Making geographic information accessible and useful to the public is a key goal for Ordnance Survey and it’s great when examples of our Public Sector Mapping (PSMA) datasets are used in something that’s easy to explain.
Surrey Heath Borough Council is using interactive maps for the public consultation stage of a major development, the Camberley Town Centre Area Action Plan. The maps built into Council’s website enable citizens to go online, view maps, aerial photography, download details of the proposed development and leave comments. This facility is enabled through Astun Technology’s iShare data integration and publishing platform and more specifically its ‘Logger’ module
Access to the consultation is via the Council’s home page, one click takes you to landing page focused on the Camberley Town Centre Area Action Plan and a further click takes you to a zoomed in aerial photo of the site. The map interface should be familiar to anyone and it is simple to toggle between aerial photos and detailed Ordnance Survey maps. As the user’s mouse hovers over the proposed development, which is layered on the map, different site specific ‘pop-outs’ appear with descriptive information and links to further detailed information. By clicking on the ‘Comments’ button you can see comments left by other people and leave your own, just click on an appropriate point on the map and leave a comment in the pop-out box.
Collating all the comments for consideration by the planners might be a tedious process, but here it has been automated, courtesy of a GeoRSS feed which is linked to the Council’s PostGIS database where the maps are stored.
This means all the comments can be viewed as a list in a web browser or on a map in the Council’s professional or web based GIS because the precise coordinates are saved with each comment. The interface makes it easy to comment and easy for the planners to see the comments. Hopefully this will help influence planning decisions and make the whole process more transparent.
iShare is web based software designed to provide public access to vital service information via a Council’s website, encouraging people to do more things online. It is in use with over thirty Local Authorities across England and Wales. However, this is the first example we’ve come across where online reporting has been used to enable the public to comment on a planning proposal.
We have seen Ordnance Survey mapping data being used before to assist individuals in reporting road incidents such as potholes or abandoned vehicles where a precise location is essential. But it’s great to see another innovative way of using the same technology.