February 26, 2010 by Jim Morton
In the last month or so we have shamelessly used the iPhone project as a way of kicking off the slightly less sexy, but ultimately much more fulfilling work on open data.
Although we originally wanted something available by the start of March, work has taken slightly longer than anticipated. However things are looking really good and hopefully we will soon be able to join the likes of Lichfield and London in the open data revolution. I can also reveal that we will be running some sort of exciting contest – more sketchy details below.
The main outcome I want us to achieve is establishing a web presence to provide access to the data as well as a framework of standards and processes for getting the data up there, making sure it is in the right formats and ensuring that it is properly maintained.
- Defining the formats and standards for data. There is some detail on the types of stuff that the chaps have been working on at http://abigbang.wikidot.com/opendata-project-plan-of-action. As well as defining the authority’s technical approach to open data we also want to start to follow the same standards for our internal systems and data stores – helping to improve efficiency and contribute to our nascent service oriented approach to applicatiuon development.
- Establishing a database to manage the sets of data. This includes a standard XML schema for the metadata that we will associate with each data set – working this way will help in enforcing good practice for data governance and version control. Additionally we will be able to automatically publish an RSS feed when new data sets are added or existing stuff is amended.
- Building a web presence to hold the actual data sets and act as a front end for all users. This will be set up as an adjunct to the Warwickshire web site but will be hosted in the cloud in order to contribute further to the development of our infrastructure strategy. It is highly likely that we will use Ruby on Rails as the platform.
The other thing we have to sort out is how to engage with the audience and ensure that we are providing a useful service. To this end Kate Sahota (twitter: @808kate) is working on setting up a user community (which will hopefully mirror the sort of thing seen at: http://www.datato.org/app/) as well as running the aforementioned “Hack Warwickshire” competition, open to all, where exciting prizes will be up for grabs for the people who can develop the best applications using the data and services that we make available. More details very soon indeed.