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Falkirk Council builds mapping service to fight poverty

A Scottish local authority is rolling out an online scheme which uses open source geospatial data to help residents access essential services, including food banks, digital access and advice, as part of its battle to combat poverty in the region.

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Falkirk Scotland.jpg

Falkirk Council developed the ’Our Falkirk’ service with tech company thinkWhere, with funding from the Open Data Institute. The scheme, which is part of the council’s Towards a Fairer Falkirk anti-poverty strategy has also made use of open datasets and open source technology. Falkirk is one of the most deprived areas of the country.

 

Based on the free OpenStreetMap (OSM) wiki mapping platform, thinkWhere developed a web-based user interface with four themes: digital access, food provision, community help and advice and council advice.


Falkirk Council had already identified open data as a gateway to data sharing and helping people to find essential services. It has supplemented information on its own services with data from community groups, and added details on each service provider and outlet to the map. Information such as descriptions, contact information and opening times have been translated to OSM tags.

 

Fairer Falkirk manager Sally Buchanan said: “We know that poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor access to services. Services that provide money advice, access to food provision, digital access and community support are therefore crucial in supporting people.”

 

She said that thinkWhere has provided the technical expertise for the project and added: “We have also developed tools and working practices that can have wider community benefits both for Falkirk and other organisations.”

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