Maps provide a unique way of seeing – we can discover the history of industry through a visualisation of active and decaying factories or we can measure environmental impacts by portraying landscape change over time. In some cases, social scientists use maps to present empty blocks of colour with designations attached: “deprived,” “remote,” “urban” and so on. For this project, we mean to put places, and more specifically, communities back on the map by making available a range of geospatial datasets. These datasets are free for other researchers to use in order to "map community.” Many of the large existing spatial databases, including those by Ordnance Survey and the OpenStreetMap project have truncated and inaccurate representations (if at all!) of community groups. On the basis of CommunityMaps data, which is continually being improved and expanded, we have also opened up conversations with OS and OSM in order to improve the geospatial representation of community groups in those projects, whether transition towns, community energy projects, eco-congregations, etc. We hope you will use this data to identify correlations between your existing data and these groups and along the way discover the significant (if often hidden) footprint community groups have. Let us know what you find out, and stay up to date through our mailing list: mlist.is.ed.ac.uk/lists/info/communitymaps.

Image caption: Revealing the footprint of community groups across England, Scotland, and Wales: light blue are churches, purple represents transition towns, red is for permaculture groups, yellow are community development trusts and orange dots are eco-congregations.

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