Neighbourhood Fix It - Telling the council where to fix it!

Matthew Somerville of always delivers great stage presentations - the style and the content is always compelling.

His Barcamp London 2 presentation was on Neighbourhood fix-it, an incredibly simple way of letting your local council know of problems such as potholes, litter, street furniture that needs fixing, graffiti, or fly tipping. Initially developed as a pilot involving two London councils, Newham and Lewisham, Matthew realised that by changing one line of the code it would work for the entire country.

The website uses Ordinance Survey maps using the Yahoo! javascript library to scroll around. As the work was done for the Dept. of Constitutional Affairs, MySociety avoided having to pay the extortionate licence fees to Ordinance Survey which are a min of £20k pa.

It's amazingly simple to you - you specify a place, then click on a point within the map and a form appears that you fill in which is routed off to the relevant council via email. If that Authority is not by the service, it suggests that you contact the Council and propose that they include themselves.

Tom Reynolds is similarly impressed.

Matthew also mentioned about some of the other projects they've done including Travel time maps - heat maps identifying journey times.

As for Matthew himself, he has done some amazing stuff which you can peruse on his website, Dracos. My favourite is the BBC News Front Page Archive which you can search for old stories. An excellent feature is the timeline to watch how a story has changed, which has an impressive interface, and which allows you to navigate directly to the original story.

Entertainingly, the BBC got in touch with Matthew to ask him for copies of his archive for days in July 2005 of the London bombings, because they apparently don't archive them but had been asked for copies by the Police. Seemingly, content management systems are not a feature of the BBC.

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