Cyberpresse, which spent quite a bit of effort creating an interactive Google map of 2008 federal election results by individual poll, has decided to release it in English after seeing how popular it became in English Canada.
The web application allows the user to choose any riding in Canada and see a colour-coded map of how each poll in that riding voted. In even the smallest riding – Papineau in Montreal – you can see the breakdown of votes: Solid red in Park Extension, and mostly blue in Villeray before trending back red in St. Michel.
Large residences that have their own poll are represented by large squares (mostly red, because old people vote Liberal). Ties and polls with no results are marked with white.
It’s an impressive feat of programming, but the fact that Cyberpresse has produced English content is the most interesting part of this. It was a trivial move – the data is already bilingual – but I can’t recall a previous instance of this kind of thing happening before.
Other media outlets (at least those with the resources to produce major projects like this) should take note: The Internet allows you to expand your audience far beyond your regular readership, and language can sometimes be much less of a barrier than you might think.
UPDATE: Cedric Sam, who created the map, said it took him about a week and involved some code he recycled from previous projects.
Perhaps the best feature we had for the Cyberpresse and didn’t on the previous projects was the fallback on Google Maps. It means all the people on work computer, tablets, can visit and use the website.
I coded a program in Python that generates KML, the Google Earth format. Then, Google Maps reads this as well and displays it.