Mapumental: where can I live?

Channel 4 and mySociety – the non-profit organisation who build cool stuff for the public good – have teamed up to create a new website to help people work out where to live, work or holiday.

Mapumental, currently in invite-only beta, takes data about public transport, house prices, senic-icity and combines them with free mapping to clearly show where you can get to in a given time. I’ll discuss some of the data in a moment, but first watch the demo:

For travelling into Edge Hill you can see that most of North and central Liverpool is accessible by public transport in an hour or less. Nudging the time up to 1h15m allows me to get the train in, which is pretty much spot on:

Mapumental 1:00 Mapumental 1:15

The data they combine comes from an interesting range of sources. Traveline supply the National Public Transport Data Repository (for ~£9000 – a snip!). House prices for England and Wales is supplied by the Land Registry. The other data, however, is free!

The base mapping layer is from OpenStreetMap – a project to create a free (as in beer and speech) map similar to the ones available from Google Maps, or even from the OS. It’s created by volunteers who go out with GPS and plot the routes online. Almost all major roads are on there already and certain areas have excellent quality coverage – take a look at South Liverpool for an example of how good it can get.

Edge Hill University Faculty of Health Copyright Bryan Pready, Creative Commons LicenceThe scenic-icity of places was determined by mashing up some other data. Geograph is a project aiming to have a photo of every 1km x 1km grid square in the country. All photographs submitted are under Creative Commons licence so you’re free to use them (with some restrictions).

mySociety took the images and created a game, ScenicOrNot, asking people to rate how scenic a photo looks – nearly 15,000 people took part building up the third layer of information.

The kind of information Mapumental exposes is stuff that’s previously only been known through experience or painful manual analysis of train/bus timetables and estate agent windows. In a time when many people are trying harder to make better use of public transport, knowing all your options is essential.

If you’ve not come across mySociety before, check out some of their other websites:

Channel 4’s involvement in the project is through its new 4iP fund for investing in public service media.

4 thoughts on “Mapumental: where can I live?

  1. Any thoughts on ways to use this to demonstrate that Edge Hill is closer than you think (a promise, not a threat) to people who live in places such as Stockport? And isn’t Geograph something to do with one of our alumni?

  2. Having regularly travelled to EHU from Heaton Chapel near Stockport by train since September, this makes interesting reading. I would recommend the train or train/bus from Burscough Bridge plus a walk up Ruff Lame, for the following reasons – reading/thinking /daydreaming time, fresh air and contact with the elements, an increase in exercise, satisfaction knowing it can be done! And an insight into both the Ormskirk people, Maghull school gossip, and the EHU crowd travelling in from around the NW. Of course its expensive and I have to get up very early, but I don’t regret the decision to take the job or my preferred mode of transport. Incidentally it is also possible to reach all outreach centres by train too – you just have to have the will to make it work!

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