Been back to building a set of maps for a new project.  And two of my recommended tools are:

Google MyMaps (powerful but with an annoying limit of 10 layers which means me needing to split maps unnecessarily)
and the excellent tool from MySociety (open sourced society!) called MapIT. A great source of UK map data – especially KML versions of authority boundaries which was what I was after!

If you’re mapping, take a look at these tools.


Community Mapping

I’ve just met up with my first two Community Mapping volunteers. We’ve had our first ‘workshop’ discussion around OpenStreetMap and what I’m aiming to achieve, so the project has moved from an idea in my head to reality. Looking forward now to seeing what we can achieve.

Maps are powerful sources of knowledge and OpenStreetMap is a tool that has the possibility to empower people across the world by ensuring that everyone has a chance to contribute to the map for the good of all. Watching people help map slums across the world (see Map Kibera) or help in disaster areas using OpenStreetMap is a very powerful lesson. (The Missing Maps project has a strong story to tell.)

When I look across North East Lincolnshire, the map data available in OSM is pretty poor. This contrasts with Cambridge, which apparently was one of the first ‘fully mapped’ cities in the UK and the map data there is huge (and useful). So the aim is to get a large cohort of local, knowledgeable volunteers to do as much or as little as they want to in order to help us improve our local mapping.

If the map is better, then the knowledge within it for local services, charities, community groups and so on is drastically improved.

We’ve got our first two volunteers and I’m hoping for many more over the months to come and we’ll see what part we can all play in building this map knowledgebase.

Getting hands-on with Open Street Map

Rather pleased with myself today. Signed up with OpenStreetMap (OSM) and got editing. Did my very first edits as part of the global map creating fraternity and managed to delete the outlines of four buildings in my village that have been long demolished. My tiny, local corner of OSM is now that little bit more up to date due to my efforts.Not a hard process but useful (and, dare I say it, fun and empowering!).

Got awoken to the power of OSM over time through stories of slums across the world that have benefitted from crowdsourced efforts to map their street details. A powerful way to get a large task done quicker through volumes of people. Also a way to get people really involved in their communities. And, of course, the resulting map is valuable to everyone – individuals, service providers, support providers and so forth.

If everyone was continually updating their local part of the global map, then perhaps we could avoid those horrible ambulance delays where GPS data is out of date, doesn’t show newly built housing and has a consequential risk to life.

Here’s to crowd mapping!

And on that note I’m today starting a campaign to actively build up a taskforce of local OSM volunteer community mapmakers for North East Lincolnshire. We’ve got a whole lot of detail missing from our local OSM and I’d like to see that ‘filled’ for the overall, long term good of our communities. 

Watch this space (or map?).