Southampton Open Data Blog

App Ideas

Apps wanted!

December 13, 2012
by Ash Smith

Southampton’s Open Data is really gathering momentum now, and is being used for many things. Personally, I like the “cool stuff” approach, as it allows people to see what’s really possible with Open Data. Recent additions to our “cool stuff” are the university events page, which gathers event information from all over the university and makes it available in one searchable index, and the workstation locator which allows members of the university to locate an available iSolutions workstation nearby, using a GPS-enabled smartphone if they prefer. I’m currently liaising with the providers of the council’s live bus data in order to make sure that no existing apps break when the system goes live again, which should be in a few weeks time. I’m making it my top priority to not inconvenience application developers, and data integrity is something I take very seriously. After all, if I were to develop a cool app based on external data and a week later the data format changed for no good reason, I probably wouldn’t trust that data not to change again. So if you’ve developed an app that uses our bus data, please feel free to get in contact if you find it’s suddenly started behaving strangely and I’ll do everything I can to help. The system may go up and down in the coming weeks while we iron out some bugs, but the last thing I want is everyone having to re-implement their apps because of something we’ve done.

With cool apps in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to publicise the university’s Open Data Competition, an initiative designed to try and encourage developers to use our data. If you can’t program, don’t worry, you can submit an idea for a cool app without having to actually develop it yourself. The competition also accepts visualisations of our data, so if you’re into statistics or making mash-ups, this may be your chance to impress the judges. There’s a £200 Amazon voucher up for grabs for the winner of each category and £100 vouchers for the runners up. Don’t feel you have to restrict your ideas to the data we provide, data is best when linked. It’d be really nice to see something that provides a useful service by combining our data with that of, say, the government or the police.

Nightclub Bus-times Idea

March 4, 2011
by Christopher Gutteridge

My colleague, Toby Hunt, had a cool idea for a use for the live bus-times data; put a screen in a pub or nightclub showing when the next buses from the nearby bus-stops are. More drinking time, and less time spent outside in the cold. For girls travelling home alone, waiting longer than needed at a bus-stop could even be a safety issue.

We are grabbing the data from the council website, and caching it for 30 seconds to try and minimise load on their server. There’s 1410 bus-stops in the bus-stops dataset so in theory the maximum load on their server would be those requested twice a minute. 47 requests per second is rather a lot, but I doubt it’ll ever see 10% of that.