Monday, May 23, 2016

Map Reporting in Local Government

There seems to be a mini resurgence in the use of interactive maps by local government as a means to gather information from residents about environmental problems in their neighborhoods.

In the early days of the Google Maps API a number of 'pothole' maps emerged. These, usually non-government, maps were developed to allow anyone to report where roads needed urgent repair. Interactive maps are obviously a very handy resource to use to gather local information and it quickly became apparent to some developers that this kind of map reporting system needn't be restricted to just the reporting of poor road conditions.

In the UK FixMyStreet developed a system which allows residents to report the existence of a wide range of local environmental problems, such as graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs or poor street lighting. The system allows residents to enter the location of a problem on an interactive map. FixMyStreet then sends a report of the problem to the relevant local government agency.

In the United States 'Vision Zero' initiatives have been instituted by a number of cities to try and reduce the number of traffic accidents. At the the heart of these initiatives are map reporting systems which canvas local opinion on safety concerns and gather local knowledge of the city's streets. You can learn more about these initiatives on the Vision Zero - New York and Vision Zero - Boston websites.

In the UK Bristol City Council has recently released the Bristol Bugbears map reporting initiative to gather information from local residents on cycling and pedestrian problems in the city. The Bristol Bugbears campaign is designed to improve the experience of cyclists and pedestrians. Using the Bristol Bugbears map local citizens can report the locations of problems in the city and view the cycling and pedestrian problems reported by other local residents.

The Vision Zero and Bristol Bugbears initiatives are all fixed-term campaigns. So we seem to be seeing a move away from open-ended map reporting systems in local government. These are being replaced with budgeted fixed length campaigns, with identifiable goals & aims, to address specific local problems.
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