Opinion | Big Data and Marvelous Mapping

Data driven mapping tools to help you find out more about your area...

If you’re anything like me, a map is not just a way to navigate and find directions. It's a thing of beauty that reminds me of places and people I know, and hints at those I don’t.

Maps also tend to be the thing that gets people excited about data. If maps were not so familiar to us, we could easily feel like we’re drowning in data, but we’ve grown up with maps and are used to interpreting them (not that I would believe anybody who says they’ve never got lost following a map).

Data, like maps, doesn’t tell us the way, it shows us a way, or ways, to a destination that we have the freedom to choose.

There is a huge range of useful and map-able data out there to help you get under the skin of the audiences in your area:

  • UK Data Explorer is a particularly easy to use website with everything from census data to a few “just for fun” visualisations such as Top 200 Reddit Posts of All Time.
  • DataShine looks a bit more complicated at first, but is actually really easy to use and switch between lots of datasets.
  • Data.Gov.UK’s map based search for those who really want to get does exactly what it says on the tin. You can search for data about a specific geographic area by drawing a box around the area you’re interested in on their interactive map. The tool then provides a list of everything that’s been published by the government for that geographical area – perfect if you want to know the location of local bike racks or parking bays.

Enjoy… Don’t get lost!

Top Photo credit: Alexander Baxevanis via Flickr / CC BY