For Victoria, the 2014 Election marked a period of debate and discussion within households, throughout the media and across the wider community, particularly in relation to road and rail infrastructure. Yet within this debate, there were limited ways of understanding how these issues potentially impacted the vote of electorates.
Creating itsyourvote.com.au , Spatial Vision converted election issue discussions into an interactive web-based map tool that provided a clear spatial representation of Victorian demographics and infrastructure proposals. This information was presented in the context of estimated seat margins based on the 2010 results using new seat boundaries (by Antony Green). Using the internet, members of the public could readily access interactive online maps which provided a view of community issues and their relationship to electorates, such as rail road crossing removal proposals, or a higher density of younger voters or the unemployed, in relation to more marginal seats.
“We looked at which issues were important in key marginal seats and converted this information into an intelligent visual format. We showed how we could use spatial information to tell an important story,” says Spatial Vision GIS and Mapping Services Manager Stephen Farrell.
The visualisation tool utilised CartoDB, a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud computing platform enabling GIS and web mapping tools to be shown in a web browser.
“Moving to the Internet and onto the Cloud, interactive mapping is now widely accessible. What was once quite difficult to publish for the public is now fairly easy” says Farrell.
Adapting the 2014 Victorian Election project to apply to other Australian regions in late January, Spatial Vision turned its attention to Queensland, ahead of the 2015 Election. In the week leading up to the Queensland Election on January 31, Spatial Vision quickly put together a view of where key marginal seats were situated in relation to current areas of higher unemployment or unemployment change, and created the qld.itsyourvote.com.au interactive map, again illustrating how some of the stories behind the State’s politics could be better shared.
Looking to the future, Spatial Vision envisages many applications for this innovative technology to better communicate issues or ways in which they are being tackled.
“With a more informed and engaged community there is a greater need than ever for government and other groups to better communicate and account for their programs and the outcomes. Tools like this can only improve such a process and benefit the broader community”, says Farrell.