open data

CivicCamp3D and #yycdata

I have another post in the works but I was just at this so I thought I should attempt to work with the momentum.

Today I went to my first CivicCamp! It was very exciting, and I’m really glad that the Getting-Things-Done experts in that organization can be available to offer advice. That’s where ideas I have fall apart; I’m just never sure how to spread the idea and get others to help me. I have a project I want to get going which would be an occasional space / time for artists to test their works in progress (it was inspired by the Calgary Science Centre‘s Prototypers — how had I not found their blog before?!). I haven’t done a good job of getting it off the ground because I don’t really know where to start and then I don’t try the things that may or may not work. I’m hoping to set that aside and just bite the bullet and start getting it out. Let me know if you want more info or have suggestions for me or are interested in the idea!

It was really great to see Nenshi come and give us a pep talk and let us know that there will be civic engagement fairs (online and in person) in January (I think?). That will be really awesome (and help with the homework he gaves us, which was to get someone who’s not engaged with city life engaged).

I went to the Open Data breakout group lead by Grant Neufeld with Shawn Kao, Mark Zaugg, Kirsten YB, and a few others (if you were there let me know how to get in touch now!). We had a great discussion about what needs to be done — continued support and use of the open data provided as well as demanding more and liasing with the City as well as citizens on the topic. After CivicCamp3D, I did manage to go to the Open Data Day Hackathon (see #yycdata). Lots of use were not programmers — in which I guess I include myself with my patchwork of skills / background.The crowd was different at the afternoon session as it had been disseminated previously in general but most of the people in the discussion group couldn’t stick around.

I chose the open data group because I think the possibilities for creating art experiences that can transform how Calgarians understand the city would be really supported by artists having access to live, open data about the city. What we have right now — mostly maps or parks and stuff and bus schedules — isn’t particularly inspiring, but when we have another layer to mash, it’ll be great. We could also use unofficial data to start off with. Here’s the current selection

The discussion was great, gave me a lot more detail about the issues and the reasons we have the data we have. We talked about some of the apps we wanted to see — particularly Art Proctor‘s Arts & Culture app was discussed at length and made into a subgroup, and a “Why isn’t my street ploughed” app was discussed. We all committed to coming up with app ideas on #yycdata.

My initial idea was a “Will I miss my bus” app. DJ Kelly pointed out that we need the GPS system that’s coming to the buses before we can really do it, which is true, but I was thinking of implementing it using the GPS / locational info from the phone. Obviously it wouldn’t be as accurate as it will be with the real data, but given your current location, would it be possible to guess a likely current route the rider’s on (and allow them to choose if there’s many possibilities, which would be likely), use expected stop time / trip time from time point to time point, and the expected departure times of the connecting bus (which the rider would need to pick, or a set of connecting routes they could use), and then see if they’ll make any of the connections.

… Then again it might be simpler to wait until the GPSes are on the buses, but I’m not sure how long that would take.

There are some links and resources I’ll be looking at while I’m finalizing the rest of my ideas (I had a few other inklings):

Another idea would be to mash up the restaurant inspection sites with a map of the city and urban spoon reviews (which wouldn’t require the data that’s really been released), and maybe an app for donating to charities that help the homeless in the city whenever you walk by someone panhandling? That would not require any data at all, really. If it exists already let me know!

Also, I found some experimentation sites and tools for creating mobile and web apps. Some of these are more advanced than others:

Note about linking: I decided to link mostly to twitter accounts because looking at websites, some were election-based and some were pretty far out of date, so I thought twitter accounts were more relevant.