6
Jun
2014
0

New election maps website

Ahead of the local and European elections last month, and the recent Newark by election, we launched a new election maps website. It replaced our previous election maps website, which for many years provided a free service to help candidates and party workers as they prepare for elections.

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The election maps website lets users overlay the official boundaries of constituencies and wards on Ordnance Survey maps at various scales.  This is particularly useful at street level, where canvassers working for local candidates need to know which side of the street to cover; or how far along the street to go.

We see the service as our contribution to the democratic process, allowing equal access for all to the building blocks of Britain’s electoral system.

Much of the new election maps website has been built using some of our freely available OS OpenData products, including Boundary-Line. The new site fits into our current portfolio of online map services and provides scope for future development. If you’ve used the old site you’ll notice a host of improvements: we’ve added a bigger map window, easier navigation, slicker searching and more.  The app also works with mobile devices such as tablets, reflecting their increasing popularity with party workers in the field.

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You can find it on our website, just click ‘Election maps’ on the Public tab, or go straight to www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/electionmaps. Never content to rest on our laurels, we’re keen to receive feedback (via Contact Us) on this first release as input for a second version that we aim to launch before the General Election next year – so let us know what you think.

Neil Sutherland, Senior Policy and Engagement Adviser

25 Responses

  1. Dafydd Trystan

    Would be very happy to discuss further the ‘new’ election maps. I was a regular user of the old version and found it very useful for producing maps for canvassers and leafletters. I’ve tried to get the new version to produce similar quality clear maps – but failed. And there are bugs e.g. the printing of ‘a short title …’ across the map. Happy to provide further feedback as the earlier version was a godsend – I’m afraid this seems like a step backwards.

    1. Hi Dafydd

      Thanks for the feedback, I’ll pass it on to the development team as they’re working on an update for the election maps site currently. Would you also be happy for me to pass your email address along to the team, so that they can contact you for further feedback if necessary?

      Thanks, Gemma

  2. Richard Soper

    I too used the previous system for leafleting and canvassing maps. I have so far failed to copy a map to a file and subsequently port it into a paint document to mark out the routes before copying onto a word document to add further information for canvassers. Can someone help me do that

    R Soper

  3. Richard Dolan

    Echoing the previous posts, I also found the previous system very useful. However with the new “improved”? maps I can’t seem to make any progress at all. Whenever I try to navigate, I get a message “…busy drawing your map, we won’t be long”, then it just stays in this state for several minutes before finally drawing the map. This compares with a fraction of a second for the previous version. I’m using an iMac and have tried Chrome and Safari. I would agree with Dafydd, this is a step backwards. I just tried to zoom in before writing this post, about ten minutes ago, still getting the “we won’t be long” message…

    1. Hi Sue

      I’ve just had a word with my colleagues in Customer Services and they advise that if you click on the boundary area of interest, the area is marked in orange and the name displays at the top of the screen. There isn’t currently a way of displaying multiple boundary names, but that is on the development list for the team.

      I hope this helps.

      Thanks, Gemma

  4. Chris Adams

    I agree with others, this NEW Elections Maps is really bad. Whoever gave the green light for it to go live needs to seriously look again.

    I’m very disappointed, bring back the previous version. The drawing maps slogan and waiting for the map is irritating and extremely slow. Then the fun starts…..

    we come to print a simple ward area…oh dear you cannot SEE the map when printed, and it’s got a horrible orange area that masks the map. Even when you put in your own postcode, and try to print, the map is nearly transparent….forget the slider to adjust, it makes no difference.

    POINTS out of 10: ONE (1) Needs to be scrapped.

    1. Hi Chris

      Thanks for the message, our new Election Maps site seems to divide opinion from the feedback we’ve received here and via Twitter – some love it, others preferred the previous version. Rest assured we’re working on the issues people have raised, everything is fed back into our development team and we’ll release any updates as soon as they’re fully tested. If you do need any support in the meantime though, our Customer Services team are best placed to help – they’re available Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. You can call on 03456 050505 or email via customerservices@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

      Thanks, Gemma

  5. Geoffrey Evens

    I too find the new site disappointing. You claim above
    “The election maps website lets users overlay the official boundaries of constituencies and wards on Ordnance Survey maps at various scales. This is particularly useful at street level, where canvassers working for local candidates need to know which side of the street to cover; or how far along the street to go.” This is not possible as the maximum enlargement does not go to the level of detail I would expect to be able to do this. By contrast I am able to look at the website “english-heritage.org.uk” and by using the map search facility can expand the map to the level of OS mastermap with individual houses numbered. This is especially useful in planning deliveries as it enables identification of back to back properties, where there are separate dwellings behind or below the street frontage. (See Manchester Road, Linthwaite or Longwood Gate HD7), both in Kirklees Met District). Given that the English Heritage site allows “not for profit” use at this level, I feel “Electoral Maps should” also do so.

    1. Hi Geoffrey

      Thanks for the feedback, please can you supply the exact web page url of the English Heritage map that you like and we can investigate the functionality further. We’re continue to improve election maps, including further work is planned to improve the map stack we use as part of planned development in 2015.

