We were asked, at pretty short notice, if we could provide a load of printed maps of Trafford for a Trafford Partnership Interfaith event. This was a full day workshop held on Monday 15th September, bringing together all the different faith groups and organisations in Trafford, to allow them to do some networking, and a series of sessions on things like adoption and fostering, and how to engage communities.
The maps were needed for a session on funding – what funding is available, and how to get it. The intention was that each group/organisation would write down the services that they provide, and stick it on the map. There would then be this visible representation of what exists where.
We figured that it would be an excellent opportunity for us to test out some crowdmapping ideas. We decided that we would try to get the representatives that were at the workshop to geotag their own groups. We could then project the resultant map onto the big screen in the room, and see how groups are spread across Trafford. As a by-product of this, we would then have a spatial layer of faith groups in Trafford, to which we could add things like the faith survey, or lay demographic data underneath.
We decided that the best way to do this would be to project a map of Trafford, using Leaflet with Open Street Map tiles, onto four pieces of flipchart paper taped together on the wall.
We would then ask people to come and identify where their group was situated, and put a dot on the map. We would pop up the Lat and Long of the points, and drop them straight into a GeoJson file we had prepared, which would allow us to refresh a bigger map at the other end of the room.
At the same time, they were to fill in one of these:
This would allow us to draw polygons (at a later date) of each organisation’s reach, and the services that they offered, so that we can identify if there are any gaps.
How it actually went down
Projecting the map onto flipchart paper, and marking the points with a pen felt like a nice way to get people up and talking, able to see who else was there, and where they were situated. There were about 30 groups and organisations at the session.
We knew that people would want to zoom into the map to get right to street level, so to ensure the points remained in the correct place, we had to anchor the map, using three known points. So we picked three points, Partington, Stretford and Wythenshawe, so that we could return the map to the correct zoom and centre. This was much more time-consuming than I had imagined, and made it take longer to mark the points on the map.
We also found that as people came to do the tagging, the table that the projector was sat on was being knocked. This caused the points on the flipchart to slip, slightly (though not affecting the coordinates).
We also discovered that a lot of people cannot pick out where their organisation is based on a street map, so it took a long time, again, to find the right building. There were also people there who were representing multiple sites, some of which they could not locate at all.
Transferring the coordinates to the GeoJson file also felt like a bit of a laborious task, as we had to write them down, then type them in on a different laptop.
By the end of the session, we were able to put up on the big screen a map showing the distribution of faith groups around Trafford. It was useful to be able to see the spread, and the gaps.
This has given us something to build on. We know that not all faith groups were present at the session, but we can add and amend groups as we are told about them.
We will also continue to develop the map – adding details of services provided, contact details, and some data around demographics, so that hopefully, it becomes a useful tool for commissioners, funders, the public, and the groups themselves.
To view the map, you should go here: www.infotrafford.org.uk/faith
This is what we’ll do differently next time
Marking the points on the flipchart paper seemed at first like an unneccesary complication, but there were conversations started by people seeing another group near to their own. Ensuring the projector/table is sturdy is important here.
We will add a button to the map that resets the map to a specific centrepoint and zoom-level, ready for the next person.
We will consider having two machines set up, with two people, allowing us to work through the crowd twice as fast. This is in place of the person updating the GeoJson file live
We will explore the possibility of using a Leaflet plugin to actually create the markers. This will eliminate the need for transcribing coordinates, and will allow us to build the GeoJSON file on the fly.
We will add a search facility, so we can search the map by street name.
If you want to know more about this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. And if you are a faith group based in Trafford, please give us your details so we can add you to the map!