A HUGE virtual map of Edinburgh which pinpoints the location of almost every council service – from park benches to primary schools – has been launched online.
Dubbed Edinburgh Atlas, the topographical database has been billed as the largest web-based information resource yet commissioned by the city, taking hundreds of hours to configure and with much of the content made available for the first time.
It allows users to explore the Capital via an aerial photograph, with locations of old ward boundaries and ancient woodlands as well as recycling points, disabled parking bays and public CCTV networks revealed with the click of a button.
The resource is so comprehensive that even the positioning of the city’s drains can be highlighted.
By scrolling through aerial photos from the 1940s until today, users can explore the geographical history of the Capital while also viewing Ordnance Survey maps of the city from the 1850s.
It is thought Edinburgh Atlas, which contains far more detail than Google or Bing maps, will slash the number of information requests and save the council money.
Dan Cookson, senior analyst at property finder Citylets, who has a background in geographical information systems, was impressed by the online tool and predicted it would be highly useful to residents and industry.
“If you are looking to buy a house somewhere and would like to know about planning applications and conservation areas, there’s the kind of stuff that forms part of an assessment of an area,” he said.
“I have played around with these things for years and this is very good. They have compiled a lot of data with a very simple interface to use. It has a lot of content if you are exploring many different things.
“It’s very much council data so some of it is pretty dry stuff, but if you want to know where to park, there’s [a map for] disabled parking or recycling areas. It’s nice to explore the old mapping as well.”
Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance and resources leader at the city council, said: “This is a fantastic resource and one which we hope will greatly benefit residents. Technological advances over the last few years have finally made it possible for us to put this information on one map.
“It’s all part of our commitment to opening up the council. Members of the public will now have 24/7 access to data that previously needed to be requested and this helps us provide a quicker, more efficient, customer service.
“Residents can get a wealth of information about their area. I’d urge everyone to go and take a look and see what they can discover about their local area.”
WISHFUL THINKING ON TRAMS
ONE major flaw has already been highlighted on Edinburgh Atlas – it shows a tram network running all the way to Leith.
With the line now terminating at York Place, site designers could be accused of wishful thinking but users can report any errors to the council, which says it will rectify them. It is compatible with Explorer and Firefox browsers, but there have been problems on Google Chrome.