If you follow me on a social network you might have noticed me repeatedly jumping up and shouting look at me I’ve been on TV…. for this I apologise. I was interviewed as part of a piece BBC Sunday Politics Show was doing about Cumbria’s broadband somewhat stalled initiative. A local community group called Fibre GarDen was well represented, these guys I am pretty sure will be installing their own Fibre optic data network very soon. I am helping also them out with some mapping.
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….
Okay my first mapping using Mapbiquity, please be patient sometimes the mapping takes a couple of seconds to load….
|Listed Buildings Near Sedbergh|
The following datasets can be downloaded in zipped folders containing ESRI shapefile format files:
- Listed Buildings
- Scheduled Monuments
- Registered Parks and Gardens
- Registered Battlefields
- World Heritage Sites
- Protected Wreck Sites
Ignoring the ESRI centric nature of the data for the moment this is a surprising lot of data to release, being a map man though I’m very happy!
As you can see from the screen captures (above and below) I’ve managed to extract the dataset and make it into something usable in Google Earth as a KML file. Of course you can equally use ArcGIS Explorer.
I’ve used this point shapefile data, excel and my knowledge of Images of England website to create clickable points map that brings up the building listing and if available the photograph. It’s really using the Listed Buildings ID and combining it with a search term to link through to the appropriate page on Images of England.
|That’s a lot of listed buildings in Cumbria!|
|Great Asby Village hall and the attendees!|
“All of them, I think, were over 45. Bar Rory’s team, the guest speakers and a few ‘experts’ invited along, no one in the hall was under 45. Someone apparently said they were struggling to enthuse their local parish with the opportunities broadband would bring to the community, and that they had responded that if the older generation couldnt be enthused then maybe the under 20′s could be. The reply? There aren’t any, they’ve all left because there is no broadband.” Source : A Shiny World “#gab10″
- for me I had to leave early as it was bonfire night in Sedbergh at 7pm
- Saturday’s are difficult for many if you work all week a meeting in the middle of nowhere about computers isn’t that enticing…
- I got my invite via Twitter, how were other people identified? My guess is through Parish councils and local businesses? If it’s via community groups we know these are not attended well by working age younger people, just because we don’t have the time!
It was a great meeting and I was surprised at the number of attendees I just hope that expectations are not raised by the politicians and civil servants so much that even small successes are seen as disappointments.
I also hope those that attended are active within other areas to, for example planning and the provision of new affordable (by that I mean cheap not shared ownership) homes in villages as well as using local services such as the post office.
As important as fibre optic broadband is there are other things out there of equal or more importance. My advice/hope is that these extraordinary people who attended Great Asby on Saturday are not distracted by the flashy technology.
|First find Great Asby…|
- An inspirational two days in Eden by @johnpopham
- #gab10 by @loulouk
- Some Key Questions for the Designers of BDUK Rural Broadband Pilots by @RuralUK
The Westmorland Gazette ran today with a news piece about a project I’ve been working on at Garsdale Design Limited . It’s been a really interesting project and a wonderful to know that our work from a very small family firm in Cumbria can have the potential to make such a big difference for people.
We’ve been working on the master planning project for Nasiriyah (a city in Southern Iraq, Dhi Qar) for over two years now, and you may have got hints from this blog that I was working on something interesting!
|Iraqi Planners in Kendal|
We also held training sessions here in the UK (in Liverpool) for the Iraqi planners that will eventually take ownership of the master plan. This was a great opportunity to meet town planning and local government professionals from a very different environment. Despite all the sad stories that news organisations like to print about Iraq they were all very upbeat confident professionals who wanted nothing but the best for their country. It was a very positive and friendly experience for both parties.
As we are a small firm everyone needs multiple skills outside their specialisms. I maybe a planner but I’m also the IT guy responsible for our website/social networking, general systems and backup procedures as well as a projects GIS, I’m often involved in CAD and word/Indesign production as well. It’s not a boast its just what you have to do in a small team, and it certainly keeps you on your toes!
|Extract Map Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar, Iraq|
My involvement has been with the many aspects of the Planning standards, GIS and mapping as well some of the report writing.
I did the research of existing Iraqi standards and master plans (from mainly Polish firms in the 1980s) as well as helped create the new planning standards.
There were also instances where facts on the ground changed during the project for instance water and sewage treatment plants were being completed before whilst the project was just getting started! This was not a problem (but it did require some updates to the GIS!) as to wait for planners to figure out where best to site these plants would be unfair and harmful to the local population.
The GIS for Nasiriyah
Here in the UK I have managed and updated the GIS for the Nasiriyah project. It’s been a steep learning curve as although I know the capabilities of GIS and how it can add real value to a project some of the more technical/programming aspects I am not so familiar with.
|Capture those GCPs!|
Our Iraqi partners (Iraqi Planners Group) did all the major surveying and photography in Iraq. They collected together large datasets and sent them to us as geodatabases (ArcGIS). Difficulties with the datasets were mainly down to language barriers. Our Arabic being ‘limited’ meant that we relied on their English skills and our use of Google Translate which sometimes led to confusing labels and fields. However we have close contact with our Iraqi counterparts and these were quickly ironed out.
Satellite Imagery was also purchased that covered Nasiriyah city’s existing size on the, this was georeferenced with appropriate Ground Control Points (GCPs).
Well that’s all for the moment about the project I’ve been working on obviously I can’t let you know everything but if you are interested you can visit Garsdale Design Limited’s website for experience sheets on the project.
I’ll just leave you with extracts of some the mapping I’ve done for the project…. it would be nice if people had questions or comments about any aspects of the project.
|Early Landuse Map|
|Time in Residence|