Category Archives: Crowdmapping

Manchester Disc Golf – Crowdfunding in Trafford

Someone throwing a frisbee at a basket.
Fling! (Photo courtesy Manchester Disc Golf)

A month or so ago, I wrote about a Nesta event that I went to which was all about Digital Social Innovation. At the time, I didn’t have any Trafford-specific examples of crowdfunding, to give an example of it in use.

Now I do!

Longford Park is a big park in the North of Trafford. It used to have a pitch and putt  course, but this is no longer in use. Trafford Council and Friends of Longford Park asked Didsbury Ultimate Frisbee For Amateurs (DUFFA), to help set up a disc golf course on the site.

Disc golf is like normal golf, except you throw a Frisbee at a basket, rather than hit a ball towards a hole. DUFFA set up Manchester Disc Golf to handle the campaign.  The idea being that they would raise enough funds for a 9-hole course.  Any additional money raised would go towards buying additional holes, with the aim of creating an 18 hole course (the nearest one to here is in Leamington Spa).

The course would be free to play, by anyone, at any time – though people would need to bring their own discs, or hire them from the café. Manchester Disc Golf are hoping that the course would act as a focus for the creation of a new community of players and volunteers, of all ages.

So – to the crowdfunding part. Manchester Disc Golf worked out that to pay for the course and equipment, they would need £5,500. They applied to Trafford’s Voluntary Sector Grants in July 2014, and were awarded some money (about £3k), which left a couple of thousand to raise.

To help with raising the funds, the group set up a campaign page on Indiegogo – a website for ‘activating the global community to make ideas happen’.

As well as the amount to be raised, and an indicator of progress against the target, the group have added a video, a description of planned activity, and a breakdown of the costs.

Campaigns are time-limited, to stop them dragging on, but this campaign is also set-up so that even if all of the targeted funds aren’t raised, the group still get everything that has been contributed – some crowdfunding models have a rule that if all of the money isn’t raised, then all money is given back to donators (this would be applicable  where the project could not happen without all the funds. In this case, less money raised just means fewer holes).

People contribute money in exchange for ‘perks’ – with a sliding scale of reward, from a mention on the website, to hole sponsorship (ie advertising space). Awareness of the campaign is raised through social media, leaflet drops, open days and word of mouth.

So far – the campaign site is showing (at 11 November 2014) 89% of funds raised, with 6 days to go.  This , I would say, is a success, and a pretty good demonstration of how crowdfunding can be used to support new community projects.

If any groups are interested in exploring how crowdfunding may be able to help them, this piece from Charity Comms is a good place to start.

Disc golf course map and leaflet
Disc golf course map and leaflet

Sidenote: I actually went to the open day on the 9th November 2014 to have a go. It was really good fun – good exercise, fresh air, and pretty intuitive. I didn’t keep track of my score, though, because I had one eye on the children (who LOVED it), trying to keep them away from the part of the course that the map euphemistically describes as being ‘boggy’.

Crowdmapping Faith Groups in Trafford – A Workshop

The brief

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.

The method

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.

Open Street Map projected onto 4 pieces of flipchart paper.
The Setup – Open Street Map projected onto 4 pieces of flipchart paper.

​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:

Example datasheet
A3 Sheet that groups were asked to fill in.

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.

The outcome

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.

Big map of faith groups
Faith group crowdmapping – outcome

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:

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!

Open Data Manchester Presentation 2014/07/29 – Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab

I was asked if would like to talk about the nascent Innovation and Intelligence Lab at July’s edition of Open Data Manchester. Obviously, I jumped at the chance. It was to be a local authority special, with John Gibbons from Salford also on the bill – talking about INSPIRE (which Salford do very well)

At the meetup there were approximately 15 people, including:

  • Representatives from charities (NSPCC, Children’s Society, GMCVO)
  • Government Digital Services standards people
  • Manchester data people

Most people fitted into more than one of these.

I’ve tried to capture the gist of what I said, and what the room said as I went through the slides, below.

Slide 1

Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab
Slide 1 – Introduction

Here I introduced myself as Jamie Whyte, Head of Trafford’s Innovation and Intelligence Lab, part of Trafford Council.

