Today something is bothering me, it has been bubbling away since I wrote this post “The Awful mess of Local Plans online” and I can’t contain it anymore.
Cumbria as a geographic area I think has a lot of online maps and they all vary in quality and usability. Sometimes it looks like the people who are operating them haven’t told other departments what they are doing…. to be fair they probably have but red tape has got in the way…
Lets take Sedbergh (yes I used Google Maps!) for example, if I want to see what services my local authorities’ provide on a map I can go here for Cumbria CC services but if I want to see their Public Rights of Way mapping (and the two national parks), I have to go here. Now Cumbria also has a Historic Environment Record and their mapping is here (seriously slow & doesn’t always work).
Now here’s the fun bit, bins, building control and libraries are dealt with by South Lakeland DC . Ah, but if I want to see my local plan online rather than via PDF I have to go to the Yorkshire Dales online GIS here. Oh and if I forget what Local Authority I’m in Eden DC provide some mapping for part of Sedbergh too.
All these maps provide detailed OS Mastermap level mapping. Some are symbolised quite well, others not so well, I’ve always liked Barrow’s online GIS which South Lakeland seem to use, but that’s because it’s a bit technical and I hear open source [PDF]. I also worry when watermarks aren’t done well.
As a resident I shouldn’t have to check 5 different online maps to check out what’s happening in my area. I certainly shouldn’t have to learn how each one operates! (look I used bold and underline I must be serious)
I can’t help wondering why no one is trying to get a national government mapping organisation whereby everyone gets the same online mapping frontend/interface but is in charge of their own data. A bit like the Planning Portal but for publishing data not just receiving it. If people think this can’t be done, I think people working on the EU’s INSPIRE directive might say otherwise.
What I would like to see is web mapping become central not just an after thought to local and national government websites. Yes there is a place of localisation (depending on usage, tourism, history etc…). But a national web mapping site is needed so we can seamlessly browse geographically adjacent datasets. This would be great not just for residents but also policy makers, politicians and professionals. Imagine for example, seeing planning statistics and local plans for neighbouring authorities on one seamless map? Local councillors could see how neighbouring areas with similar demographics are doing. Think how easy consultation with neighbouring councils could be!
Enough of my musings, I’m off to make a map for a local authority in Iraq….
Update : the title was changed to remove the word fight as web mapping is not worth fighting about…
A little post on the dangers of relying on your favourite web mapping sites too much. I’ve just come from a nice holiday in the Highlands of Scotland and we were staying near a place called The Royal Burgh of Tain. As you can see Google Maps (my web mapping of choice) doesn’t have it…. Bing does though.
|Tain is only here according to Google|
|The town of Tain is here on Bing but not labelled on Google…. uh oh|
Okay why a post about some weird acronym type company? Well in the world of GIS (Geographic Information Systems/Science), ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) a software/consultancy company is a big player.
Yes they are a big corporate entity but in some ways they feel more like a movement, so when their yearly conference comes round I get excited. Not content with just advertising their products to their customers it feels as if you’re at an event for the GIS industry as a whole. Whatever issue you might have with ESRI’s software ArcGIS etc… you can’t fault the staff’s enthusiasm and professionalism (well that’s my experience anyway) especially at events like this.
Why the blog post this year? Well because I submitted a paper about using some software in our workflow called CityEngine and was asked to do a presentation on both days. You can find out more about ESRI here and ESRI UK here, I would also recommend some Wikipedia research on GIS.
You may have come to this post because I mentioned you somewhere, if you want to add something more (links, information etc…) or correct something contact me or add a comment to the relevant post.
- ESRI UK Conference – Day 1
- ESRI UK Conference - Day 2
- ESRI UK Conference - My Presentations
- ESRI UK Conference - People I met
- ESRI UK Conference - Thoughts for the Future, suggestions for ESRI UK
- Back in London – not really related to the conference more musings of visiting our nation’s capital.