      Many thanks
      Gemma

  6. Geoffrey Evens

    Gemma
    The relevant url is
    http://english-heritage.org.uk/mapsearch.aspx . For most users the best way in from the parent url
    ( http://www.english-heritage.org.uk ) is to choose “Your Heritage” from the red bar, then:
    Click on “Search the Heritage List”.
    Choose 01 Option “Map Search”
    Type in a Postcode and click on “Search”
    When map appears, expand it by using column going to plus sign until it reaches largest scale, where individual properties are shown with their numbers. Especially helpful on streets which have terraced houses consisting of “back to backs” or with one property above another on a steep hillside. By contrast the Electoral Maps largest scale omits numerous street names, let alone house numbers.

    1. Hi Geoffrey

      Thanks for taking the time to send that information over. I’ll pass it along to the election maps team to consider in their future development plans.

      Thanks, Gemma

      1. Geoffrey Evens

        Hi Gemma. Any feedback from your colleagues in the election maps team? The election is only 100 days away, so it’d be good to know whether any developments are possible. Thanks
        Geoff Evens

  7. Tony Allison

    I note the comments so far and at least I am not alone in my feelings about this “improved” site. Difficult as it may be some one needs to step up and admit that as a functional asset to most campaign planners in comparison to the original this is a disaster and simply not fit for purpose . Another example of using more of the latest technology because it must make things better. Well it doesn’t allways work like that. It seems unlikely that any of the designers or those commissioning this site asked any of the group represented by those commenting here.?

  8. John Gallagher

    This site is very limited in its usefulness to anyone needing to use the information to identify street names in areas where you wish to plan canvassing and leafleting. On maximum magnification of the map there are many missing or blank street names. We are in the period running up to the general election and the site that we should be using to plan our campaigns is not fit for purpose. The previous maps in the old site were useful even though the navigation on the site was poor. What is the likelihood that you will be able to make this site useable to help the planning for GE? It is adversely affecting us right now.

    1. Hi John

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve had a quick chat with the election maps team and they’ve advised me that at the maximum zoom-in level, it should provide the vast majority of street names, apart from the smallest roads where it’s just not possible to fit a label in. The team have asked if you could email customerservices@os.uk if you have any specific examples, so that they can investigate further if necessary.

      Thanks, Gemma

  9. Joe Webster

    The first thing that appalled me was that I am only allowed to see two kinds of boundary at the same time. I came to this site looking to see how the wards in South Cambridgeshire District are divided between the Parliamentary Constituencies of South Cambs and South East Cambs.
    On the old site, I would have been able to see all three relevant boundaries at the same time (ward, district and constituency) and I would also have been able to see the names of the wards.
    This new site has not helped with that relatively simple task, whereas the old one would have been fine.
    I do appreciate that there are some improvements here but on balance I think it is less fit for purpose.
    That being the case, is there any technical reason why you should not make the old site available again and allow us to choose which site to use according to its usefulness for each task?

    1. Hi Joe

      Thanks for the feedback, I’ve had a chat with the development team to get some answers for you. When we redesigned election maps, we went for a full screen map (rather than the previous letterbox) as a priority for usability and also so that the map scaled down for all devices of devices using the site (the previous version failed on a mobile device and several new browser types).

      Since the launch, we have expanded the offering from one to two boundaries, but have heard from a
      few customers who would like to see three boundaries, so we will investigate ways this could be provided, while still passing the test cases for usability and delivering on the wide range of platforms that we provide the service to.

      Thanks for highlighting your requirement.

      Gemma

      1. Joe Webster

        Thanks for your response. Now, how about answering my question?
        It is clear that the new site is better for some purposes and the old site was better for others – so my question still stands:

        Is there any technical reason why you should not make the old site available again and allow us to choose which site to use according to its usefulness for each task?

        1. Hi Joe

          Sorry if the answer wasn’t clear. As the old site failed on mobile devices and a number of modern browsers, it’s not something that we would continue to support and update.

          Thanks, Gemma

          1. Joe Webster

            I am not suggesting that you continue to support and update it, merely that you make it available.
            People wishing to use mobile devices will simply have to accept that it is not useful for that kind of access. (Both the old and the new sites have downsides, remember.)
            As for browsers, I know it is the case that old browsers don’t work properly on some newer sites, but is the reverse also true? I think a new browser should display an old site correctly.
            My point is that it would be helpful to be given the choice. Rather than have one thing which is unsatisfactory in many respects, let us choose the lesser of two available evils for each particular task.

  10. Mike Beecham

    The new election maps site is a little like the ‘Curate’s egg’. I like most of it although some things, such as being able to select the area to be printed I think are not as good.
    My biggest problem is with ward boundaries. I knew last year that boundaries in our area (Lincolnshire) were being changed, and would be used for the May elections. However, Election Maps still shows the old wards and boundaries. When is it going to be updated? I need it now!

    1. Hi Mike

      Thanks for the message, I’ve just been having a chat with the Election maps team around your query. They’ve advised me that they are aware of this and work on a refresh of the data is currently in progress, we hope to have this completed soon.

      Many thanks
      Gemma

  11. Geoff Evens

    The information on an alternative site which uses the largest scale of OS Mastermap in my E-mail of 3rd January 2015 is now out of date. Instead of the English Heritage website the place to go is the Historic England website which uses the same mapping. The URL for this is:
    http://list.historicengland.org.uk/mapsearch.aspx .
    The procedure is identical to that previously described.
    Also I have not heard further from Gemma as to whether she has been able to respond to my request of 26th January above. It would be good to know.

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