Southampton Open Data Blog

Quick Update

July 28, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

IWMW: Dave & I have been away at IWMW 2011, learning and promoting the Southampton Open Data Service. A key message we’ve been pushing is to make sure the data providers get a return on their investment. If they don’t get a value to themselves or their users, why should they care? Very positive response from many people. I think the tipping point is upon us, finally!

Google Map: A few people have commented how the road on the Google Map goes right through building 85. I’ve put a report into teleatlas who provide that data and apparently a fix is in the works!

Bus Stops: I’ve added some neat new things to the sidebar [example]. A link to a fullscreen version of the bus times info, suitable for display screens (I think this would be nice in the NOC lobby), and also cut-and-paste code to add the bus times to your own pages, using an iframe.

Ask the SPARQL Monkey

July 26, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

We had a neat idea the other day, to offer a “ask the SPARQL Monkey” service, which you can request we create you a custom query over the Southampton data service, eg. lat+long and building name of all buildings containing a vending machine(!). Please make requests as comments on this post for now. We can’t promise we can address your requests, but we’ll have a go. One of the output options is CSV which loads right into Microsoft Excel.

Also, if anyone feels artistics, we’re looking for an illustration of the SPARQL Monkey which we can put on a corner of the data homepage to advertise this service.

ps. This offer is open to anyone (not just Southampton people) who’s interested in working with our data and would like an XML, CSV or JSON version of some of it.


July 20, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

Executive Summary: data.southampton now has little +Share links which let you share the current page via your favorite social network. ShareNice does not track the pages you visit.

We have added sharenice links to data.southampton (see the +Share link near the top of each page). This is a tool developed by Mischa Tuffield, who studied at Southampton but now works for the firm Garlik.

The reason we have picked this service is partly that it’s useful, sufficient and easy to add, but there’s several social similar services, but this one is run by Mischa, who has made a positive reputations for himself with his concerns over the way tools like this can be used to track visitors. Most notably, his comments on the fact that the NHS could be exposing site visitors to having their page views tracked by Facebook. These comments resulted in an MP asking questions.

Quick Sunday Update

July 17, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

First of all, I’ve also just added a new post over at the web team blog which might be interesting to our readers on the data blog, if you’ve ever been confused about the relationship between Open Data, Linked Data and RDF Data.

Secondly, I’ve just added in the sameAs links between our bus-stop data and I should have done this months ago, but kept forgetting. It’s up now and I imagine Hugh Glaser will import them into the service which will allow you to discover our data on Southampton bus-stops by resolving the government ID for a bus-stop in (maybe we’ll link to a demo, as I don’t think I explained that very well!)

** UPDATE **: Turns out my sameAs links were wrong, but Colin has created a full set which also links our codes for train stations and I’ve added in the airport. I’ve published it as a separate linkset.

Lastly, I asked a few keys staff for comments about the value of Open Data, and here’s a great one:

The Open Day map, based on open data, amazed so many of our visitors, is was great example of how our leading edge research has translated into a very real an practical application, second only to Soton Bus!

— University of Southampton Pro Vice-Chancellor Education, Professor Debra Humphris

The open days pages aren’t actually linked from the data.southampton homepage; but they aren’t secret, just only valuable for the period of the now-passed event.

Bus Route Updates

July 13, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

The Southampton ROMANSE project has given us the go-ahead to put the Southampton bus times data under the OGL (Open Government License).

In celebration, I’ve added a new bus routes page to better navigate this data.

If you look deep in the data, sometimes the data identifies the exact vehicle which is coming.

I admit the RDF is shonky, is anybody working on an ontology about  that should get in touch!

Open Linked Catering

July 12, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

I’m excited that we’re about to launch the new university catering website, with added linked data features! These features show what the opening hours for points-of-service run by catering, including the halls, and also a product search which lets you search all products from the university (including those from other retailers).

“As a Caterer I am often quoting that ‘I bake bread, I don’t do IT!’ we like to keep it simple and this is exactly what Open data does for us. We can use formats and software we are used to and manage up to date real time information. This will ensure we are keeping customers up to date with information that they want. There is more to come as well and in Catering we have designed our whole web site and marketing strategy around the Open Data technology, watch this space Catering is catching up.”

– James Leeming
University of Southampton Retail Catering Manager

Visit our new catering site at:

A Tale of Two Maps

July 6, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

One of the university researchers, Rich Treves, blogs in the field of map usability and has posted an article comparing Colin’s OpenDataMap with the universities existing map, designed a few years back by the late cartography team.

It’s important to point out that Colin built his map for fun, with no resources or training, so he shouldn’t feel bad it’s not as pretty as one made by award-winning professional cartographers!

On a side note; I noticed yesterday that many university buildings have 3D models on Google Earth… I wonder if there’s a mashup we could do making a 3D data map?

So, thanks for the ideas, Rich, but there’s nothing stopping you taking the data and making your own maps *grin*…