Say hello to Mapumental

We’ve been hinting for a while about a secret project that we’re working on, and today I’m pleased to be able to take the wraps off Mapumental. It’s currently in Private Beta but invites are starting to flow out.

Built with support from Channel 4’s 4IP programme, Mapumental is the culmination of an ambition mySociety has had for some time – to take the nation’s bus, train, tram, tube and boat timetables and turn them into a service that does vastly more than imagined by traditional journey planners.

In its first iteration it’s specially tuned to help you work out where else you might live if you want an easy commute to work.

Francis Irving, the genius who made it all work, will post on the immense technical challenge overcome, soon. My thanks go massively to him; to Stamen, for their lovely UI, and to Matthew, for being brilliant as always.

Words don’t really do Mapumental justice, so please just watch the video 🙂 Update: Now available here in HD too

Also new: We’ve just set up a TheyWorkForYou Patrons pledge to help support the growth and improvement of that site. I can neither confirm nor deny that pledgees might get invites more quickly than otherwise 😉


  1. Wow! Really impressive. This would have been so useful when I was moving house.

    I can also see it being used for holiday planning – do I need to pay top whack to stay in the heart of Brighton, or can I stay somewhere cheaper with a good local bus service.

    Just a thought – does it cater for families with disparate needs? Say one needs to work in Paddington, the other in Camden, and a child going to school in Hackney.

    Well done. Any chance of an invite?


  2. Aha, so this is what ScenicOrNot was for! Nice!

    Which map are you using as a baselayer. I don’t recognise it from the YouTube video…

    Looking forward to my invite. 🙂

  3. Awesome work guys!

    Are you going to publish the data format this uses so that a third party could provide an extra data layer?

    Would be interesting to for example mash up crime rates, car insurance average rates, broadband speed etc.

    Would also be interesting to merge in some other mysociety data sets – for example numbers of people who use your service to write to their mp would give a rough idea of politically active / inactive areas.

  4. Nice simple visualisation of the data – I’ve been toying with generating some datasets for where it is sunny right now* (ie combining 3d model/terrain data with forecast/realtime weather data).

    Will your software accept additional datasets?

    *a “What we’d like to see” project from the b3ta newsletter a while back, specifically, “which pub garden is sunny right now?”

  5. wow! I need it – now! this is exactly the problem we’re facing (well, apart from working at Parliment). can I have a beta account please?

  6. for families, the #1 concern is proximity to good schools. you can communte a bit longer to work, but if you’re not in the catchment area of a good school you’re buggered (assuming you subscribe to state education).
    school data can be mined from OFSTED, but you can also add a “rate your school” gizmo. catchment area can be estimated by school size & building density, if you have access to those.

  7. Frankie: It’s CloudMade’s Fresh style, of OpenStreetMap data.

    Marcus: The data format is nothing more than lat/lon/datapoint, but as Francis writes here – – it would be hard work, given things such as speed of tile generation, database size, etc. I’m sure he’ll go into more depth.

    Christopher: No, no access to any API, we used the static NPTDR dataset. has details.

    Jon: The Flash is made with the open source Flex SDK.

  8. The map server seems very slow – like three tiles a minute. And apparently I’m the only person using the app now…


  9. But I should add it’s very, very cool indeed 🙂

    One more sadness – I wanted to look at commuting to Orpington (for a friend) but it seems that the postcode BR5 9RT is outside the limits of where you allow. Would it be possible to put a map up of where the legal target area is?


  10. Very very clever stuff, I’ve even started playing with the ScenicOrNot game. I’m hoping to seeing an overlay with sites like Findaproperty, Gumtree or Propertyfinder. Any chance of an invite?

  11. Philip Collins

    Hi there

    Just saw this on Boing Boing and I’m dying to get my hands on a beta account. Any chance?


  12. How perfect! I’m looking for a new home and have actually created a spreadsheet of commute times, particularly bike times, into london, to the places i need to get to most often for work and play.

  13. Bradley Rogers

    Perhaps offer it to the Fees Office for MPs to work out if they need an ACA…

  14. Francis Irving

    Hi Gerv – BR5 9RT doesn’t appear in our postcode databases, hence the error. Google Maps doesn’t seem to know about it either. Is it a very new postcode? Can you find a nearby postcode and use it instead?

  15. This looks wonderful – three friends (different places of work/study) and I have been trying to do this with a paper map and highlighters, and failing miserably to reach any kind of consensus on where would be a good place for us to live together.
    Pretty please can I have a beta? If not in this round, in the next?

