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Digital map of pavement widths helps local authorities with social distancing

9 June 2020 | By Andrew Pring

Analysis by mapping and spatial analytics company Esri UK has found that most pavements around the country are less than 3m wide, making it difficult for pedestrians to remain 2m apart and follow government guidelines for social distancing.

Using measurements from Ordnance Survey, Esri UK has created a map of all pavement widths, discovering that only 30% of Great Britain’s pavements are at least 3m wide, 36% are between 2-3m and 34% are less than 2m wide.

The company has released the new map data for free to help the public sector and other organisations respond to government guidelines for social distancing, as councils adapt their infrastructure to make walking safer for the public. More than 40 local authorities are now using the data.

Esri UK created the interactive map using its ArcGIS mapping software, using the latest MasterMap Topography Layer from Ordnance Survey. OS MasterMap Topography Layer is the most detailed and accurate view of Great Britain’s landscape – from roads to fields, buildings, trees, fences, paths and more. Esri UK extracted all the pavements and applied different colours to identify different widths.

The map is part of Esri UK’s Covid-19 disaster response programme, created to provide any organisation with new mapping and analytical capabilities for free, to help manage their response to the pandemic. As well as gauging pavement width, local authorities are also using Esri's mapping and analysis tools to help adjust their service provision, map vulnerable communities, deploy volunteers and communicate with citizens.

Paul Clarke, head of Esri UK’s government practice, said: “By giving councils an instant view of the situation they’re faced with, the map reduces the time needed to manually measure pavements and also means they don’t have to rely on records which may be out of date. Easy access to current pavement width data will help all councils make faster decisions with greater certainty and ensure walking is as safe as possible.”

Local authorities and related organisations can access the map here.

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