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Spotlight: Vote to map

Indian general elections 2009 have taken the map-route. For the first time, the Election Commission of India, print and electronic media in the world’s largest democracy are using this visual element of maps and mashups in a big way to display, compare, analyse election related news and results.

The elections, held in five phases spread over a period of one month, will elect 543 members to its 15th Parliament. On its part, the Election Commission of India (www.eci.nic.in) has published detailed maps of the regions that go for polling in each of the phases, along with state and constituency maps Phase_Map.pdf and . 199/ecimaps/ecipdf/state_pc_Map/an dhrapradesh.pdf ). From time to time, Election Commission has made several online applications possible for displaying results and data analysis. It encourages the use of open software and freeware like IrfanView for Imaging, GRASS, MapServer, Google Maps API etc. for GIS.

It has provided all the raw material for the user to make best use of the same and come out with different mashups and analyses.

For example, it has given the sample code for mashing up data using Google Maps APIs, shape files depicting the boundaries of all Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies and XML files of the latitude-longitude points of all constituencies.

One of country’s top media houses, Hindustan Times, has tied up with Google to provide most up-to-date election related information, news and analysis through interactive maps. sabha2009/ ). One can look for constituency statistics, development data, demographic information, MP profiles, candidate quotes, polling booth locations and much more, all personalised to viewer’s location or choice. Taking the cue, The Times of India, another leading English newspaper, teamed up with MapmyIndia to value add its services using maps.

Not to stay behind, BBC is providing extensive coverage of Indian elections using ‘Elections battleground map’ (https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia /7968638.stm) to give information on election dates and the issues affecting the voters in key states.

Media apart, several organisations and NGOS have taken the map-route to create awareness and monitor poll related activity on the Web. Ushahidi, the crowdsourcing crisis information platform produced a citizen-driven election monitoring platform for the 2009 elections called Vote Report India ). Vote Report India partnered with citizens’ networks, human rights organisations and journalists to contribute direct SMS, email and web reports on pollrelated violations. It is aggregating these direct reports with news reports, blog posts, photos, videos and tweets related to the elections from all relevant sources, in one place, on a Google Map.

Criminalisation of politics is a major issue in Indian elections. To educate the electorate, Mibazaar has come up with a Google Maps mashup showing the Indian Members of Parliament who have pending criminal cases against them . html). Maps of India released a series of poll-related information maps on its website. All this and much more to enable the Indian voter make an informed choice!

MapmyIndia, provider of navigable maps in India, has launched public service website . com to help voters make an informed choice on issues that matter to them during the elections. Combining the power of MapmyIndia’s detailed and highly accurate India maps with exhaustive data on constituencies, like population, literacy ratio, area amongst others and information on parties, candidates and their track record, the elections website places a wealth of information and analysis for voters to refer to. This also has an analysis page, where visitors can slice and dice data as they like and bring up statistics like oldest and youngest MPs in the 2004 parliament, number of women candidates elected in the previous polls, public record of candidates, number of constituencies per city, social details about constituencies like working population, area and literate population amongst others.

So, with all the map-education happening around, the Indian electorate is better placed to make an informed choice in voting their representatives for the next five years!