House of the Commons Mapathon

On Saturday Oct 1st I attended the House of the Commons Mapathon held at Oxford Brookes University. This was designed to kick-start the House of the Commons 2016 series of events which will run throughout October 2016.

The day was run by Charlie Fisher (from Transition By Design) and colleagues, and started with an introductory talk by Andy Wightman, an MSP with the Scottish Green Party and author of ‘Who Owns Scotland’, ‘Community Land Rights: A Citizens Guide’ and ‘The Poor Had No Lawyers’. Andy was followed by a series of speakers who introduced the data, issues and work done to date outside of the Mapathon.

The attendees split themselves into three groups centred around Energy, Food and Housing. I was helping direct the technical aspects of spatial data and GIS on the Housing table, and it was an incredibly informative experience. Every table had an hour or two to discuss ideas, before starting to investigate the data. Although a number of ideas came to the fore, it was decided that the housing group should focus on issues around updating the Oxford Greenbelt area (see the featured image for this blog).

The gist of the idea was that Oxford needs more housing, but has little opportunity within the ring-road for development. There are valid arguments to make about the regeneration and reuse of land within the ring-road, but the group made the assumption that the greenbelt could be updated using various spatial, thematic data layers. Personally, I value the greenbelt and would be concerned if it was eroded too much, but I can also see the pragmatists view that certain areas could be lost to development for housing.


Although there was not enough time on the day to really get into the data processing side of this, I thought that it was an interest idea and an exercise that would be worth undertaking, if only as an academic exercise.

House of the Commons 2016 kicks-off on the 21st October and all the details can be found on their website. Updates from House of the Commons are available through their Twitter account.