The Geoservice has named the map Stemwegwijzer (Voting guide). It serves as a navigational program for voters. People can open the website on their cell phone or computer and pick a polling station from the map, which presents them with instructions on how to get there.
‘It took a bit of work, but the results are great’, say Govert Schoof, project manager of Geographic Information Systems. For weeks, he and his nine colleagues scoured municipal websites in their spare time and evenings, looking for the addresses of all the polling stations. They did it simply because they were interested in providing it, because there was no proper information to be found about polling stations in the Netherlands.
‘There is no central listing, so we had to gather the data ourselves and enter it by hand’, says Schoof. The Geoservice analyses and visualises data for scientists in Groningen. ‘But also for the rest of the world. So we feel we need to proactively provide proper data’, according to Schoof.
‘Sometimes municipalities would have lists we could easily copy. Sometimes they only had a few names and we had to find the matching addresses ourselves’, the project manager says. They checked the addresses and used the Basic Register of Addresses and Buildings to link them to coordinates. ‘We’d find out that 90 percent would be in the correct spot and the remaining 10 percent wasn’t, so we had to check everything. But that has resulted in a really good website that is accessible to anyone.’
The Geoservice also made a printable map for each municipality for people to use. But the data has also been used to show which municipalities have the most polling stations, or which neighbourhoods have no polling stations at all. This data is freely available for anyone to download and use for other purposes.
Schoof: ‘Next we’re going to offer the map to people. It’d be great if the NOS were to link to the website to let people know that they can use it to find their way on election day.’