Browsed by
Category: datasets

UK local online #mapping is a stupid mess…

UK local online #mapping is a stupid mess…

Yuck, online mapping 1990s style

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.

Where’s my broadband coordinator? Cumbria CC

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).

Walk this way , Cumbria PROW map
Cumbria’s Historic Environment Record mapping is shit, no really

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.

Eden Web Mapping, basic but okay?
South Lakeland’s mapping just like Barrow’s and I quite like it..

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….

Related Posts


ESRI UK Conference – My Presentations

ESRI UK Conference – My Presentations

My first presentation on Day One was entitled the “10 Minute City” to a largish group of people who made the trek to the basement instead of hearing about exciting developments in ArcGIS 10.1.  Honestly, thank you for coming down and listening to us all, not just myself.   VIDEO TO VIEW HERE After initial issues relating to my video not playing on ESRI laptops and codecs (I’ve never figured out codecs all I can say is it worked on my PCs and their offices ones too).

Here I demonstrated a workflow that used CityEngine and ArcGIS as the pivot points in creating a very basic city model for visualisation and analytical purposes.   I hope this went down well and if people have any more questions about it (I know I skipped some of the detail) then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

My second presentation entitled “Games and the City” was to a much smaller audience, I gave a live demonstration and an insight into a workflow we’ve been looking at using specially built software with assistance of InfoLab21.

My quick quiz about what game and system this screen shot was from got no correct answers unfortunately (and I was going to give the person who guess correctly a snazzy GDL memory stick!).
Perhaps you would like to guess? (answer in the comments below, no prize though sorry!)


Both presentations should be available to upload from the ESRI site soon, I’ll also try and post it here soon.

Apologies to those of you who saw the presentation and saw it stall at one stage.   I’ll blame it on the lack of a mouse mat, the awkward position of the mouse on the podium oh and my shakey hand due to nerves!

Mapbiquity a home for your shapefiles?

Mapbiquity a home for your shapefiles?

“because maps should be everywhere”
No truer word was written…

Mapping is a wonderful business, those into GIS really love mucking about with all that data.   But there is one thing I know that is universally hated, yes it’s printing or making it at the very least available to others (you know online…..).

Look it’s Cumbria!

Well Mapbiquity is a new kid on the block that aims to get all those shapefiles you have, hosted and displayed online.  It takes you through a 3 step process upload, style and maps to create a map and then provides you with some code that you paste into your site to display your map.   It uses Google maps as its background which I can imagine in the UK concerning some users when it comes to Terms and Conditions (ah don’t you just love licensing and terms?!).

The process works pretty well I had some trouble placing it on blogger (my blogging platform here), however support was very forth coming and some code was rustled up for me.

I really like the idea of an online mapping solution that fills the gap between free and expensive to host GIS files.   However I have some concerns that those who know about  shapefiles might want more functionality (or something other than a Google background, for example OpenStreetMap).

I would highly recommend anyone with a few shapefiles hanging around and an urge to put some maps online trying this new service out (the starter package gives you 10MB for free)!  It promises to allow you to create some good looking maps.

I wish the Mapbiquity team all the best and look forward to new features and functionality!

GIS timelapse video Part 2

GIS timelapse video Part 2

The second in my series of a mystery dataset with a time/date element to it… but what is it and where is it?
Clue: first point has a year of 1946 and there are over 350,000 entries…. oh and I’ve blogged about it before 🙂

GIS timelapse video Part 1

GIS timelapse video Part 1

Okay I’ve started experimenting with some data I have access to, the new time attribute function in ArcGIS10 and my new YouTube account.

So can anyone guess what data I’ve used and where it’s located (honestly if you know me it’s not that difficult!)?  Clue first point has a year of 1946 and there are over 350,000 entries…. oh and I’ve blogged about it before 🙂

Mapping Cumbria – Designation Datasets

Mapping Cumbria – Designation Datasets

Listed Buildings Near Sedbergh

So in my travels to find GIS data for Cumbria I’ve been looking at national data sets.  One interesting site I’ve found is from English Heritage who allow the download of ‘designation datasets’.

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.

I’m slowly building up quite a dataset of Cumbrian related material, and combine that with the Portable Antiquities Scheme live datasets you can make some quite useful maps.

That’s a lot of listed buildings in Cumbria!
Cumbria GIS – Where are those datasets and mapping sites?

Cumbria GIS – Where are those datasets and mapping sites?

Okay this is a basic list to start with that I started on our company website Garsdale Design- Useful Mapping, I’m looking to expand it, so hopefully you readers can help here, if you know of any other Cumbria mapping sites or Cumbrian related datasets, could you perhaps share them via the comments section, or tweet me?

I’ve also started a group at called “Cumbria, UK ArcGIS Group“, please join it if you are interested!

Here’s what I have so far (you’ll notice most are local authorities) and I will be adding more to it:

These sites although not Cumbria centric do hold data on Cumbria:

OS OpenData: the CDs

OS OpenData: the CDs

Well here they are the OS OpenData sets in all their glory, and free!
You can get yours here: