5 Ways Open Data Is Improving Lives in Bath
This guest post originally appeared on Bath: Hacked, a joint council/community initiative in Bath, United Kingdom, which aims to use open data to spark ideas and influence decision-making. Read on for a peek into the many apps, maps, games, and sites that help make living — or visiting — the city a better experience.
We thought it was high time we put together a list of useful things made by local developers, all of which are powered by open data. Read on to see our short list of free applications.
1. Get a head start on school applications
While the new school year has only just started, we’re not that far away from the next cycle of school applications. The Bath Mums school admissions mash-up was the first local open data powered application. And based on our usage statistics, it and the other open data powered features on Bath Mums are still the most popular with parents and the local community. Make sure to also look over their handy reference to other facts and figures, which includes a link to this useful summary of Bath primary school admissions data.
2. Power up your life about town
We love it when developers ship brilliantly useful things that help people solve an immediate problem or answer a simple question. And we’ve got a small, but growing, number of these apps for you to use.
If you’re coming into town you can now choose from Android, iPhone, or one of several mobile web apps to help you find that elusive parking space. If you’re feeling energetic instead, then you can use this iPhone app to find a NextBike to cycle around the city in style.
While you’re in town and deciding where to have that spot of lunch, use Bath Food to see which places have the best hygiene ratings. And if that spot of lunch should turn into an afternoon and then an evening in the pub, well then this iPhone app will tell you where you can squeeze in just one more drink. (And should you get caught short on the way, we’ve got you covered).
Been away for the weekend instead? Well, when you get back, why not check to see if your plants need a water?
3. Be the most informed in the comment section
Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or the dark corners of the comments section of the Chronicle, Bathonians love a good debate. At Bath: Hacked we think it’s a good thing to have an informed, open discussion about local issues. Now, while we unfortunately don’t (yet?!) have data on traffic, seagull counts, or buskers, we do have some useful facts and figures for the informed commentator about town.
Check out the live and historical air quality figures using these dials on the B&NES website, or simply watch the whole things unfold on Air Lapse. (Tip: be sure to wait to see what happens on bonfire night).
Or, if planning is more your thing, find the most interesting applications by following the Bath Planning Twitter feed.
4. Get to know the local area using these striking maps
We love maps. We especially love maps that use data to tell us something interesting about the local area.
For example does this map match your understanding of the local community and districts? (You can read more about it here). Or you could get some insight into the economic growth of the area using this animated map showing new businesses being created. Visualising the location of traffic accidents might help you drive more safely. Or just frown at how much it’ll cost you to buy a new house.
Failing that, why not just explore the local area? In minecraft.
5. Take a trip back in time
You can’t move in Bath without tripping over a bit of heritage. The stuff is everywhere. Unsurprisingly we’ve got data about some of it.
You can explore how areas of the city looked in the past using our historical maps, some of which haven’t previously been freely available online. Take a flight over the area with this aerial photography from the last century, or get down to earth with a then and now perspective of some selected views of Bath.
Finally, this map (I told you we love maps!) will let you explore old drawings, paintings, and archive videos of the local area. See if you can find the Flower People visiting Sydney Park in 1967. Or discover what the Orange Grove looked like in 1736. It’s all there.
In our project archives you can find other proof of concepts and ideas that the Bath: Hacked community have worked on during our hack days. But not all of these are finished or polished up and ready for prime time.
So, if you’re a local developer or designer why not join us and share your skills to make useful things for the local area? As one member put it: “I’ve lived in the area for a long time, it’s time to put something back.” That’s a sentiment we can get behind.
Read more about Bath:Hacked in our case study on the community-led open data program. And if you’re eager to reconnect with data-savvy leaders in person, join us at the 2015 Customer Summit, where more than 500 government technology practitioners and innovators will gather to have open and honest conversations about the future of digital government.