How we responded to Covid-19 in 36 hours

We may all be starting to feel the impact of Coronovirus on our mental and physical wellbeing. So we’ve pulled together a map of local voluntary and support services that can help us keep body and soul together. Organisations may not be running their usual face-to-face activities but they are getting creative and trying to meet residents’ needs with innovative alternatives. 

A small team rallied together and has been able to turn this map around in 36 hours, because of three factors: 

  1. a decision in HackIT to turn the original summer map prototype into a template with reuse at its core
  2. the existing Finding Support Services Near You project (sponsored by the City and Hackney Integrated Care Partnership) and its contacts with the voluntary sector and local organisations
  3. Hackney Council’s genuine commitment to flexible working that enables us all to work productively from home

The map’s look and feel is based on the Leaflet js library and HackIT pattern library (evolving from the GDS designs), which is a continuing project between our in-house design and front-end development teams. The technology behind the map came out of a collaboration between our GIS and front-end development team. They worked together on a new template that means we can spin out maps rapidly without having to edit any of the code, reducing the need for developer time.

The map template is open source on GitHub for reuse. Sharing is caring, after all. Especially now. 

Maps: not just for Summer

We are proud to present our new map for… Autumn! Now the nights are getting spookier and the leaves are turning brown, the Love Summer map was starting to look a little optimistic. The new map covers Halloween, Bonfire Night, half-term activities and bracing walks around the borough. Blow those cobwebs off and take a peek.

This is the culmination of just two weeks’ work from Liz Harrison’s GIS team of Sandrine Balley and Marta Villalobos, with front-end development help from Emma Lewis. And not forgetting Wing’s determination to seek user feedback from unsuspecting visitors to London Fields playground.

We’re continuing to refine the design and functionality of these maps and now have a template that we can increasingly turn to any use. Watch out for more Love maps soon.

Screenshot of Love Autumn map
Screenshot of Love Autumn map

Love Summer map now live!

Breaking News! Now live at

Explore summer in Hackney with our map of playgrounds, pools, picnic areas, drinking fountains, walking routes and m
Explore summer in Hackney with our map of playgrounds, pools, picnic areas, drinking fountains, walking routes and more.

We’ve just finished a four week side-gig to get the best out of the fantastic resource that is Map.Hackney. While it’s a valuable tool for urban planning, it also holds hidden gems such as locations of drinking fountains, wildflower meadows, paddling pools and quietways. Which we want to shout about.

With an assembled team of a mapping expert, user researcher, developer, designer and deliverer, we kicked off our sandals and took the idea to the people. Our first stop was London Fields, where we interrupted unsuspecting bystanders to ask what they like to do in summer in the city.

Out of this research came four personas that we hoped would resonate with people. The one who likes to hang out with friends in the park and play ping-pong (‘Chilling’); the one who wants to keep the kids occupied for an hour (‘Playing’); the one who wants headspace while meandering through the streets (‘Wandering’); and the one who wants to create their own summer (‘Everything’).

With a wireframe best described as no-fi, the team was able to spin out a prototype faster than ice melts in a mojito. More research yielded great feedback: are the blue lines rivers? [cycle paths]; is that a bus route? [Hackney boundary]; can you see cafes in parks [heck, yes!]. All this was iterated back into the prototype. If you click on the slides, you can try it out for yourself via the QR code.

We all learnt something on this project. For some, it was the first experience of Agile working; for others, GIS was a whole new world; still more were introduced to GitHub. But the learning curve never felt too steep.

We’ve still got some end-to-end testing and colour contrasts to work out but we’re ready for our Monday launch. Let the summer begin!