We’ve been working with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) recently on a vernacular geography project, collecting up the names (or nicknames) that people use locally. Our Research department created a new system, FINTAN, to collect the information which can be used to help improve emergency responses.
If you picture someone on the coast calling in an emergency, they won’t often know their exact location, and there won’t be road names or postcodes around to help them out either. They may know the nickname for the beach they’re on rather than the official name, or there may be nicknames for rocks off the coast – but they wouldn’t be marked on a standard map.
FINTAN has been successfully trialled at the MCA’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) at Clyde, Solent, Holyhead and Stornoway and is going to be rolled out across all MRCCs over the coming months. Staff add local names for beaches, rocks, waterways and other features onto the existing mapping data through FINTAN, something which is of interest and benefit to both organisations and the public. FINTAN includes 1:50 000 Scale Gazetteer, 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster and OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 to form a search facility for the Agency to use.
FINTAN could provide the answer to a common challenge for both us and the MCA in collecting information on the names people use to describe places that aren’t commonly shown on mapping data or exist within gazetteers. As the Coastguard moves towards a national maritime operations centre, there’s also a greater emphasis on capturing local knowledge to support emergency response and coordination functions.
For us, our Research department have long recognised the strength of local knowledge and have been investigating the building of an “alternative gazetteer” through crowd-sourcing that references local nicknames and could include, for example, a popular name for a road junction or bridge. You might also have ready about our collaboration with The English Project, through Location Lingo.
The next phase is to test and check the added names in FINTAN and to work with local organisations such as sailing clubs to see if more coastal knowledge can be gleaned.
Images produced courtesy of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency