About us

Automatic Knowledge Ltd was founded in 2019 by Alasdair Rae, previously a Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Based in the UK, we’re a versatile team of analysts with expertise in spatial data analysis, mapping, transport, land use, housing, planning and neighbourhoods. We’ve also worked with a range of media organisations on data-driven stories (including BBC News, see below). Our team works on projects for all types of organisations, including multinational companies (e.g. Google), governments, think tanks and universities. We work in all parts of the UK, as well as internationally.

Our philosophy is based on the idea of deriving simplicity from complexity, by doing the hard work of data processing, manipulation and presentation in order to arrive at insight and impact.

Alasdair being interviewed by the BBC’s Mark Easton

Why ‘automatic knowledge’?

The idea behind Automatic Knowledge is that we do the hard work of completing the journey from data to knowledge, so that clients can then make more informed decisions.

There is so much data out there today, but too little knowledge on what to do with it, how to analyse it and how it can help us. Put simply, moving from data to information and then knowledge can often feel like travelling along a very bumpy road. We aim to take the pain out of that journey!

Core Team

We’re a small team of dedicated geospatial and built environment professionals with a wide range of skills and experience. Here at Automatic Knowledge Ltd we have the capacity to take on all kinds of projects, from small pieces of analysis to large-scale research, as well as QGIS training for all skill levels.


Alasdair Rae


Alasdair founded Automatic Knowledge Ltd in 2019 and began working full time on the company in 2020. He was previously a Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. He blogs at statsmapsnpix.com.


Elvis Nyanzu

Senior Associate

Elvis is an experienced spatial data analyst with a PhD in urban studies from the University of Sheffield and an MSc in Real Estate Finance from the University of Aberdeen. He has worked on many high profile projects and has expertise in GIS, deprivation, neighbourhoods and inequality.


Philip Brown

Senior Associate

Philip has a wide range of experience in urban planning and the built environment, expertise on large projects, and a track record of delivery. Philip is also a highly experienced social media specialist and data creator. He has a BA and an MPlan from the University of Sheffield.