May 23, 2019 -- Scotland’s Falkirk Council has 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, http://our.falkirk.gov.uk/ 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, 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.”
Fiona Thomas, +44(0)1786 476060 or Email Contact