Showcasing OpenStreetMap with the Fairer Falkirk Partnership

In early February, the Fairer Falkirk project team at Falkirk council welcomed members of the Fairer Falkirk Partnership (a mix of participants from across Local Government and community organisations), to a stakeholder workshop. The workshop introduced everyone to a web app thinkWhere is developing as part of a community mapping project funded and supported by the Open Data Institute.

The web app is being designed to map community services initially concentrating on the theme of digital access. This data theme shows various locations across Falkirk where members of the public are able to go and access digital services including, for example, internet and Wi-Fi services.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is the data source underlying the web app.  We were able to showcase how features from OSM could be displayed using OSM tags to display services available at a location, alongside other information such as the address, phone number, opening times and wheelchair accessibility.  Our next development priority is to expand our tagging schemes to capture further information, such as whether membership is required to access services.

Demonstrating new apps to stakeholders in a workshop setting can be a bit daunting as you never know how the audience will respond.  In this case, the overall response at the workshop was positive! Participants agreed that the map will be a great tool for both the people of Falkirk and frontline staff looking for an easy and simple way to direct clients to the services they need.

Many of the workshop participants were complete OSM “newbies”, so it was a great learning experience for all involved to think about how this rich data source can be used for the benefit of the community. Using truly open datasets often requires a new way of looking at data and how it is updated and maintained.   Although the workshop had some reservations about the wiki-style nature of OSM, we felt the group recognised the overall benefits to the Fairer Falkirk project and beyond.

Lots of great ideas were discussed for future data themes including the following:

  • Money Advice
  • Physical Activity
  • Parent & toddler groups
  • Children’s activities
  • Places where low-cost / second-hand furniture could be obtained

Next steps…

Over the next few weeks we will be gathering data on the second of our two initial themes – food provision. With help from the Fairer Falkirk Partnership, our aim is to map as many organisations and community groups as possible within the local area, that are providing food for those who need it. These will include food banks, community groups, soup kitchens and community gardening projects.

After discussions with colleagues at the workshop around what to call our web app, we have decided on “Our Falkirk – Local Support Services”. We feel this reflects the purpose of the app and conveys that it is a community tool for local people.

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