Networked mapping

Roy Greenslade points to Chorley, an English town suffering from the lack of an official map. The local paper, the Chorley Guardian, used to produce one but it started a campaign to get the borough council to Give Us a Map.

But why not make a networked map? Start with Google Maps to satellite view of Chorley from above (who needs cartographers when we have satellites?). Then use a social mapping application like Platial to have local folks come in and fill in addresses and names; you don’t need everyone to do it, just that fabled 1 percent of nosy yet helpful neighbors. And they can add more than just names and addresses; they can review restaurants and warn you away from mean dogs. Or you can include dynamic information: report a pothole here. Google Maps will soon allow you find coupons for the local businesses. Then look at data applications like and layer on more information: arrests but also perhaps home prices. And, of course, because the UK has better mobile phones than we do, you’ll be able to see it all on your cell. While you’re at it, why not add on local tour podcasts (on your left, they’re having a nasty divorce….). By God, Chorley could end up with the best damned map on earth.

: And as a commenter points out, I should have included Up My Street.

And with GPS and a phone, people could leave voice or SMS annotations for any location in town.

What else?

LATER: More good ideas in the comments and here, too.

  • Dan Gillmor and I once discussed this very same idea. It’s a terrific concept that local governments should seriously consider. There are whole swaths of information services they can be providing with such mashups. Then again, so could newspapers, with their deep store houses of data, sitting in un-surfaced databases.

    Props to

  • Given British police forces’ attitudes Freedom of Information, it’s probably unlikely anything like Chicago Crime will be possible here any time soon. But the site you imagine could be integrated with lots of other geo-coded data, like what’s already available on sites like

  • Wise One

    I remember when cartography was a highly skilled profession. It is now “vanilla ice cream” to take an idea from THE WORLD IS FLAT.

    No pun but a flat world does not need cartographers.

  • Rob

    And, let’s not forget Wikimapia, which is already doing something of the sort.

  • There is a whole slew of Google Map mashups at

  • Richard Webb

    Get some photos and add your own to the National Grid, through

  • ben

    I second the recommendation of wikimapia.

    Pretty neat, and seems less commercialized than Platial.

  • This DIY approach to (self-)representation is definitely what it’s all about! The knowledge that already exists inside a community is basically more timely, and usually more relevant than the data that would be collected by an external agency via a ‘mandated order’. This is exactly why there are so many new online map apps, it’s also fun :)

    Your mention of that fabled 1% is pretty much right on the nose too. Here is an example of Piotr, a guy who is single handedly mapping his entire French village (Roscoff): Piotr.

    Organizing all this data is also becoming crucial, allowing people to see (and not see) certain veins of data in the groupings that make sense to them. You could have a million overlapping items, but how do you dig through it?

  • Some more ideas from a teacher on how we could get the kids to do it all: geotagged photos for a virtual visual tour placed on Google Maps, overlays of people’s favourite walks, using WorldMapper to give a comparison of Chorley vs the rest of the world… More over on my own post (I got carried away ;-)

  • This would all be wonderful if the terms of use of google maps gave you the right to derive vector and point data and make this available, or if you licensed Ordnance Survey Data. All you are doing is creating a derived work by using google sub licensed imagery and map data.

    Collaborative GPS mapping exists, see

  • Of course, the satellite maps have interesting features… like showing a refrigerator in my daughter’s best friend’s back yard.

    Obviously, the refrigerator was from pre-best-friend-historic times.

  • Pingback: OpenGeoData » Blog Archive » This week on the OpenStreetMap list…()