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James Smith

Building a better future out of code

Political Cartography

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One thing you really need to know when standing as a candidate is what areas are actually part of your constituency. Constituencies are pretty weird shapes, especially out in the country, and the area is probably larger than you think. So, time to find out for sure.

Fortunately the Ordnance Survey makes this easy. Their Election Maps service shows all the constituency, ward, and other boundaries you might want in a nice map format. Enter your constituency name in the box, choose the right one, and you get something like this (apologies for the screenshot, there’s no way to embed):

Horsham constituency OS map

Now, what I really want is a map on my wall that I can refer to easily. The Election Maps service does have a print option, but it’s just to print a single page yourself, and no way is that good enough for what I want.

Fortunately, OS come to the rescue again with their custom map printing. Unfortunately, there’s no link on the election maps to “order a custom map of this area” (which would be awesome, OS, if you’re listening) so we have to do it manually.

In my case, I found a point roughly in the middle of the constituency’s bounding box, Lower Beeding, and I found that at Landranger scale (1:50000), the whole constituency would fit on one map. This probably won’t always be the case, but it worked for me. £16.99 and 5 days later, and I have an 80x80cm wall map of my constituency is hanging on my wall:

Horsham constituency wall map

Unfortunately, that custom map doesn’t include the boundary of the constituency, so I had to draw it on with a highlighter pen, but it’s not a bad solution.

Note: I tried to do this using OpenStreetMap, but I just couldn’t work out how. If anyone knows, then please tell me, I’d love to have a method of using the open data in OSM to plan my campaigning :)

Another note: Election boundaries are STUPID. Whoever decided some of those shapes…


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