Tag Archives: open data

Simple Interface + Rich Content

The Government 2.0 Taskforce “Mashup Australia” Competition closed some time ago and roughly 2 weeks ago the winners were announced. I have held off commenting on the winning applications due to work and a little bit of gloominess in that my help in a submission only rated 3 stars. (http://mashupaustralia.org/mashups/locate-me/)

The number of entries to the Mashup Australia competition attracted 82 entries ranging from web page mashups to mobile applications. Some were complicated and others were simple to use. A favourite of mine was the ‘Meat in the Park’ (http://meatinapark.appspot.com/) application which quite simply allowed you to find a public BBQ and invite friend so you can have a picnic. Very simple interface, rich content and specific outcome.

The winning application, the Suburban Trends mapper http://www.suburbantrends.com.au/ showed that with a little bit of effort and a focus on user design that a complicated application could be quite simple to use. This application, like so many others combined Australian Bureau of Statistics data, location services and other datasets and presented this in map form. The application took the mashup approach one step further and applied dashboard style indicators to give the user a quick overview of their desired area. Not unique in the approach although commendable in the layout, colours and use. Certainly something for all of us is to think about is the intended audience and their technology prowess (or potentially lack of). They say you only have 8 seconds to grab someone’s attention on a website so the aim is to get it right and this application gets it right and better yet it was developed by a student!

With the push to open data policies and location aware data, a very significant mashup utilised typically non spatial data and combined this with location to produce ‘In Their Honour’. This mashup is dedicated to the service men and women who fought and died for Australia by allowing the user to search for their final resting place. http://mashupaustralia.org/mashups/in-their-honour/

A very powerful mashup that is easy to see why it won the peoples award.

I commend all entries to the Mashup Australia competition and with the Apps4Gov awards in NSW and other competitions that are springing up all over the place 2010 seems to be moving towards to social mapping/media space. With data access on the increase, content and rich content is at the fingertips for anyone who wants it. The challenge moving forward is to utilise the data in such a way that makes it easy to find, use and interpret!

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NeoGeography and Opening Access to Australian Data

Neogeography. What is it, where did this term come from and how does it affect me? I was readying an article by Michael Goodchild that was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Location Based Services (http://tiny.cc/eE6s7) which talked about how volunteered geographic information and the technologies that support this is blurring the lines between academic/professional spatial scientist and keen amateur. Neogeography is the buzz word that caters to the rise of new geography technologies used by non experts in the area of collecting and sharing information that is spatially referenced.

Reference how many mash-ups are now available with API’s such as Google Maps and Bing Maps. These mash-ups are now common place and contain information that was collected, published and referenced by those who might not have a GIS degree but are quite into new technologies and social media interaction. Apps for Democracy (http://www.appsfordemocracy.org/), Geovation (http://www.geovation.org.uk/), Gov2.0 Mashup Australia (http://mashupaustralia.org/) are examples of Neogeographers who have innovative idea’s making it known to the wider audience.

This explosion of new ideas and use of spatial data is leaving government and private organisations behind in how a neogeographer can be a critical link in how data is collected and disseminated to the wider community.

This got me thinking about how we manage government data and make this accessible to the community. Working in a leading state land agency within Australia the use of data is something that crosses my desk day to day. Time and time again, data becomes outdated, un-trusted and eventually cost prohibitive to bring back up to speed.

Web 2.0; if anything has opened the possibility for government to take a lead role in engagement with the community to leverage the local knowledge of individuals to deliver data that is accurate, stays accurate and becomes trusted. The Open Street Map initiative is a prime example of the community leveraging Web 2.0 technologies to produce a product that is greater than any one government agency could produce. (http://www.openstreetmap.org/)

Government is good at governance and this is the strength government can bring to the table in engaging with neogeographers. There is no value for government to continue to try and absorb with all components of a data value chain. Focus attention and developed the process for neogeographers to access, use and most importantly feed back data changes will ultimately lead to a greater benefit for those in government, thos in the private sector and those who are taking neogeography to the next level.

We are all observers in our local environments. