March 27, 2012 -- Surrey Heath Borough Council is using interactive maps for the public consultation stage of a major development, the Camberley Town Centre Area Action Plan. The maps built into Council’s website enable citizens to go online, view maps, aerial photography, download details of the proposed development and leave comments. This facility is enabled through Astun Technology’s iShare data integration and publishing platform.
Access to the consultation is via the Council’s home page, one click takes you to landing page focused on the Camberley Town Centre Area Action Plan and a further click takes you to a zoomed in aerial photo of the site. The map interface should be familiar to anyone and it is simple to toggle between aerial photos and detailed Ordnance Survey maps. As the user’s mouse hovers over the proposed development, which is layered on the map, different site specific ‘pop-outs’ appear with descriptive information and links to further detailed information. By clicking on the ‘Comments’ button you can see comments left by other people and leave your own, just click on an appropriate point on the map and leave a comment in the pop-out box.
“You might think that collating all the comments for consideration by the planners would be a tedious process, but thankfully this has been automated courtesy of a GeoRSS feed which is linked our PostGIS database,” said James Rutter, the Council’s GIS Manager. “This means we can view all the comments as a list in a web browser or on a map in our professional or web based GIS because the precise coordinates are saved with each comment. This makes things much easier and Planning Policy are really enthusiastic about the quality of the comments coming through this channel.” The public consultation phase of this development which includes a public exhibition runs from 5th March to 23rd April 2012.
iShare is web based software designed to provide public access to vital service information via a Council’s website encouraging people to do more things online. It is in use with over thirty Local Authorities in England and Wales. iShare uses a citizen’s address to pull information from a Council’s numerous service delivery systems and presents it in a single view. Citizens can also carry out ‘my nearest’ searches on local facilities and services, view maps, report faults and receive alerts. iShare has a number of discreet modules that add further capabilities. In this case it is the ‘Logger’ module which is used here to enable people to make comments on a planning proposal but elsewhere it enables people to report faults using maps. This is particularly useful for road incidents such as potholes or abandoned vehicles where a precise location is essential.