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Open Data Internship: The Winchester Expedition

Friday saw the first real world test of the data gathering tool. Surprisingly, it didn’t crash, erase any of the gathered data or otherwise combust spectacularly. I’m almost dissapointed.

Instead, Chris and I spent a few hours wandering campus in the glorious sunshine. We took photos of buildings and doors, using the tool to log their locations. In theory, the timestamps produced by the tool will help match tags to photos. We’ll have to see about that one, check back next week!

Tomorrow marks the start of the serious data gathering. I’m mounting a one-man expedition to the wilds of Winchester, to pay a visit to the School of Arts. Whilst there, I’m hoping to discover:

  • The names they call their buildings. Supposedly, they’re different to the names on record. Mysterious!
  • The locations of any water fountains. A rare catch, these need documenting for further study.
  • Lecture rooms available, and which buildings they’re in. After all, nobody knows what’s really inside the Winchester School of Arts buildings.
  • Showers available for use by cyclists. There’s a surprising number of these hidden away in the ECS buildings in Highfield.

This is in addition to the usual building and doors data.

The plan is to start on one side of the campus and do a first pass through the building interiors. This is because my guide only has a limited amount of time. I need his valuable door access to delve deep into the bowels of WSA.

The outside of buildings is next, recording portal data and building images. I’ll follow this up with an excursion to Erasmus Park, the local halls.

Who knows, maybe I’ll grab an ice cream along the way too?



Warning: Technical description ahead.

This is the full process I’m using to gather data, as of this post:


  • Clear any testing data from the data gathering tool database.
  • Apply geo locations of items to be investigated to map.
    • – Generate a KML/CSV/GEOJSON file of the items.
    • – Host the items in a publically accesible location. I prefer Git, Google Drive or an online Paste tool like Pastey also work.
    • – Using a mapping tool such as umap (, add a layer, then either import the data from the remote, or in umap, add as a remote data source.
    • (When using Umap, tick “Use Proxy” to ensure the icons load correctly)
  • Screenshot and print off map
  • Print off open data consent forms
  • Make sure your phone and camera have adequate amounts of battery (ideally full).

Overall Process

  1. Pick a location on the map and decide which buildings to gather data from.
  2. For each building, gather the data needed, using the instructions below.

Taking a Building Image

  1. Take a picture of building, attempting to get as much of the building in frame as possible.
    • A good photo will make the building easily identifiable as you walk past it.
  2. Using the open data tool, select the category “Image”, write a tag in the tool.
    • Wait for the GPS to update to the current location.
    • If the accuracy is low (say, less precise [higher] than 6m), click/touch the map to mark a more accurate position.

The geo-location data isn’t necessary for buildings that are already marked on the map, but it helps automatically match images to names later on.

Gathering Portal Data

  1. Walk around building, try to identify all entrances that aren’t fire escapes (which we aren’t permitted to gather as of 14/07/2016).
  2. For each entrance, take a picture identifying it. A good photo will make the entrance easily identifiable as you walk past.
  3. Follow the procedure for getting consent, if any people are in your photo (an ideal photo has no people).
  4. Use the data gathering tool to mark the location of the entrance on the map. Try to get as close as possible to where you think the entrance is on the map.
  5. Select the “Portal” category in the tool.
  6. Add a tag, starting with the building ID, followed by the type of entrance. For example, “32 Main” or “32 Main North” or “32 Rear”.
  7. Submit the data.

Requesting Consent
Attempt to get nobody in the shot, unless you’re taking pictures of a reception or Point of Service stand, where behind-the-counter staff can make it look friendlier.

If people need to be in the shot:

  1. Verbally ask permission before taking the picture, explaining that you represent the Open Data Service, and what that is. Ensure they’re okay signing a consent form.
  2. Take the photo.
  3. Ask them to fill in an entry on the consent form.

Cross buildings off as you go, to mark them as completed.

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