Amy Barron ( School of Environment, Education and Development), David Dobson, Jaime Garcia Iglesias and Jessica Mancuso (School of Social Sciences) launched an ESRC-funded research project on people’s memories of Manchester’s Gay Village and hopes for the future (to inform public policy on redevelopment). The initial plan was to collect the data in person but the advent of COVID-19 forced them to adapt it to an online site. This is where Research IT came in to help. .
The site was developed by two of our Research Software Engineers (RSEs), Joshua Woodcock and Louise Lever. They worked with the researchers to develop a site that would match their original data collection idea via an online form with options to submit a memory of the Gay Village, hope for the future or both! As well as a title and story content fields, the submission form includes an interactive map for people to mark where the memory took place, or the place they are submitting a hope for the future for.
After submission the stories are moderated, and when approved, markers are visible on the homepage map, and the person who submitted the story receives an email to tell them their story is live. Hopefully in four to six months time the researchers are looking at doing an associated event to launch the findings.
The site was developed using Django (a Python based web framework), Wagtail CMS (a content management system built on Django) with custom functionality added by Research IT. The team in Research IT have developed multiple websites over the last few years and we will be launching that as a specific Web Application Development Service in due course.
While we have a web framework with a content management system, our goal is not to provide basic websites for researchers - who should continue to use all existing services offered at the University - but instead deliver web applications that have a bespoke requirement e.g., interactive map of stories, COVID/Cancer diagnostic tool with visualization.