Yesterday an unprecedented three and a half hours passed between my alarm and my first coffee. That coffee was delicious when I finally arrived in the great city of Manchester. I was there for an LGComms seminar. I had a great day and learned loads. I also gave a presentation. The slides are attached but, as is traditional on this blog, they make no sense without a commentary.
So I’ve written one.
The year of the map
Organiser of the event, Darren Caveney, asked me to
“do your usual stuff on emergencies”.
It is quite gratifying (I think) that I have usual stuff. But he also set a general theme of exploring the trends for 2013. The more I thought about it the more I thought we’ve probably got beyond the idea that social networks have a role in warning and informing. The more interesting (and far-reaching) issue is how citizens use the technology.
I am ridiculously proud to have a job working for the council that serves my home council. I really think that people should visit Herefordshire. That Amanda Coleman confesses she wasn’t really sure where Herefordshire is. I said
@amandacomms Just catch the train to Cardiff and get off when the cattle turn brown with white faces
— Ben Proctor (@likeaword) January 30, 2013
Visit Herefordshire can have that for free.
See the Mappa Mundi
This is a thing you should definitely do when you come. It’s a medieval map of the world. It would be pretty useless as an aid to navigation but it is excellent as a representation of how the world is ordered (Jerusalem in the centre, England right on the edge). It reminds me that we tend to have a narrow view of maps which really stems from their development as a way of facilitating the rapid movement of troops and ordnance. Technology makes it increasingly easy for citizens to make and edit their own maps.
Putting things on a map
Volunteers in the west midlands of the UK have chosen to put gritting routes on OpenStreetMap. These are not lines drawn on the surface of the map, it is coded into the mapping data. You could get your satnav to navigate you only by gritted routes.
As it would happen, Andy Mabbett who is involved in this project was there. He said:
Councils can help us expand the gritting map by releasing gritting routes, or instructions for drivers, as open data. #LGComms
— Andy Mabbett (@pigsonthewing) January 30, 2013
This dates from 2010 and it purports to be an attempt to use google maps to crowdsource data on where riot police were located during protests. This could facilitate disorder in areas away from the police.
Ushahidi is best known for monitoring elections and providing data feeds in a crisis. Here it is used to map reports of concerns about the built environment.
There is a practice emerging around Ushahidi (and other platforms) of crisis mapping. Mapsters are trained and practiced in techniques that enable them to work in groups and robustly process data feeds from online networks. The standby taskforce does this really well. A UK project worked across the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Had something serious happened this would have provided a live feed of emerging issues created by a new group, not journalists, not emergency responders, not necessarily in the UK.