How the Warwickshire iPhone App will lead to open data

7

January 8, 2010 by Jim Morton

In an exciting, albeit slightly unexpected move, Apple cleared the Warwickshire iPhone application for download from iTunes on Christmas Eve. As such my planned multimedia blitzkrieg to publicise the launch was completely stuffed.

Now that everyone is back at work we have started to promote this new approach to our staff and citizens through our web site (www.warwickshire.gov.uk/iphone) and via a twitter account (www.twitter.com/wcciphone), there will also be more traditional internal communications and press releases being sent out. The app itself can be downloaded for free from http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/warwickshire/id345904759?mt=8

Although the focus of this project has bee the actual iPhone app, the real point behind this work has been to act as a stimulus for starting to provide data in open formats and in a universal manner. To this end we have been using a series of RSS feeds and XML web services to expose information on a subset of WCC’s information and services.

Now that this model is in place there are two key aims in the short term:

  1. Expose more information so that we can feed a greater variety of services to the iPhone application and hopefully provide some richer functions.
  2. Establish a set of standards for exposing data from WCC and establish an open data web presence for the authority – enabling anyone who is interested to make use of our data for their own analysis, applications or web sites.

This project is underway and I hope to have something visible to the public around the end of February. Priority areas for opening up data are going to be around geographical and democratic info. Despite these initial priorities, we are keen to hear from anyone who has other ideas on the type of information that should be made available.

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7 thoughts on “How the Warwickshire iPhone App will lead to open data

  1. Tim Hobbs says:

    This looks like a fantastic app and a great way to connect people to their government.

    Do you intend to get data back from the crowd through this application? The location-aware nature of the iPhone opens up the possibility of reporting potholes, graffiti, overflowing bottle banks and the like. Suddenly everyone works for the council!

  2. Jim Morton says:

    Definitely interested in looking at how we can crowdsource information from our citizens, your example of incident/problem reporting would be great – I’ll add it to our list of requirements for version 2.

  3. That’s a smart approach – show what can be done with the data you already have and use that to get more data out of people. Nice idea!

    Really liking the app though and it’s definitely planted some ideas in my head!

  4. Top50Q&A-App says:

    nice app…i alwyas look for new ways to engage my customers, this is anice app…good luck

  5. Dave Coplin says:

    So I love the app (although obviously I’ve _never_ used an iPhone). Interested in the next steps though, and building on both Tim and Stuart’s comments – have you had any thoughts about creating the (public) data repository that would sit behind this and other similar apps? Seems to me this would be a good thing to have and expose to data.gov.uk.

    What do you think?

  6. Jim Morton says:

    Dave, nice to hear from you. As mentioned in point 2 above the work to define and build such a repository is underway and we hope to have something up in the next six to eight weeks. Currently we are working on defining the standards and methods for exposing and publishing data – there is an outline of the areas we are adressing on our wiki: http://abigbang.wikidot.com/opendata-project-plan-of-action plus there are a whole load of links and resources at: http://abigbang.wikidot.com/opendata-list-of-resources

    We are definitely interested in any emerging shared standards or ideas across the public sector for defining shared semantics or creating linked data, hopefully this sort of guidance will start to emerge soon. At the moment a lot of dat.gov.uk seems to be signposting to individual data sets managed in many different ways.

    I should be knocking up a blog post on the work we are doing and what it will provide to both the public and the development of our internal architecture early next week. Any questions though give me a shout. Or feel free to pop in and buy us a coffee.

  7. […] How the Warwickshire iPhone App will lead to open data […]

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