Mapping for local projects

We’ve been working with maps for more than 25 years, so it’s a pleasant surprise when we receive requests we’ve never had before.

Recently, we were contacted by a company responsible for organising charity door knockers. They needed A4 printed maps of postcode sectors to pass to ground staff showing street level detail. This would enable them to use maps at a local level to plan fundraising routes and clearly define territories for each agent. Historically, they were using a map maker to manually create these, however as the company grew, this was becoming too time consuming and expensive.

Even working at our fastest to a set template, we could manually create a map perhaps every 5 minutes. At this rate covering a quarter of the 9,544 postal sectors in the UK would take around 200 hours or 28 full days (assuming a 7 hour working day). Fortunately, we already have automated processes in place to mass-produce maps based off templates in our GIS, Prospex, so we set to work making the modifications for this project.

The map template we used was as follows:

  • Centred and named by the postcode sector
  • Neighbouring sectors slightly faded out with boundaries shown
  • Lowest level of background map applied
  • Household count for the sector included

We conducted a few test runs and found that scalability was becoming an issue. Sectors in cities are typically 0 - 4 mi2, which produces a detailed map like this:

DN2 5 example postcode sector map

HA1 1 example postcode sector map.

We decided to split the sectors in 2 batches, standard sizes and large (anything greater than 8mi2) and set the exported maps to run. The standard maps looked great and printed well at A4, typically showing detail of street names. The resolution was even high enough to print at A3 if required.

The large maps were exported as 8 x A4 images. We then used a seperate in-house program to rejoin the images to 1 high resolution large sector (meaning we could print it up to A2 print scale). Digitally, this image could be zoomed in on and remain detailed enough for street name level. This image “stitching” function is one specialty of our Prospex GIS, but we were able to do this on the client’s behalf without them needing to invest in a full geographic information system.

Finally, we hosted all 9,243 maps on our unlimited cloud storage and categorised into sub folders of areas (e.g. YO). This allows the client to easily access and download the images when required. These maps are now available to draw upon whenever the client needs them, whether that is to prospect in a new area, or recruit and train a new fundraiser.

The images remain generic, and stocking an image for every postcode sector in the UK with detail down to street level can be beneficial for all kinds of users. Now that we have done the hard work, we can make these maps available for anyone to use, whether to illustrate a local area for a community group or project, or even just to decorate a wall with a detailed image of the neighbourhood. If you’d like one for your area, please get in touch and we can share a free sample.

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