Map based canvass planning (on a shoestring!)

During much of 2014 we were heavily involved in the design and development of a sophisticated canvassing system that was used extensively through out the Scottish Referendum on Independence campaign.

One aspect of the Referendum project that we found of particular interest was the creation of a map based canvass planning tool that allowed campaign organisers to define "walk lists" to target households in specific streets. The system combined data from the electoral register for Scotland with data collected by canvassers to ensure that households were not visitted by canvass volunteers more than once within a given period to prevent the canvass volunteers being perceived as nuisance visitors.

At the heart of the system was two key Microsoft technologies - Bing Maps and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The web application itself was written in PHP and Javascript and provided a map driven means of performing geospatial queries on the Microsoft CRM. Geospatial querying is not part of the Microsoft CRM featureset so we developed a number of custom plugins in Microsoft C# to augment the CRM functionality.

The licencing restrictions imposed Microsoft and the sensitivity of the electoral register data used means we are unfortunately unable to showcase the final solution here.

However, given that many of our clients are "not for profit" or "start up" companies and have very limited software development budgets we thought it would be interesting to see whether we could create something similar using Open Street Maps. Interestingly the proof of concept we ended up with below is more responsive and in many ways better reflects the feedback of users that used the original version. Much of the improved responsiveness is due to use of more modern web technologies that replace PHP and the Microsoft components.

Of course as with any proof of concept that leverages free third party services there will occasionally be "availability" issues that affect this demo.

For more information, including a technical discussion, read our blog post Map based canvass planning on a shoestring


e.g. westerlands drive, newton mearns
Walk list