  16. Very nice! I suggest you also include bicycle facilities in your distance/amenity/affordability values. At the lower price ranges, that might identify more niches someone might consider within their budget.

  17. Fascinating, would love to havea play with this if offered. Would it tie with data on eg Zoopla? (such as house prices and aerial views)

  18. I’d second the bike info request. This is lovely – made me smile watching the vid – if any invites are available I’d love one. Good luck with it.

  19. Hi all, this is so cool, Stamen have really nailed the UI for exploration of cartographic datasets. For some strange reason I just love maps and can spend many happy hours exploring them in my imagination! Well done Francis and the team.

  20. Eric-the-Moose

    What a cool idea. Infinite possibilities for categories – Marcus Povey above has some great thoughts. In addition, how about some broad groupings with subcategories e.g. environmental – air quality,
    criminality – muggings, burglaries, police clear-up rates
    education – school league tables, university location
    recreational facilities – playing fields, parks, swimming pools, libraries
    transport – by type – trains, boats & planes (1hr flight as far as…), cycle lanes, public transport after midnight,car share schemes
    leisure – number of pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums
    hospitals – league tables, mrsa etc,
    political – majority party for national and local elections.

    Please consider me for a beta invite.
    Keep up the good work

  21. Lovely public service tool. Thank you. Looking forward to when I can enter my own central points – work, home etc – so the information becomes really useful to me. Is the aim to make this information freely available – or to charge for it?

  22. Brilliant. Would love to see it working on mobile devices – particularly the ability to interact with the data layers while you’re on the move experiencing the environments.

  23. To make this a true middle class wet dream, how about school league tables, catchment area (some local authorities give this) and house prices…

    It would also be useful to be able to overlay multiple searches, so I could find the areas that are less than an hour from both my office and my partner’s.

    Would love to be considered for an invite.

  24. nice work, Gents! When will you bring this stateside?!

    Ideally, I’d love to see functionality like this, as an add-on within google maps somehow. Google has a nice ‘real-estate’ layer that is fairly easy to play with. Using commute time data and school district data would be a helpful overlay on top of existing real-estate map sites.

  25. This looks Da Bomb. I’m moving to London to work at Heathrow in a few months time; any chance of a private beta so I don’t end up with the World’s Most Hideous Commute (TM)?


  26. Interesting mash up, with a really useful feature set.

    Any chance of an invite, as I will be moving in the next few months, and boy, will this help!

  27. Michael Humphrey

    Looks very interesting and as I work close to Westminster even the demo is useful and given me some ideas. Mainly that I can’t afford to live within 60 minutes commute. Eric-the-Mosse has identified a lot of things which I support, the main things I would like to see added /included are:
    cycling & walking times
    taxi cost
    Increased selection of house type. For example changing the average house price to prices by type (3 bed flat up to £250K).
    Consider including rental costs.
    Crime rates would be also be good to be able to filter by – or a broader ‘niceness’ factor similar to your scenicness

  28. Would love an invite to explore Mapumental, this is just plain awesome and I hope it can spread to cover metro areas the world over!!! Incredible work from what I can see in the video 🙂

  29. Wow, incredible mashup — would help a lot with the move coming up for me in a few months. Any plans to add a layer with rental price averages data? Cheers.

  30. using it for map based journey planning would be interesting, but not ideal. Xephos is best for finding timetables anyway. Except that London bus TTs are nonsense, which is why they don’t publish them. and/or journey times are distinctly iffy.

  31. very interesting stuff. voice over does not mention cycling as a form of transport to be included.. with 545,000 cycle commutes every day and a 107% increase in cycling numbers since 2000 any chance of a cycling overlay? i am forwarding the link to the team at the london cycling campaign to see if they have a data set that you could grab hold of…

  32. Hello, have had a play now (thanks for the invite) and would second the calls for the ability to put in two postcodes, and the inclusion of cycling travel times (and, I guess, walking, as you would need to ask cyclists to specify their average speed). Having put in some real examples I have to say I agree with those who have some doubts over the quality of the travel times in Greater London – my wife looked at how long it says it should take to get to her workplace and pointed out that this was impossible during the rush hour. TfL Journey Planner estimates tend to be a bit more honest.

    It was very fast on Saturday evening but very slow right now, with some tiles not loading at all. I don’t have any suggestions for additions just yet but those suggested here are moving in the right direction. But it is astonishing, well done, and I look forward to the inevitable Channel 4 programme in which people move to the area it tells them to live in!