The Tech City Map

Last week the government launched the Tech City map. It is not the first – there have been several previous maps, e.g. by the Guardian, of technology startups in the Old Street/Shoreditch area of London, but this is the highest profile one produced yet. I’m not sure whether a map itself is useful to the community but it serves perhaps to increase the identity and branding of the area – and awareness of it for the general public.

Incidentally, the area covered is also known as the Silicon Roundabout area, it often incorrectly referred to the Westminster set as “East London” (I would more term it as North-East inner-city London). I would consider more for the area around the Olympic Park to be true East London, i.e. east of Charing Cross, north of the river and east of the City – areas such as the East End, Stratford, Barking and West Ham.

As for the cartography, there has been some criticism by some people of the mass of straight blue lines, representing retweets of one company’s message by others. I prefer to see it as a piece of “art” showing the interconnectiveness of the organisations. No one’s trying to do serious quantitative impact work with this, it’s just for visual impact and identification of a new organically-created geographical area.

It’s nice also that the custom style functionality of Google Maps v3 API is being used – giving the streets a nice blue hue rather than the very familiar (and quite distracting) regular colours on Google Maps. Of course Google has recently introduced quite low limits (2500 map loads) for free usage of its custom style functionality, I wonder if this website eventually breaching such a limit if it gets hit with another blaze of publicity?

Perhaps the most exciting news that came out of last week’s announcements was that UCL, Imperial and Cisco are collaborating to build a new Future Cities research facility in the Tech City area, which would be focusing on urban modelling and technology. This is music to my ears – I’m not sure whether UCL CASA, the lab where I work, has plans ever have a presence there but it would be an amazing place to work. Maybe there will be a CASA East in the not too distant future?