Slide 2

I used this slide to talk about how use of data in Trafford has evolved, including my role. I have worked for Trafford for 14 years (i think I said 12 at the meetup), in a variety of data roles:

  • Schools’ data analyst
  • Children’s Social Care data analyst
  • Schools, children’s social care and child health data manager
  • Data innovation (covering all council services)

I then compared the current Innovation and Intelligence Lab to the Playstation 3 – and that PS4 equates to bringing the other public sector organisations in Trafford into the team.

(I also had it explained to me that there are 5 controllers and only 4 Playstation because the PS1 had two versions of controller – first without analogue sticks, then second with)

Slide 3

Now we start to get into the lab itself. I spoke about the fact that we are part funded by Trafford Council, and that the Cabinet Office/Open Data User Group/Local Government Association part-fund us through the Release of Data Fund.

I also spoke about the fact that the lab will consist of some council data people, a javascript/html programmer-type, and then data and/or data people from other organisations in Trafford – such as Housing association, police, leisure, CCG, Public Health etc.

I talked about the fact that we would be combining data with emerging technologies, and other Digital Social Innovation methods to radically improve the way we work. Methods such as crowdmapping/crowdsourcing, collaborative workspaces, data – open/linked, and others (read more about that on Nesta’s blog, and my response.

I also emphasised the fact that the Lab would be totally transparent in the way that it operates – blogging and tweeting as we go along, and releasing any data that we use as open data, where possible.

Slide 4

Map of blue plaques in Trafford
Blue Plaques as open data, and mapped

This is the first example of an open dataset released by the Innovation Lab. To find out more about it, you can read a blog post I wrote about it.

Discussion in the room picked up on the fact that following publication of the data, we were notified by members of the public about two further plaques that we didn’t have mapped, and weren’t on the list that is published on the Council website (Paul Young and Benny Rothman). This is almost a miniature example of how opening data can help organisations sort their own data out.

This data and report has been shared with English Heritage and Open Plaques.

Slide 5

This was all about the project with Gorgeous Gorse Hill – to combine their community planting with some sort of data visualisation with flowers. See this post for more info.

Slide 6

This slide looked at some of the things we’re doing to try and make data more real to people who are making decisions about services. The data shows children who have had their height and weight recorded as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.

We wanted to look at different ways of visualising data, and we think that this 3 rotating model would go some way to making the data more real for our public health analyst, and other colleagues in public health.

It was at this point that i mentioned I was thinking about the possibility of using Oculus Rift and VR technology to take this principle to the next level, by allowing people to climb into charts or maps , and walk around, picking out points and data items at will. We are pretty far off this though, I think…

Lot’s of discussion at this point around information sharing, where we have the technology to match this data to other data sets, but Information Governance rules prevent us from doing so.

Slide 7

Drawing to a close, i touched on some of the things that we’ll be working on. 360 Giving, which is a means by which we’ll be publishing open data about the money that we give as grants to voluntary organisations through ou participatory budgets.

libraries is extremely interesting for us. We are hoping to base the lab in a library, and develop the collaborative space so that it is accessible for all people in Trafford. I also spoke to the Head of Libraries in Trafford about opening libraries data, on the morning of the ODM meetup, and she was totally up for it.

We are currently in the process of implementing a new customer relationship management system, and I am working with the project team to ensure data is open and accessible, as an open311 endpoint.

Lot of discussion here around libraries data, and the possibilities that it would bring.

Slide 8

My contact details, though I left off my email address (accidentally jamiedotwhyteattrafforddotgovdotuk) and my telephone number (on purpose).

I also issued a plea for anyone to get involved, who feels like they could work with us. I emphasised the fact that we are looking to work with staff in any public sector organisation who may have an idea, developers or SMEs who may want data, or to test an app with us, students, in particular those doing STEM subjects at Trafford College, and voluntary/charity organisations, who would benefit from data in terms of identifying areas of need, or support with evidencing bids for grant funding.

The point was also made that it would be good if we could get hold of charities’ data, to really give a different view of Trafford.

There was also a short discussion around whether we could create a sandbox environment, where we have a secure place where people can come and do stuff with anonymised data, but that can’t be released. There is definitely something in this, but we need to work with proper information governance professionals to make it work legally.

