Thursday 24 May 2012

Crowdmap - getting started

This is my first post in my series on how to use the Crowdmap site to host your own Ushahidi map. Here I deal with the most basic account creation and configuration details. Future posts will describe an example implementation of a crowdmap.

A Crowdmap account is very easy to set up, all you need to do is go to the account creation page and enter details of your name and account email, together with a domain name and description for your first map. You can, of course, create other map deployments with the same account.

Once you have created the account you can log in with your email address and password. The first page you get after entering lists your Crowdmap deployments, and if you want to create additional maps then this is the place to do it. To work with a single map you select the "Admin Dashboard" option. As an example for these posts I have created a domain to map the 2012 European soccer championship, which begins in June.

The admin dashboard is the control panel for the management of your deployment. For initial configuration select the "Settings" option and the "Website" tab. 

There are far too many options on this tab to describe in this post, each item has a help description alongside it. The most important ones for getting started are those that set the email address for the site, the site language and the time zone. Also useful are those which set options on other users who can participate in managing the deployment, and which decide how information can be included in the map. Until the map is up and running most of these options can be changed without any visible side effects.

Next to the "Website" option on the site settings page is the "Map" tab. This is where you get to set the background map view which visitors to the site will see. The key decision is that of the map provider, current options are for ESRI, Bing, Google or Open Street Map. I'm choosing the latter for my example deployment, no user key is required and it's open data. Once that decision is made you can specify a default country, a centre point and a scale for the map view. The cluster option is useful for cases where  you might have multiple map events concentrated within a small area. The European championship is shared between Poland and Ukraine, so I have centred my map on the border between the two countries.

If you have configured your map correctly then you should see a confirmation of this at the top of your administration page. At the top left of this page you also have a link to the deployment page. Clicking on this you can see the effects of the configuration changes you make. 

My next post will describe how to configure and organize the data for the map.

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