Category Archives: Techie

Setting up the test Open311 server on Ubuntu

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.

Continue reading

OKFestival 2014 Reflections

During our visit to Berlin to catch up with other Code for Europe fellows we decided to hang on for a few days and attend the Open Knowledge Festival.

Oh, if you’re not familiar with the organisation behind the event, the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), is a non-profit organisation which advocates openness in all forms e.g. open-access, data, and content.

In attendance were government officials, academics, journalists, developers, activists, and people from non-profits just like OKFN itself. To give you an idea of what went on, I’ve written about a few of the sessions I attended below. Continue reading

Getting started with CKAN

As I’ve written about before, one of the main tasks the code fellows will be doing is setting up open data platforms. We’ve seen what can be achieved at the national level with data.gov and data.gov.uk which are both powered by CKAN. In Amsterdam, the code fellows were introduced to another platform, CitySDK.

citysdk logo and appshotCKAN and CitySDK offer different approaches and advantages for organisations opening their data. CitySDK mandates data follow a certain format. In contrast, CKAN functions as a portal. Data can be hosted anywhere, in any format, so it’s up to the data owners to look after it appropriately. Continue reading

Making the data look pretty

We now have the data, time to do something pretty with it.

As part of my Code for Europe project, I have setup a proof of concept Open311 server on Heroku that provides a subset of the data that we intend to have opened up by the end of the project. For now it simply returns some XML about the car parks in Aberdeen. The XML is formatted to match the Open311 API specification. As I’m currently working to release a Minimum Viable Product I’ve not gone as far as providing an optional JSON version of the output. As of the time of writing it is only the name and location of each car park that is returned. However, once a live feed of car park occupancy is made available behind the scenes then the server will be upgraded to present it as Open Data.

Continue reading

How it all fits together

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.

Continue reading