If professionals working in a complex area such as climate change had visual ‘maps’ depicting their field, how might these help them? To answer this, The Young Foundation is one of six European partners in a three year project called EMAPS (Electronic Maps to Assist Public Science) which aims to create, explore the uses of, and share issue maps created from digital data revealing different perspectives on public issues. The project will focus on two controversies: ageing (during 2012) and climate change adaptation (in 2013-2014).

The idea of ‘issue mapping’ comes from the social sciences. There has already been a decade of work by researchers, using data from online sources to give a snapshot of what is happening in a field and what the important differences of opinion are. Examples of the data are entries in Wikipedia, blog posts, reports and websites, but also databases and academic research.

When researchers pull these together in different ways, they can be combined to show what is happening around a topic – an issue map. The Young Foundation’s role in the project includes finding professionals who might have uses for such maps, and working with them through participatory design methods to directly shape the design of the maps.