Southampton Open Data Blog

Return on Investment

November 25, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

This is something I’ve been banging on about all year. We all tell people that open data is a Good Thing, but we don’t really provide any rewards for it. Search engines do — if you mark up your pages maybe they will do something with your content, maybe not.

RSS feeds also provide an immediate and understandable ROI, maybe less than they once did, but people see their data getting used, and can play with it in tools from the moment it goes live.

I’ve been thinking that what makes a lot of sense is to start creating little widgets and websites that provide value on top of RDF open data. To this end I’ve created a little service which provides a building location lookup for your website, given an RDF document containing a list of your buildings. The code is available on request but is still a bit hacky. I’ve some ideas to make it really exendable and do some stuff to make it easier to customise. It’s written using ARC2, Graphite and some javascript.

I actually thing the demonstrations below are a really big deal. It’s one tool which can provide a useful service on top of the RDF from three different organisations. This is what I want the future to look like! These can be embedded in your own pages in an iframe, but it’s a bit icky loading 4 google map iframes in one page.

Also get in touch, maybe via the comments, if you would like to publish open RDF data about your organisation’s places. It’s dead easy and all you need is a UNIXish (Linux or OSX) computer, a free tool (Grinder), and my example configuration files for places in grinder. Given that you can edit your list of buildings (and sites, and rooms…) in a spreadsheet and turn it into RDF data in minutes. Cheap, easy, and with an imediate Return On Investment. This is how Linked Data should be.

I’m even thinking about making a Grinder web service, so you just publish a speadsheet, and a configuration file and we spit out RDF for you…