Introducing the new Public Map tool for Parish Online

Introducing the new Public Map tool for Parish Online

Parish Online has a new, highly demanded feature; the ability to embed interactive maps on your council website. We’re calling it the ‘Public Map’ tool, and it’s available to ALL Parish Online subscribers at no additional cost.

 

Introducing the Public Map tool

 

Why have we made the Public Map?

Communication between a public body and the public is important, and what we’ve learnt through the years of providing mapping to Local Councils is that maps can inform and engage people much more than a paragraph of text can. So, by creating an easy way to publish maps this new tool can revolutionise your council’s ability to share information to the public in a proactive, modern and transparent way. It also has the potential to save a lot of time and effort taken up by council staff by allowing the public to self-serve to find information without having to email or call (this is called ‘Channel Shift’, see LGA article on cost savings, typically £8 for a face-to-face visit vs 15p for an online visit.). This is just another way your Parish Online subscription saves your council time and money in real terms.

Here's a Public Map from our demo Parish Online account embedded in this webpage to show you what it actually is:

 

How do I use the Public Map?

If you’ve got layers of information that you want to share to the public you can use the new easy-to-use workflow where you simply select those layers and the tool generates the code you need to put in your website. Whenever you update the information in your Parish Online account, those changes will be reflected immediately on your website. You can create multiple Public Maps (see ideas below) so each one can tell the story you want to present.

As well as publishing your own information, the Public Map allows you to include some of the in-built layers in Parish Online. So it could be used to publish your own neighbourhood plan information as well as constraints such as ancient woodland or listed buildings to show how your plan considers these factors.

We've got a Knowledge Base article on how to use it, and also a video:

 

How do I get the Public Map on my website?

Editing a website can sometimes feel like a daunting process, so we’ve added information to our Knowledge Base to help you through the process. The Knowledge Base article shows you how you can do it yourself, or if your website is managed by someone else all you need to do it copy it and send it to your webmaster.

We’re sure that, just like Parish Online itself, our subscribers will find imaginative and powerful ways to use the new tool. Here are a few examples of how we think it could be used:

  • For displaying particular Neighbourhood Plan layers
  • Showing the location of the parish office
  • Showing the location of your green spaces and playground assets
  • Publishing popular walking routes
  • Highlighting road closures for events
  • Showing the location of tree-planting initiatives
  • Plot safe walking and cycling routes for school children
  • Show the areas covered by volunteers and staff for Shielding projects

 

Get started now!

If you’re a Parish Online subscriber already, this tool is available in the Admin Panel ready for you to use. If you don’t currently have a subscription then you can take advantage of our free trial period to test it out. And remember, you can get a Parish Online subscription paid for by BHIB Councils Insurance when taking out or renewing your policy with them.

 

The not-so-small print

Here are some answers to questions we expect to get about this new tool:

 

Is access to this tool free for a limited time?

No, the Public Map is included as part of your Parish Online subscription so there’s no extra cost.

 

I want to share a layer but it’s got personal information in it, what do I do?

We’ve thought about that. In your layer settings you can now set specific fields (columns) of information to be hidden to the public when a layer is published in a Public Map. This means you can put all the detailed information you want in the layer and only publish what’s necessary or useful to the public.

 

Is there a limit to the number of Public Maps I can put on our website?

No, the more the merrier. If you want to publish different Public Maps on different pages then that’s fine with us.

 

If I remove a layer from my Parish Online account, will it stay on the Public Map?

No, it’ll simply be removed from the list of available layers in whatever Public Map it’s in.

 

Is the Public Map accessible?

Yes (as much as a map can be accessible). You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate the map.

 

Will my Public Maps work if our Parish Online subscription lapses?

Sadly not, your Public Maps are directly linked to your Parish Online subscription, so you'll need an active subscription to take advantage of the Public Map tool.

 

We've got a dedicated neighbourhood plan website, can we put Public Maps on there instead of our own council website?

Yes, we don't mind which websites your Public Maps go on.

 

Anything else I need to know?

Yes, one more thing. The Public Map doesn't work well in the Safari browser at the moment (we're working on that, but there's some things that Safari do that are weird/broken). We've put this as a known issue in the Knowledge Base and as technology evolves and improves we'll find a solution.


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