Commonplace maps

For the past couple of years we have been using Commonplace maps for some of our engagement work - it's a way of getting feedback from people that is geographically focused - 'I want this change in this location'

You can see an example here.

Do people find this a useful way to get involved?

Are our surveys clear enough?

How could we do better?

Why the contribution is important

We think online mapping tools are a good way to approach certain kinds of projects - for example highways measures and some regeneration schemes.

It's important to us to understand whether we are doing it right, or if there is a better approach we could use in the future.

by Jonathan_SouthwarkAdmin on December 08, 2021 at 08:47AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 2.3
Based on: 3 votes


  • Posted by vivjones172 December 08, 2021 at 09:32

    The Commonplace interface is terrible. You need to click every bubble and box separately to read all comments. It is hard to see which comments are council's and which are users'. The system does not facilitate detailed discussion. It is not a good way of developing community engagement on complex issues. It requires a good level of English and understanding of how these systems work.
  • Posted by EP05313 December 08, 2021 at 09:46

    This type of engagement tool is absolutely needed, however, I agree the Commonplace interface is not fit for purpose and clearly was not designed with the user experience in mind.
  • Posted by Jonathan_SouthwarkAdmin December 09, 2021 at 08:24

    Thanks for your comments. In reply to Viv - there is actually a way to view all the comments in a list (look under the menu tab), but of course then you lose the map aspect.

    If we still want to retain the 'pins in maps' approach for some of our engagement, what would make it work better for you?
  • Posted by Luke December 11, 2021 at 13:13

    Maps like these are only useful if it's clear how the council is going to use that data.
    For the bike hangar one used in the example, this really isn't the case. There doesn't seem to be any follow-up from the council regarding which ones have been actioned and why. You can't tell whether liking another person's pin will be more or less effective than adding your own.

    When I first moved into the Borough, I came across the link to this and my impression was that it was some old thing the council set up ages ago and doesn't use any more.
  • Posted by Jonathan_SouthwarkAdmin December 13, 2021 at 08:23

    Thanks for that comment Luke. Follow-up is a really important point. Just to note though - people who put a pin in the map and subscribe to get updates will get occasional news stories like this - in addition, if you live near one of the locations where a hangar is planned you will get notification of a public consultation when it happens.

    But I do agree it would be nice if we could show this clearly on the map itself, so that people who are more casually interested can see where the feedback has brought results - because this scheme is very much active and proceeding at pace.
  • Posted by Chris24Norris December 13, 2021 at 10:09

    Good idea in principle. Such maps can look messy and cluttered when there are many entries to be displayed
  • Posted by Luke January 15, 2022 at 12:06

    I used to live in Greenwich and quite liked their commonplace map:

    There was no presupposed topic and it gave an opportunity for residents to pinpoint issues on a very localised basis, that they mightn't otherwise tell the council about (eg a particular cross not working well for pedestrians, or too many parked cars causing a bottleneck down one specific side street).

    Again, it wasn't clear how the info was then used by the council.
    I can think of some things you could do with such data:
    * Identify areas with lots of problems as a prompt for redevelopment.
    * If there's already plans for a specific area, tweak the plans to factor in any comments from the map ahead of the usual consultation step.
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