Mapping Mobility Stockport

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About Open Data Manchester

Open Data Manchester CIC has been leading the way in open data practice since 2010. We advocate for responsible and intelligent data use for a fairer and more equitable society, and support individuals, communities and organisations to do so through a wide and varied programme. We are a not-for-profit organisation underpinned by a diverse community of expertise. This enables us to uniquely engage with a wide variety of stakeholders and clients, undertaking consultancy and advocacy work, deliver training and events, and developing state-of-the-art research and development programmes.

Project Background

The municipal environment often includes barriers that exclude people with restricted mobility. These barriers may be the result of natural topography, historic planning, deterioration of the urban environment or planned and unplanned maintenance. Some of the barriers may not be known to the local authority.

People with mobility impairments are often on the frontline when it comes to negotiating these obstacles, and often have their own knowledge and strategies in negotiating and circumventing them. This is a resource that could be invaluable in helping others who face similar challenges, as well as helping local authorities identify where interventions need to be made.

Mapping Mobility Stockport aimed to create a mobility map of Stockport town centre by working with Disability Stockport and Age UK Stockport to crowdsource geospatial data for the areas that these communities regularly use, the routes they take to access these areas, the obstacles and barriers they come across, and the things that work well.

As most of this information is contained tacitly within the communities themselves, we designed a series of workshops which would help share this knowledge. We wanted to ensure that we weren’t doing or designing FOR these communities, but WITH them, directly drawing upon their lived experience, so we co-designed a series of workshops and outdoor mapping expeditions with members from Disability Stockport and Age UK Stockport. Sessions were led by Open Data Manchester with Stockport Council.

Workshops were based around the Joy Diversion meetups that Open Data Manchester run throughout the year. In a Joy Diversion, participants use maps of Manchester and Salford from the 1800s, form teams and propose expeditions to explore the two cities. They venture out, find and map points of interest, before returning to share their findings. Although primarily a fun, family-centred event, these have been used by OpenStreetMap enthusiasts too, and the format provided a good starting point for the Mapping Mobility workshops.


This project proposes a practical methodology for collecting data and mapping experiences that is designed to be inclusive. Although it doesn’t yet incorporate tagging proposals, it recognises the need for a more in-depth mapping of the pavement and the experiences of those with mobility and accessibility impairments. It also takes into account that such impairments need to include a wider range from physical, neurological or visual, as these all have their own unique experiences. Moreover, it also recognises the important of ensuring that any consensus derived is in fact inclusive, and proposes that the only way to ensure this is be sure that such systems are being designed with these communities and not for them. Our own experience in this project, we hope, will start a conversation and be taken into account in future when mapping for mobility and accessibility.


To take into account the specific needs and requirements of the project participants, there were two types or ‘streams’ of workshops designed to account for different needs.

The first type of workshop consisted entirely of indoors sessions and made use of high-resolution printed maps provided by Stockport Council. We began by discussing areas and generating a list of obstructions and issues and beginning to identify particular areas of note. In between workshops, the facilitator took photographs of these to bring to the next session for clarification and to generate further analysis.

This naturally led into a deeper dive into the problem areas themselves. Participants began to share their experiences in more detail and describe routes that they take on a regular basis. These were marked down on the map and numbered. We wrote down details on Post-it notes with corresponding numbers. After each session, these features would be written up into a spreadsheet, with the identified spots photographed, brought back to a subsequent session for clarification and further investigation.

The second type of workshop consisted of outdoor expeditions with workshop participants, and it was from these that we sourced the most data and insight. Trips were weather dependent — due to parameters of the funding, the project began in January and finished in March, so we were at times rained or snowed off.

Participants were able to convey their experience of accessing Stockport across a broad range of impairments physical, neurological and visual. By organising individual expeditions, we were able to give more time and gather more in-depth data pertaining to each particular disability. Digital recorders were used throughout allowing participants to narrate their experiences during the expeditions.

Workshop plans and materials can be found on Open Data Manchester's resources Github repository.

Next steps

We are currently looking for funding to be able to pilot the methodology further in Stockport but also in other boroughs in the Greater Manchester area. We are interested in speaking with people or organisations who are working on similar projects or have suggestions and feedback. We are also keen to raise awareness and start a conversation with the wider OSM community about how we ensure experiences such as these are mapped in an inclusive way.

Feedback and Contact

To feedback/comment on the project, please use the discussion tab. For anything else, please contact Sam Milsom at