A project led by Professor Richard Rodger in Economic History and the National Libraries of Scotland will produce a tool to display and analyse data on maps.
Using historical research on nineteenth century Edinburgh, the team will develop a web based application based on existing services such as Google Maps. The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will allow students, researchers as well as members of the public to input and manipulate data without having to learn advanced Geographic Information Systems.
Professor Rodger explains; “The list of cholera patients’ addresses in 1848 is entered in Hospital ledgers but, like entries in the Yellow Pages, making sense of the distribution of cases according to a list of addresses is hard even for those who know the city well. Running these tables of addresses through post-coding software renders the data in a form that, with scripting, can be imported to a scanned and geo-referenced map. Repeating the exercise for the next outbreak in 1867 would reveal the extent to which the same or different areas were affected and contribute to an assessment of how far policy measures, e.g., slum clearance, influenced the incidence of the disease.”
Similar analysis can be conducted on a wide range of topics as significant volumes of data related to health care, poverty and crime is given by address. The tool will be used in university research and teaching as well as made available to the general public, in particular local history groups around the country.
This article was published on Apr 21, 2010