Creating a mapped Preston for everyone

The Preston map is beginning to take shape

The Preston map is beginning to take shape

Ever heard of an Open Street Map? No, it’s not that thing Google is doing where they drive past when you’re getting changed or snap your dog having a wee up against the lampost. Open Street Map is where people can help to map their local areas properly and it’s happening in Preston.

Preston has a small but dedicated street mapping community. Luke Bosman, 36, from Brockholes Wood, Preston, is one of them.

“I got into mapping when I was off work for a time and bought a GPS system,” he says, “from there I was out cycling and I found that the maps needed some work. I went online and I started to find out I could do mapping myself and help other cyclists.”

Open Street Map allows users to download maps to their own systems, make edits and upload them back onto the web for others to see. Think of it as Wikipedia for maps.

The Open Street Map community in Preston have been beavering away over the last 18 months and now the Eastern area of Preston is well covered, according to Luke.

He said: “We’re hoping that people will use the Open Street Map version, as it’s a better quality map. We take the maps out and go on routes and then add the changes that happen. You’d be surprised how inaccurate Google Maps and even the official Ordnance Survey maps can be.

“It’s one of those nerdy things that really pays off. We want people to be able to plan walking and cycle routes and be confident in knowing that those routes are correct.

“The best thing is that if you’re on your walk and something doesn’t match up to the map, you can log on and make that change yourself.”

Luke recommends getting a good GPS system if you want to get into your mapping. The Open Street Map site has details of which systems are compatible, but it’s possible your mobile phone could be.

Luke now has plans to organise a mapping meet-up, where a group of people meet and then map set routes, most likely with a few beers afterwards, and his long-term aim is to deliver something for the Preston Guild in 2012.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could deliver a detailed map of Preston for the Guild?”, enthuses Luke, “to be able to hand over a living and breathing map, created by the people of Preston, that is second to none in terms of accuracy.”

If you’re interested in Open Street Map and would like to get involved then you can get in touch with Luke Bosman via Twitter.

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Making a creative Lancashire?

Lancashire's creative industries are booming

Lancashire's creative industries are booming

You might be surprised to know that Lancashire’s creative industries are in economic terms more important than the county’s tourist sector. Surprised me too.

Creative industries are defined as “a set of interlocking industry sectors that focus on creating unique property, content or design that previously did not exist.” (Wikipedia)

Meeting up with Creative Lancashire, a branch of Lancashire County Council, to discuss their plans for the future it was impressive to see the passion they have for making Lancashire number one in the UK for creative industries. It has the scope to do it.

They are working on a wide range of projects and some of the biggest relate to the 2012 Olympics and making sure that this is the first cultural olympiad. I’d never heard the phrase either. A cultural olympiad is trying to make sure that the Olympics are not just about sport but also celebrate culture – and very importantly ensure it is celebrated outside London.

One of the projects they are working on is called New Cultural Journeys. This involves young people using whatever media they like to show their favourite journeys. Cool stuff.

Another project is We Play. This is all about how people will watch and engage with the Olympics. After all, by 2012, we are expected to be a digital nation and with the TV switchover nearly complete by then the ‘press the red button’ option will be there for everyone. The Olympics will be digital and always on, but how will this impact on how we consume them?

We also chatted about the Preston Guild in 2012 and how with the plans to make it a bigger event and stretch out the length of time it happens for – how it could avoid clashing with the Olympics. Creative Lancashire will no doubt be involved in the Guild and hopefully they can get some of these creative industries involved to ensure that the 2012 Guild is something to remember.

Wiki started for Preston Guild 2012 ideas

After the success of Preston Tweetup, I’ve set up a quick wiki where all the ideas from the night can be jotted down, edited and evolved.

Take a moment to read through them all and then sign up and add your voice to the ideas. We’ll be using this wiki as a base to build on over the coming weeks.

What happened at Preston Tweetup?

One of the break-off groups at Preston Tweetup

One of the break-off groups at Preston Tweetup

I really didn’t know what to expect when I floated the idea of Preston Tweetup and it just goes to show how a decent idea can really go places when people get on board. The night itself generated a fantastic response and fantastic ideas.

Now, what to do with all the great ideas that are floating around on Twitter?

1. Collate and upload onto a wiki

2. Present to Steve Parkinson the Head of Communications at PCC, then possibly to other relevant staff/councillors

3. Maybe ask specific people to expand on their ideas and develop them further?

Using twitter in the room. It was noisy! I think some people had a vision of a tweetup being very quiet, with everyone sitting around on laptops/mobiles and not speaking to one another. It was the complete opposite.

As Chris Skoyles blogged after the event, he was taken aback at just how ‘social’ the social media event was. Damn straight.

And that’s exactly how sites like Twitter should be used; putting the emphasis on the social element of social media/technology.

Yes, a bunch of people did meet up in a pub tonight to post stuff on the Internet, but isn’t that far less anti-social than staying home and doing the same?

Martin Rue added his voice about ‘why Preston Tweetup was cool’:

Reflecting on the event, it was insightful to see an event where conversation was indeed that – conversing with peers without heavy debate or argument. Perhaps it was the subject area, perhaps the people, perhaps the cool name.

And the Preston Writers Network have also done a great write-up of the event and it seems there could be a Guild related literature/writing project on the cards:

I sense a PWN Guild Project brewing – collecting stories via a creative tweet-up: memories of PGs past, and collecting your wildest imaginings for PG 2032 – what kind of Preston will we have created for ourselves by then?

From our point of view the event was a success. The conversation was flowing, but people got it – posting snippets/ideas onto twitter and these were cascading in real-time on Twitterfall (thanks to Jeremy, phpcodemonkey for hooking this up). We estimate there were around 500 tweets during the course of the evening, but some of these were coming from people who weren’t even in the room – it was definitely an inclusive event.

There were two conversations going on, one in the room and the other being played out on twitter, in real-time, in living rooms, bedrooms, trains, wherever there was wireless access, not just in Preston but anywhere that was interested in #prestontweetup.

The LEP photographer got some of us to pose for a suitable cheesey pic at the start, and to their credit the LEP were giving it some on twitter about the Tweetup and posting a couple of pictures on Tweetpic!

This event showed that there is an appetite for social media in Preston and that there’s some incredible ideas out there among the people of Preston – spanning all generations (I think the age range in the room was 16-60!).

What’s the future for Preston Tweetup? We don’t want overkill. I think once a quarter, with a different topic each time, would work really well. It’s a great chance to get people from all different backgrounds, sectors and business’ discussing one topic. As one person commented to me, they’d gone in the space of 30 minutes from chatting to someone with an arts background, to a businessman, to a student, to a teacher!

Preston Tweetup was an example of Britain 2.0, connected, constructive and creative.

Thanks to all who came and a huge thank you to Ruth and Jeremy at the New Continental for providing the venue and thank you to Emma and Colin at Stage 9 Marketing for sponsoring the event, taking part and providing everyone with a free drink to start the night with!

I’d really appreciate your comments below about the night, whether you attended physically or virtually, and your thoughts on the format and topic for the next event.