Open Data Camp Day 1


If I don’t post a few notes from today’s Open Data Camp now, I never will, so here are a few things I scribbled down- it could be worse, I could have posted a PDF containing photos of the the actual scribbles!

So out of this choice

odcamp-sessions

…I picked, Open Data for Elections, Open Addresses, Data Literacy, Designing Laws using Open Data, and Augmented Reality for Walkers.

Open Data for Elections

I’ve been following @floppy‘s crazy plan to get elected for a while, so this was the easiest decision of the day: what drives someone to embrace the gory inner workings of democracy like this?

Falling turnout it would seem, and concern for a functioning democracy.

The first step of his journey was the Open Politics Manifesto, which I’ve so far failed to edit- must try harder.

Perhaps more interesting was how this, and use of open data, fits into a political platform as a service. It would be nice to have the opportunity to see a few additions to the usual suspects at the ballot box, and Eastleigh got a rare chance to see what that could be like with a by election. Perhaps open data services for candidates could tip he balance enough to encourage more people to stand.

Things that sounded interesting:

  • Democracy Club
  • OpenCorporates
  • Data Packages
  • Open data certificates (food hygiene certificates for data?)
  • Candidates get one free leaflet delivery by Royal Mail- I wonder how big they expect those leaflets to be!

Open Addresses

@floppy and @giacecco introduced the (huge) problems they need to overcome to rebuild a large data set without polluting that data with any sources with intellectual property restrictions. Open Addresses still have a long way to go and there were comments about how long Open Street Map has been around, and it still has gaps.

They have some fun ideas about crowd sourcing address data (high vis jacket required) and there are some interesting philosophical questions around consent for addresses to be added.

It will be interesting to see whether Open Addresses can get enough data to provide real value, and what services they build.

Data Literacy

Mark and Laura led a discussion around data literacy founded in the observation that competent people, with all the skills you could reasonably expect them to have, still struggle with handling data sets.

Who needs to be data literate? Data scientists? Data professionals? Everyone?

Data plumbers? There were some analogies with actual plumbers! You might not be a plumber but it’s useful to know something about it.

If we live in a data driven society, we should know how to ask the right questions. Need domain expertise and technical expertise.

Things that sounded interesting:

Designing Laws using Open Data

@johnlsheridan pointed out that the least interesting thing to do with legislation is to publish it and went on to share some fascinating insights into the building blocks of statute law. It sounds like the slippery language used in legislation boils down to a small number of design patterns built with simple building blocks, such as a duty along with a claim right, and so on.

Knowing these building blocks makes it easier to get the gist of what laws are trying to achieve, helps navigate statutes, and could give policy makers a more reliable way to effect a goal.

For example, it’s easier to make sense of the legislation covering supply of gas, and it’s possible to identify where there may be problems. The gas regulator has a duty to protect the interests of consumers by promoting competition, but that’s a weak duty without a clear claim right to enforce it.

John also demonstrated a tool – http://ngrams.elasticbeanstalk.com – exploring how the language used in legislation has changed over time, for example how the use of “shall” has declined and been replaced by “is to be”.

Augmented Reality for Walkers

My choice of Android tablet was largely based on what might work reasonably well for maps and augmented reality, so I seized this opportunity!

Nick Whitelegg described the Hikar Android app he’s been working on, which is intended to help hikers follow paths by overlaying map data on a live camera feed.

The data is a combination of Open Street Map mapping data, with Ordnance Survey height data, which is downloaded and cached as tiles around your current location. Open GL is used to overlay a 3D view of the map data on the live camera feed, using the Android sensor APIs to detect the device’s rotation.

I’ve just downloaded and installed Hikar and, while my tablet is a tad slow, it works really well. I live somewhere flat and boring but the height data made a noticeable difference when Nick demonstrated the app in hilly Winchester.

Still to come: Day 2!

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Intermission


At the risk of stating the obvious, I’m having a short summer break from blogging, mostly due to an ongoing project to buy a new house. That’s not exactly been going smoothly, so when we do eventually move I’m sure there’ll be a few posts on the subject! Until then I’m wondering whether to blog at all, and perhaps stock up a few posts for a new season, or just stick to the odd short ramble. Here are a few bite size updates from the last few weeks for example…

It seems a bit like I’ve spent every spare minute on Rightmove but investigating house locations has been the perfect opportunity for a spot of mapping; after initial success with Open Street Map, I’ve made a few more edits. I did think the map was pretty complete where I live but on closer inspection there are actually quite a few details missing.

I’ve also spent a bit of blogging time playing with Google+ instead. Meh. I think the most interesting thing has been the discussions around using your real name, but that issue is not exactly unique to Google+.

Exploring the Android Market looking for apps that will work on the Joggler has been a welcome distraction. Need to add a few more to that list, including my new favourite clock. I’m impressed with how well the Joggler has taken to it’s new life as an Android device, but it is somewhat tied the wall, so I’m seriously tempted to buy a ‘proper’ tablet. I’m sticking to my dumb phone so I want something portable enough to make it out of the house on a regular basis. For a budget option the Andy Pad seems like it might be worth a look, except that I’d want to try before buying, and now there are rumours about a Samsung Q mini tablet/giant phone, except that’s not going to be cheap at all!

And we’ve been on holiday to Germany, which was much more fun than any of the above.

Need another holiday already though!

Putting The Berry Theatre on the map


I don’t go to the theatre that often but this week was slightly unusual: two different theatres, two nights in a row, one of which is brand new. It was The Berry Theatre‘s gala opening evening tonight, which was excellent, but that’s not exactly what this post is about.

Being brand new, I was hoping that it would provide an opportunity to do something I’ve been meaning to try for a while and, sure enough, the theatre wasn’t in OpenStreetMap yet! So, armed with a dangerous amount of knowledge gained during Nick‘s enthusiastic OSM presentations yesterday, I fired up JOSM and contributed my first node.

Update: and as if by magic, The Berry Theatre appeared on the rendered map! (10 April 2011)

Updated: added link to Nick’s presentations. (9 July 2011)