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Uses for Land Explorer

Tom Kenny

This post covers some ways in which we think people might use our new map-based platform Land Explorer. Let us know what you think.

Land Explorer is designed to engage anyone who is interested in learning more about the land around them. However here are some suggestions of particular ways in which we think people might use this tool. Some of these use cases are more developed in the current version than others, and we will seek to develop these and others in response to user feedback.

Finding land: The first step for each common good land user is to find land. Land Explorer allows users to explore the area around them, looking at key things that impact site choice, for example the suitability of the land for agriculture and its likelihood of flooding. In later versions we want to integrate the capacity for landowners to list land they are willing to share, and for existing projects to publicise their project to potential volunteers.

Understanding the land in your local area: We have found that many people have poor awareness of environmental features around them. Land Explorer aims to provide a simple overview of key information on land, for example the location of key agricultural land, areas covered by particular planning requirements, and basic topographical features. In future versions we hope to enable users to produce analyses of data for particular areas. We hope this information will inspire users to get more involved in land management.

Site planning: For land users who already have a site, we think Land Explorer can help with site planning. For example deciding where to build infrastructure given flood history and terrain. In future versions we hope to integrate data that can help people decide what crops to plant, or where to place solar panels to get the most sunlight.

Informing funding and planning applications: Strong applications require evidence and we think Land Explorer can help people accumulate information on land to support their applications. In the future we hope to integrate more local information – for example local policy and historical planning applications.

Local and neighbourhood planning: We think Land Explorer can help with communities planning developments in their local area. Where to put space for community activities? What land to protect from development? Land Explorer aims to help with all of this.

Protecting environmental and community assets: Users can identify land near them in need of protection, and find evidence to support their campaigns. For example the value of the food growing project Grow Heathrow becomes clear, when you see it is protecting an isolated island of Grade 1 agricultural land in a sea of urban sprawl. In later versions we hope to upload more data which users can employ to highlight environmental concerns.

Future uses:

  • Mapping and analysing land ownership in the UK. As and when more ownership information is made available by the Land Registry we hope to make it available. We are also interested in crowdsourcing ownership information.
  • Helping local authorities and other large landowners get their data to people who can use it for the common good.  We want to work with local areas to make their data as accessible as possible.
  • Networking and publicity for land-based social enterprises. We want land-based groups to be able to use Land Explorer to promote their projects and network with each other.

Do you have another reason for using Land Explorer? If one of the above applies to you, what features would help Land Explorer meet your needs better? We’re keen to identify everyone who can benefit from this tool, and what kind of features would make it most useful for them. If you have any ideas please share them with us by filling in this short form: https://goo.gl/forms/9M4LxYAqvF8sOexu2

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