Predicting the planning process

by Dave Barter on

I spent many years working in the financial and marketing data industry and during my time there learnt a thing or two about profiling. I'm sure that it's news to nobody that a huge variety of services exist allowing companies to profile their customers and also geographical areas. Using such services you can safely predict who'll be up for buying your widget and who'd rather you sold them a rake instead (sorry can't help my Swindon roots).

Now I'm working in "location" and about to launch a service designed to crowdsource map based data and opinion. If you're interested then get yourself over here and sign up for our beta that should be out next week. We've been working in crowdsourcing for a while now with clients in local government, the leisure industry and also quite a large player in digital mapping. This has given us (anonymised) data concerning the public's use of such services and their reaction to consultations presented to them.

This data got me thinking, could I correlate it with other location data and come up with a set of predictors? So I loaded it into our database and set about it with a whole set of algorithms. The results were interesting, and whilst my sample set is admittedly relatively small I found some clear correlations between location demographics and a set of propensities. I tested these nationally and they appear to work which has got me all excited as I can now predict:-

  • propensity to view a consultation
  • propensity to engage with it (ie. add a comment or up/down vote)
  • propensity to like/dislike a specific set of subjects (highly biased to transport consultations at present which is where our data is focused)

Here's propensity to view applied to Swindon. The greener the area the more likely to view, the red areas not so likely. As you can see south of the railway is where the action is.


We're going to be taking this a lot further as we expand Geovey into a freely available crowdsourcing engine. As a result I'd be very interested in talking to anyone involved in the planning process. What do you think of my idea? I think that in many cases planning has real parallels with sales and a pre-consultation feel for the outcome would have huge benefit to developers and planning authorities alike.

Or maybe you're just interested in crowdsourcing/public engagement, and if so sign up for our beta now

Predicting the planning process

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