Interactive maps – beyond election results

Media coverage of yesterday’s general elections has included many interactive online maps. Voters have been able to explore the election votes in different ways, seeing who won what where, and how close the contests were.

Here at the Observatory, we use InstantAtlas software to produce this kind of map. We’ve produced a map of yesterday’s election results as an example, but in fact we have many other maps available covering a wide range of topics. For example, Jobseeker’s Allowance claims by ward or the results of the place survey, which asked residents how they felt about their local government.

Looking at these kinds of data geographically can often be illuminating; maps can often reveal patterns that the raw data alone wouldn’t reveal. At the Observatory, the spatial dimension is something we’re always considering – maps aren’t just for election time!

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Interactive maps help monitor recession geospatially

We’ve produced a set of interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help us to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

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Making the right choices in a disaster

INTAMAP map showing measurements of Nitrogen dioxide across the UK

Example INTAMAP interpolation (centre) of Nitrogen dioxide measurements across the UK

If there were a nuclear accident in Europe, how would those responsible for disaster response know where to focus attention? And how would they access the right information to make fast and accurate decisions?

Aston University are collaborating with eight other European partners to deliver the Interoperability and Automated Mapping Project (INTAMAP), which will provide emergency response decision makers with the complex data and information they need over the internet in a usable format… fast.

So, in the case of a nuclear accident, for example, they could use INTAMAP to make the right decisions quickly.

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Map competition for schools

We’re holding a competition for school children to make a map of their local area, being as creative as possible. Glitter, egg boxes, crayons, pens, felt and sticky back plastic; whatever you want!

Up for grabs in prizes are:

  • A digital camera, software and printer package for the winning class or school.
  • An atlas.
  • The winning artwork will feature on our website.

The competition is being held in association with ESRI UK to tie in with the West Midlands Geographical Information Day we’re currently planning for the 19 November 2008.

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