Stirling, Scotland, 23 May 2019 – Falkirk Council has now rolled out a new online service that signposts essential services such as food banks, digital access and advice for residents. Working with Stirling based technology company thinkWhere, ‘Our Falkirk’ utilises open datasets and open source technology to develop a community web mapping solution overcoming barriers such as data sharing, licensing and costs.
Developed by thinkWhere and funded by the Open Data Institute, Our Falkirk is part of Falkirk Council’s Poverty Strategy.
“We know that poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor access to services,” commented Sally Buchanan, Fairer Falkirk Manager at Falkirk Council. “Services that provide money advice, access to food provision, digital access and community support are therefore crucial in supporting people.”
Our Falkirk is grounded in the use of OpenStreetMap, often described as the ‘wiki mapping platform’, a powerful editable map resource. OpenStreetMap (OSM) is free to use and uses ‘tags’ to allow users to freely describe data in a way that meets their specific needs. Using OSM, thinkWhere developed a simple web-based user interface with four specific themes; Digital Access, Food Provision, Community Help and Advice and Council Advice.
“Web technologies and open data, such as OpenStreetMap, have driven an explosion in the use of community created and maintained geographic data and for Our Falkirk to succeed we knew we needed to leverage the full flexibility of this data,” added Alan Moore Chief Executive of thinkWhere.
Falkirk Council had already identified open data as a gateway to data sharing and making essential services more readily discoverable. Council held information on service provision was supplemented with information from community groups. Each service provider or outlet was added to the map and information about the service, such as description, contact information and opening times, translated to OSM tags.
“thinkWhere’s technical expertise and innovative approach has enabled us to develop a product that will really help us reduce the impact of poverty on individuals, families and communities in the Falkirk area,” concluded Buchanan. “We have also developed tools and working practices that can have wider community benefits both for Falkirk and other organisations.”
Click here to use the new “Our Falkirk” interactive map
A project report has also been produced detailing the work done. Click here to view the report.
The Project team is hoping others can benefit from our experiences and work if they are undertaking similar mapping and data collation exercises using open data and open source software. As a result, the open source code is available, and can be redeployed and customised. You can find the code here on GitHub. It’s fantastic to see it’s being used elsewhere already. Click here for an example of it’s re-use.
Enquiries to Fiona Thomas, Business Development Manager, on 01786 476060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial enquiries, contact Robert Peel on tel +44 (0)1666 823306 or email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
thinkWhere provides an online platform for storing, sharing and using maps and geographic data. Utilising Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies, thinkWhere has developed cloud-based software applications and tools, backed by a wide range of Open GIS implementation, consultancy and training services.
Based in the historic city of Stirling, Scotland, with customers across the UK and worldwide, thinkWhere pioneered the development of web-based platforms for collaborative GIS products and services. The company has a 10 year proven track record of delivering solutions at local, regional and national levels in the UK public and commercial sectors.
For further information visit www.thinkwhere.com