I like maps. I’ve always been interested in them. Old ones or new ones it doesn’t matter. They are fascinating things. I like all the detail and the wonders that you can discover. I like the way that real life is codified and represented so that we can red and interpret the information in front of us. The rise of online maps has given them a new lease of life. Geospatial information is an exciting area to be in.
Yet maps aren’t just about physical geography. They aren’t always the typical Ordnance Survey maps that we know and love. There are maps that chart the seas, maps that describe the kinds of rock that sits beneath us or even the quality of soil that lies on top. There are maps that show things we can’t see, such as noise maps, or things that move such as flow maps. There are even maps that show relative poverty by street and of course there are topological maps like the iconic London Underground map.
Maps are a great way of telling a story. They allow us to understand something within the physical environment in which we live.
Having said all that, I do have a problem with maps, particularly when it comes to displaying information that is relevant to population density. Take the Digtial Durham programme for instance. Our coverage of effective broadband across the county will be in the high ninety per cent figure by the middle of this year yet when you show coverage on a map there are huge swathes of the county which are not covered. That is because one figure covers the population, or rather the density of property while the other covers land.
If our population was equally dispersed across the territory then the two maps would look the same but at the moment the only way I have of showing the information makes it look like we have done half a job. All the towns are fine and you can see how the population snakes up the valleys but the mountains and the fields are barren.
I need a different projection, one that shows the population as if it was equally distributed. This will highlight those areas which are genuinely under-supported by broadband in the ratio that reflects what is still left to be done.
Is there any chance?