In order for an Open Data platform to have any sustainability it must have a community around it that consumes its data, be that the public or developers creating applications that people then use. This second CodeTheCity event saw that community begin to form around the MatchTheCity platform.
This is a short tale of how I took another city’s data in order to expand the information we can provide for people / apps to consume. It also acts as a warning as to some of the unexpected side effects of using automatically generated data that has not been checked by a human.
The initial test Open311 server was deployed to Heroku. However it was now time to install it on its own server. The reasons for this were two fold:
- Heroku does not allow the FTP access required for the live data updates to be uploaded.
- To do a test run of the server setup process for when it comes to roll out the production server.
Disclaimer: This blog post is as much a reminder to myself as to a helpful guide to others in getting everything setup. It is possible I’ve missed some steps out that I just performed whilst in autopilot after doing it many times. It did take several failed attempts and hours of Googling in order to find all the steps required.
Back in May of this year I was involved in the planning for the inaugural CodeTheCity event that was to take place in Aberdeen the following month. Initially the event was going to be billed as another hackathon-type event doing stuff with Aberdeen-based open data. However, between the five of us who were putting the event together we decided to drop the reference to the hackathon term and to make it more approachable, more attractive even, to the non-developer community. As well as involving local (and further afield) developers, we also wanted to involve the community in Aberdeen to ensure they got something out of it that they actually wanted. This led to the CodeTheCity name idea. Not only was it perfect for Aberdeen but could easily be re-run in other cities around the world under the same umbrella.
We now have the data, time to do something pretty with it.
Throughout the Open Data Scotland Code for Europe project so far the names of various APIs and server technologies have been thrown about – usually rapidly followed by the questions of:
- So what is it?
- What’s the difference between A and B?
- Do we need A if we use B and how does adding C affect it all?
- Can we download it or do we have to write it?
- Where’s it going to be hosted?
As anyone who has even vaguely glanced into the world of software knows, part of it is working on what you know and a big part of it is exploring and learning new things – a learning that often includes failing at something so it can be eliminated from the list before trying a new approach.
Even though I’ve been professionally developing software for 20 years there is always a lot more to learn and experience. No matter what project you are working or who you are working for, everyone benefits from your learning. Last week I was given the opportunity to learn something new in the form of the Lean UX Bootcamp run by Spencer Turner.