For everyone that was at the meetup, thanks for listening so intently, and for comments. If I’ve missed anything critical, or got anything wrong here, please let me know, and I can change it…

First open data released by Trafford Intelligence and Innovation Lab – blue plaques

Blue plaque

We have released our first open dataset from underneath the banner of the Trafford Intelligence and Innovation Lab. A list of 16 Blue Plaques (actually 15 blue and 1 red) was previously available on Trafford Council’s Local History site, in 4 HTML tables, with little supporting information.

As part of a larger exercise around understanding and mapping points of interest in Trafford, we decided to turn the Blue Plaque data into an open dataset. Because there are only 16 elements, we decided to include spatial data, as well as a link to a Wikipedia article, if one exists.

So we’ve uploaded a csv file to our filestore, InfoTrafford, from where the file can be accessed. We’ve also added an entry to

In addition to this, we also used the data to create a map showing the spread of blue plaques across Trafford. This map needs a lot of work to make it nice, both visually, and in the back (don’t look at the source code – my AJAX guy’s tied up until next week..!), but it’s a good start for providing a baseline for a lot of asset based stuff we’ll be doing. Some of the markers are approximate, so we’ve also asked that if anyone should see a blue plaque on their travels, they could take a photo with a location-enabled smartphone, and tweet us (thanks Leeds Art Crawl!)

The map highlights quite neatly that there appears to be a lack of blue plaques in the Sale area. Now I know that James Prescott Joule, the physicist who first proved the relationship between mechanical energy and heat, lived and died in Sale, so perhaps he’d be a worthy recipient of one, to restore a bit of parity.

Next steps for us are to turn the data into rdf, and upload to the GMDSP quad store. If only I could get Open Refine working on a corporate IT environment…

Mapping Dog Poo Bins (part 1 – acquiring the data)

We were asked by our comms team if we could help them out with a campaign they are running – #BeResponsible – encouraging Trafford’s dog-owning residents and visitors to pick up their dog’s poo, and put it in a bin, rather than leaving it on the pavement, or (worse), hanging it from a tree.

They specifically wanted a map of bins in Trafford that they could use in promotional literature to devise a series of dog-walking routes.

Now unlike streetlights, schools or trees, we did not already have bins (dog poo, or classic) geocoded, so we set about finding out what we could about bins in Trafford.

It turns out that Trafford, with a population of 228,000 plays host to 1,200 public bins. This represents a rate of 5.3 bins for every 1,000 people. I do not know how this compares to other areas, but what I do know is that this data is available in this format:


The format of the data clearly makes it impossible to simply drop into our GIS, so I had to come up with a potential alternative. In theory, it is possible to use a smartphone to physically capture the lat and long of the bins, by taking a photo with geotagging enabled. By focussing on parks, we could draw up routes and maps for each ward in Trafford (30 parks, across 21 wards). This geotagging could be performed by the people who empty the bins, or it could be that members of the public are encouraged to take a #dogpoobinselfie with geo-data enabled, that they could send to us (not by twitter, though – the relevent Exif metadata does not transfer over Twitter).

As a proof of concept, I agreed to go round my local park (Woodheys Park, in Sale) photographing and geotagging all bins in the park:

This was actually pretty easy – a case of walking round the park (improved health and wellbeing) looking for bins (kids – we’re doing  a TREASURE HUNT), and taking a photo when one is found.

Once back at a computer, the photos can be transferred, and the standard Windows Photo Viewer allows you to view some Exif data:

Exif Data Sample
Exif Data in Windows Photo Viewer

BUT – it is useful to know that if the file is uploaded to an online Exif viewer utility, like View Exif Data, more data is available.

So far, then, I’ve managed to get one park’s worth of data (plus a couple of other bins that I’ve seen as I go about my daily business). But what to do with it next?

Part two of this post will go over the more interesting side to this sort of exercise – adding the bins to OpenStreetMap, producing an interactive map with Leaflet.js, and other visualisations. I will also look at getting proper dog-fouling data from our CRM system, and see what happens when we put bin data on top of dog poo reports.