1. Which ward will you be in on May 4?

    It’s that time of year again. Local elections are on the 4th of May and we have updated our boundary change checker. It also helpfully lets you know if your ward is not having elections (not that your author was unaware of course.)

    On May 4th elections will be taking place across English, Welsh and Scottish councils as well as the the elections for the new ‘combined authority’ Mayors.

    Ward boundaries are changing

    You might think you already know where to vote, and who’s standing for election in your area.

    But both are dictated by which ward you live in — and that may not be the one you’re used to, thanks to ongoing changes in ward boundaries.

    There’s no need to worry, though. As before, we’ve got the data that will tell you whether your ward has changed. Just enter your postcode here.

    Once again the Democracy Club’s project Who Can I Vote For? will allow you to see whatever information is available for candidates in your ward.

    Image: Roger (CC by-sa/2.0)

  2. Meet the new-ish MapIt

    MapIt has had a bit of a refresh to bring the look into line with the rest of the mySociety projects. At the same time, we thought we’d take the opportunity to make it a bit easier for non-technical folk to understand what it offers, and to make the pricing a little less opaque.

     

    New MapIt homepage from mySociety

     

    You may not be familiar with MapIt, but all the same, if you’ve ever found your MP on TheyWorkForYou, written to your representatives on WriteToThem, or reported an issue through FixMyStreet, you’re a MapIt user!

    That’s because MapIt does the heavy lifting in the background when you enter a postcode or location, matching that input to the boundaries it falls within (ward, constituency, borough, etc). It is, if you like, the geographic glue that holds mySociety services together.

    What MapIt does

    Like most of mySociety’s software offerings, MapIt is available for others to use. So for example, the GOV.UK website uses it to put users in touch with the right council for a number of services, and Prostate Cancer UK uses it on their campaign site, using MapIt’s knowledge of CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) region boundaries.

    And you can use MapIt too: if your app or website needs to connect UK locations with areas like constituencies or counties, it will save you a lot of time and effort.

    Simple payment

    Pricing and payment is a lot slicker now: while it was previously managed manually, you can now purchase what you need online, quickly and without the need for human intervention. It’s also quite simple to see the pricing options laid out.

    We hope that this will make it easier for people to make use of the service, and better understand what level of usage they need. But if you need to experiment, there’s a free ‘sandbox’ to play about with!

    As ever, we’re happy to provide significant discounts for charity and non-profit projects: see more details on the licensing page.

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    The new MapIt pricing

     

    If you have any questions or comments please do get in touch.

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  3. Better Cities beginnings

    As Mark mentioned last month I have recently joined mySociety as Product Manager in the Better Cities team. This is something of a departure for me as I have spent most of my career working for large, publicly funded institutions — places like the Office for National Statistics, Medical Research Council and Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs to name but three.

    That said a large part of all those roles was trying to convince colleagues of the benefits of using the kind of products and services organisations like mySociety provide so maybe it isn’t that big a leap after all.

    It has been a long held ambition of mine to work for mySociety — looking back it was almost 10 years ago when I first mentioned them/us on my blog and the organisation has been a consistent influence on me ever since with a number of former staff, trustees and volunteers becoming friends and colleagues over the intervening years.

    It was my gateway to the wider world of the ‘civic tech’ community to which I have been a proud contributor for many years now — most recently mainly through running a weekly jobs list for public service minded organisations seeking digital staff.

    At the moment I am primarily focused on learning as much as I can about our FixMyStreet platform (including the ‘..for Councils’ product) and investigating the MapIt service as well. As I get up to speed with things I am also taking the opportunity to get about and about — attending events and trying to meet people who make use of our projects.

    In the weeks to come I’ll be attending MeasureCamp in Cardiff (4th February), giving a talk at World IA Day in Manchester (18th February), speaking at BathHacked on the 22nd February (Bath), helping out at day one of Open Data Camp in Cardiff (25th February), going to ProductCampon the 4th March (London) and giving a lightning talk at the launch of the new Tech4Good group in Bristol on the 23rd March. All this as well as hosting my regular ‘minimal viable meet-up’ on the 8th February in Bristol.

    If you are attending any of these events please and want to chat ‘Better Cities’, civic tech or just want to get hold of one of our lovely stickers please come and say hi — there are rarely any other attendees who sound as Bristolian as I do so I am usually easy to find. Also if there are any events you’d like to suggest I attend — either to give a talk about the mySociety ‘Better Cities’ work or just generally an opportunity for me to learn more about how people are using digital tools to engage with and influence local democracy please do let me know.

    I am @jukesie on Twitter (be warned — I am something of a prolific tweeter!) and my email is matt@mysociety.org so please get in touch.