The British Heart Foundation is the nation's heart charity. The Foundation’s vision is a world where people don't die prematurely from heart disease.
BHF believe this will be achieved through pioneering research, vital prevention activity and ensuring quality care and support for everyone living with heart disease. The Foundation was founded in 1961 by a group of medical professionals wanting to fund extra research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and circulatory disease. As a UK charity BHF is governed by a board of trustees who volunteer their time to help direct the BHF’s work. They oversee Directors who in turn manage the staff across the whole organisation.
From Directors and Trustees to employees and volunteers based across the UK, BHF coordinates the work of thousands of people helping to beat heart disease.
Many aspects of the BFH’s work involve local communities. Information on facilities and activities ranging from healthcare professionals, support groups and BHF offices through to fundraising events, volunteer groups and shops all needs to be communicated with an emphasis on their locality.
A range of mapping applications had been developed for the BHF website to address this need and over time had met with significant success. However developments had been tactical and used a fee based service provided Multimap. With the use of maps expected to grow, the costs of this solution were becoming an obstacle to achieving the BHF’s plans for their website in this respect.
BHF needed a more strategic mapping solution; one that integrated better with the website content management system but that didn’t incur the ongoing costs associated with the original developments. BHF therefore turned to the free mapping service available from Google and the expertise of Unified Solutions to design and develop the solution they required.
The solution delivers comprehensive mapping facilities for the BHF website. By entering their postcode or name of their town visitors are able to search for BHF services that are within easy reach. Results are displayed as points on the map with visitors able to zoom in and out; click on an item to view additional details or request directions from their starting location. Other useful geographic information can also be displayed, such as the area around a shop in which collections can be arranged.
Behind the scenes facilities are provided which allow BHF to manage the plethora of information that is needed to furnish this deceptively simple search functionality. Extensive import capabilities are provided so that information can be uploaded from other systems and applications. Every item that is added to the website automatically has the correct ‘Geo-code’ associated with it during the upload so that it can be displayed at the right location on the map. This has allowed BHF to quickly populate the website with a vast amount of information important to their website audience.
As well as searching the map for existing items, BHF fundraisers are able to submit details of events in their area which they would like to be displayed on the website. These requests pass directly into the content management systems workflow so that they can be checked and approved by a BHF website editor before they appear.
All facilities are enabled as ‘plug-in’ modules for the Alterian Content Management System used by BHF. This means that these mapping capabilities can be simply ‘dropped’ onto any page of the website and additional content created around the map by BHF’s team of website editors.
The solution developed has provided the BHF with the strategic mapping solution it requires. Audience response to the mapping features has been so positive that it has now been promoted to the homepage of the newly designed website launched in December 2010.
With the first phase of the application in place and the supporting information loaded BHF now intend to enter a second phase of development to extend the mapping capabilities of their website into many other areas where this approach will be valuable.