The Credit Crunch in Mapping England

December 28, 2008

iPM’s credit crunch “mood” map from April 08 appears in Simon Foxell’s book Mapping England It’s very rewarding, browsing the shelves of the local bookstore on a chilly Saturday, to unexpectedly discover your work highlighted in this way (even if it is erroneously attributed to the Today programme in the notes).

Foxell rightly notes that the results are not scientific- respondents are self selecting – indeed, the maps were only ever designed as a way of reflecting the mood of the audience . But the audience response did suggest topics meriting further investigation.

The iPM map was built by the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, and uses their MapTube technology. Here’s part of the first map we ran in April

The areas shaded light blue show where respondents were primarily worried about fuel prices, dark blue is mortgage or rent, green, food prices. We ran a second similar map from October 08 till the early part of ’09. In that job security was flagged as a significant issue for the audience. While job security wasn’t an option on the first map (and it’s therefore not possible to use the two maps to describe a change in attitude) some geo-demographic analysis by CASA suggested that respondents were more affluent than the UK population as a whole, which makes this result all the more interesting.

The mapping project while not a scientific study, as we noted frequently on-air, produced results of much greater richness than an online vote alone. It’s been gratifying to see other parts of the BBC also use this technique (e.g. Manchester Congestion Charging, and  Anti-social behaviour ) Using a different system, BBC Have Your Say have also produced their own pin and comment based,  “squeeze” map.

The maps are hosted on MapTube which also includes the facility to mix and match different data sets. We can, for example, compare, the numbers of people who responded to our first crunch map, with a map of population density. There’s clearly scope for more work based upon this powerful feature of MapTube.

For more on CASA’s work see this article on the London Profiler.