Chorley campaign for new map gets global response

A weekly regional newspaper's campaign for a new local map has been flooded with high-tech suggestions, after the story was picked up by bloggers.

The Chorley Guardian in Lancashire has been campaigning for Chorley Borough Council to produce a new map of the town, after finding that the existing one was more than a decade out of date.

The paper's campaign attracted wider attention last week when it was picked up by Guardian media commentator Roy Greenslade's blog. It later featured on the blog of The Guardian's US-based new media columnist Jeff Jarvis.

"The reaction to the blogs is great — it's opened up a whole new field to us," said Chorley Guardian editor Chris Maguire. "It's great that there are far more people talking about it, people with far more expertise with satellite imaging and things like that, so I'm hopeful that we'll come up with some sort of solution."

The Chorley Guardian launched its campaign after Maguire was appointed editor in April, and found it impossible to obtain a map of Chorley for his newsroom's wall. Maguire discovered that neighbouring South Ribble Borough Council distributes a free map, produced by a company that sells advertising to fund its production costs, but that Chorley Borough Council had last produced a similar map in 1995. The decadeold map had long become outdated in the fast-sprawling Lancashire community.

"I think you should be able to get a relatively simple map of Chorley Borough in the same way that you can get one for South Ribble — just a basic street map, where you get an A-to-Z of the street names and a basic map to show where each road is. It's not particularly complicated, but it's hit the web and suggestions are becoming more and more high-tech. Somewhere among them lies the solution."

On his blog, Buzzmachine, Jarvis suggested an online "networked map" using online social mapping tool Platial to allow local people in Chorey to annotate a satellite view of the town provided by Google Maps. This, Jarvis suggested, could be augmented with local business listings and restaurant reviews, and could be made available on mobile phones.

Maguire said: "We've had all sorts of weird and wonderful suggestions about how we could produce a map. One was the satellite image. Don't ask me how it works, it's all very technical, but you can get these ultra-detailed images produced from space, but we've had some remarkable suggestions. Others are far more straightforward. Some people talked about using an Ordinance Survey map, but there's been some suggestion that to do so would cost thousands of pounds."

Another unexpected high-tech solution may come from OpenStreetMap, a group that uses GPS units and specialist software to create road maps of the UK that are not subject to the Ordinance Survey's Crown Copyright.

"We go out and create communitybased maps," said the group's founder, programmer Steve Coast.

"We've done a number of these now. We've done Manchester and all of the Isle of Wight, and we've just done Bath, wherever there's interest, really. It seems like Chorley would be a good one to do next."

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