Tuesday 26 June 2012

Crowdmap - managing the map

In my previous post I described how to do the basic configuration of a crowdmap. The next step is to manage the way in which data will be presented on the map. Information on a crowdmap can come from a variety of sources. It is possible for visitors to the map to submit reports either directly through the map page or via other means such as Twitter or SMS. In addition, those who are managing the map can submit their own reports as administrators and can add news feeds that contain useful information. 

The reports on the map can be divided by categories, which in turn can contain their own sub categories. For the example map which I am using for these posts, based on the 2012 European soccer championship, I have created categories for the games to be played, the participating countries, the venues where games are hosted, and for general news items. Any single report can be associated with multiple categories, the idea is to manage the information so that visitors can easily find what they are looking for on a map displaying multiple reports.

To create a new category all you need to do is define a name, a description, the parent of the category and a colour or image.

For my example map I decided to associate an image of the national flag for each participating country to the category for that country. This means that reports associated to this category are displayed on the map using the image instead of a colour.

In the category list on the right hand side of the main map the newly created categories should be visible. When a user of the map selects one of these categories they should only see on the map those reports which belong to the selected category.

I am also going to add to my map some news feeds. To add a news feed you need to have the correct link for the feed. The items on the news feeds added will be refreshed automatically and displayed underneath the map. It is also possible to convert an item from a news feed into a report that will be displayed on the map.

With news sources and categories defined the map is now ready to display information. A report for the map consists of a title, a description, a date, the definition of the categories to which the report belongs and of course a location on the map. To view reports on the administration page you need to open the "Reports" tab. Reports are paged, with the most recent listed first. It is also possible to view those reports which are still awaiting approval. All reports submitted by visitors to the map are approved by the map administrators who can also define whether the information in the report has been verified or not. It is the approval which decides when a report is displayed on the map.

All news sources, images or video associated to the report can be added at the moment of creation, or later as more information becomes available. The new report created in the example above can now be viewed on the map. Clicking on an item on the map opens an information box about that item. Depending on whether you have configured reports to be clustered together, this information box may contain a link to several reports located close to each other. 

To see the full report content the map user clicks on the link for "More Information".

To create a new report using an item from the news feeds, the first step is to find the item in the list for the feed.

Each item has a link beside it which allows the administrator(s) to create a report on the map. If the news feed contains location information then this will permit the report to be located automatically on the report creation page. The news source is also added automatically, but the administrator must define the categories to which this item will belong.

The map now contains information and news. In my next post I will describe some additional features which enhance the appearance and functionality of the crowdmap.

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