detail records (CDRs) and data produced actively through two-way SMS communications. Focusing specifically on their use during disease-related emergencies and outbreaks, the results of this study identified the potential value in CDR data for understanding and managing population movements during infectious disease outbreaks, and how SMS based crowdsourcing could rapidly produce time sensitive data on resource needs and patient cases, and could be used for patient monitoring and triage. 
  • The article published from this project was published in Geoforum, and was the recipient of the Elsevier Atlas Award for articles with the potential for significant social impact: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718516301981

2014-2015: Assessment of Access to Trauma Center Care in Ohio Using Geographic Information Systems. Ohio Department of Public Safety. $50,000. Co-Investigator (with Daniel Sui and Huiyun Xiang). 

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