The wonderful (or worst) thing about technology is the speed at which it changes. Just when you think you’ve mastered something, is the moment you should be aware that it’s about to be overtaken. Mapping technology is an example. Websites that proudly display maps identifying where things can be found used to be cutting edge. No longer. A team of academic researchers are working with Scotland’s community networks in a project that will hopefully cover every community in the country. Very whizzy stuff.
Why Map Community?
The impetus for project came out of a multi-year ethnographic engagement with transition towns and Eco-congregations with a team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh. We wanted to ensure that our work with these groups was sampled robustly and as we searched around for open data sets we struggled to find anything. We later found in conversation with members of community groups, that groups are as eager to be included in research and model digital cartography as they are under-resourced.
After consulting with colleagues in geography, politics, sociology and religious studies, between 2013-2016 project director Jeremy Kidwell began reaching out to groups in the UK, generating open data sets in collaboration with grassroots practitioners, and thinking towards a larger vision for mapping community in ways that could survive some of the challenges that have thus far prevented large-scale collaboration. Now we have a meta-data sub-group, a churches research sub-group, collaborators across the UK and Europe and a purpose built geospatial data platform hosted by the University of Birmingham which is built on the industry leading open-source package cartoDB
Have a look at where the project has reached so far