After a steep learning curve with Maperitive and OpenLayers there’s a map of allotments in the West Midlands available here. It’s still rough around the edges but it forms the basis for further development (such as popups with more data). I only really cracked the techniques involved when I discovered Ed Loach’s wiki page. Thanks Ed! I hope people find it useful
The map is restricted to the West Midlands because we wanted to work with a data set that was almost 100% complete. The data comes from web pages listing allotment sites published by the 7 local authorities in the West Midlands (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry). We didn’t hit 100% as there were 14 allotment sites that either couldn’t be located or had other data quality issues. They are listed on a mappa-mercia wiki page and any help in resolving the issues listed would be welcome. A word of praise here for Birmingham City Council who were able to answer a question about the location of a very small 3 plot redundant site which was at the back of some houses within 2 minutes of contacting their call centre - very impressive.
It was interesting to see the diversity of how to present the information. The list of facilities available showed the most variation. Solihull was the most comprehensive : Site representative – Y/N; Car park – Y/N; Water – Y/N; Rubbish collection - Monthly from February to November; Green waste delivery - Yes at request of site representative; Security lock - Key (£10.00 deposit required). Solihull was also the only authority to have opened a new site and re-opened a semi-derelict one
Whilst editing the allotment sites, aerial imagery also showed up other sites which are privately-run and not run by a local Authority, so our map and underlying dataset shows a more accurate picture that what can be gained just from local authority listings. Even now we might not have located all the privately-owned and run sites - any help or information will be greatly appreciated.
Sadly we were not able to gather via this route the information we set out to obtain for the Allotment Data project which was waiting list data. Local Authorities do not generally hold this data: this is maintained by each allotment site association. This will require either a concerted phone campaign or volunteered information as and when (and if) people see value in this map.
As a result of this work, we discovered the work being done by the New Optimists Forum on food security, and inspired similar work to complete allotment data for Warwickshire. Keep going Andrew!
Mapping data on a themed basis like this opens up all kinds of interesting and linked information and also helps to make contacts and connections with owners and users of the data. Highly recommended for online community building!