On information accessibility

The city of Montreal decided to inform residents of a boil-water advisory using a 7mb PDF in a tweet. An openstreetsmap is attached to make it a bit easier.


Update: The original tweet has been updated to include a more appropriate map image. #4ward

We endeavour to make our street and paths accessible, but what does it mean to make the information about our cities accessible as well?

The city of Montreal informed residents of a boil-water advisory via the following tweet:

There are several problems with this.

  • There’s no link to the equivalent English version of the tweet.
  • >7MB PDF is too large a file to reasonably download for residents on low-bandwidth connections of mobile devices.
  • PDFs take additional software to view
  • The map has no frame of reference – how does one know where they are?
  • There is no usable data included (eg GEOJSON) to allow other developers to make a more usable open map.
  • The map isn’t “north-up” situated, nor does it include an icon. It requires a user to orient themselves in their minds only.

You must boil tap water (bringing it to a full rolling boil) for at least one minute before drinking it, or use bottled water instead.

Quand un avis d’ébullition est émis par les autorités, vous devez faire bouillir l’eau du robinet à gros bouillons pendant au moins une minute avant de la consommer ou utiliser de l’eau embouteillée.

City of Montreal – http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=6497,102961582&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Included here is an equivalent OpenStreetMap with a Polygon layer that approximates the advisory area given by the City of Montreal. Tweet @4wardca if you’d like the GEOJSON data.

Let’s work towards making important information more accessible, and usable, to city residents.