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May 04 2010

15:14

UK General Election 2010 – Interactive Maps and Swingometers

Tony Hirst takes a look at how different news websites are using interactivity to present different possibilities in the UK election. This post is cross-posted from the OUseful.Info blog:

So it seems like the General Election has been a Good Thing for the news media’s interactive developer teams… Here’s a quick round up of some of the interactives I’ve found…

First up, the BBC’s interactive election seat calculator:

BBC election interactive

This lets you set the percentage vote polled by each party and it will try to predict the outcome…

The Guardian swingometer lets you play with swing from any two of the three big parties to the third:

Guardian swingometer

The Daily Telegraph swingometer lets you look at swing between any two parties…

Telegraph election map

The Economist also lets you explore pairwise swings

Economist - election map

The Times doesn’t really let you do much at all… and I wonder �" is Ladbrokes in there as product placement?!

Time election interactive

Sky doesn’t go in for modeling or prediction, it’s more of just a constituency browser

Sky Election Map

The Sun probably has Tiffany, 23…

From elsewhere, this swingometer from the Charts & numbers �" UK Election 2010 blog lets you model swings between the various parties

Swingometer

As to what swing is? It’s defined in this Parliamentary briefing doc [PDF]

April 20 2010

08:56

Telegraph launches powerful election database

The Telegraph have finally launched – in beta – the election database I’ve been waiting for since the expenses scandal broke. And it’s rather lovely.

Starting with the obvious part (skip to the next section for the really interesting bit): the database allows you to search by postcode, candidate or constituency, or to navigate by zooming, moving and clicking on a political map of the UK.

Searches take you to a page on an individual candidate or a constituency. For the former you get a biography, details on their profession and education (for instance, private or state, oxbridge, redbrick or neither), as well as email, website and Twitter page. Not only is there a link to their place in the Telegraph’s ‘Expenses Files’ – but also a link to their allowances page on Parliament.uk.

Constituency pages feature a raft of stats, the names of candidates (not many at the moment), and the swing needed to change control.

At the moment both have ‘Related stories’ but these are only related in the loosest sense for the moment. And there is a link to the election map and swingometer that The Telegraph built previously.

Advanced search

All of which is nice but not earth-shattering. Where the database really comes into its own is with the Advanced Search feature.

This is so powerful that the main issue may turn out to be usability. I’m not sure myself of everything it can do at the moment but apart from the fundamentals of actually finding a candidate, this allows you to filter all the candidates in the database based on everything from what type of education they had, to their age, gender, profession, county and role (i.e. contesting, defending, standing for the first time or again). The Swingometer filter also appears to let you filter based on who wins as a result of predicted swings (not just Lab-Con but Con-Lib and Lab-Lib)

The site is still rough around the edges – it appears that the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Grieve went to “Lyc‚àö¬©e Fran‚àö√üais Charles de Gaulle” and ’Oxbridge University’, while the link to his website is missing a ‘http://’ and so doesn’t work.

Data geeks will be disappointed that the data doesn’t appear to be mashable, and there obviously isn’t an API. The Telegraph’s Marcus Warren tells me that they are looking at mashups for after the election, but for the moment are focusing on researching candidates.

That seems a sensible move. The MPs’ expenses scandal may turn out not just to be the biggest story of the last decade, but the foundation of a political database to rival any other news organisation. The Telegraph have a real strength here and it’s good to see them building on it.

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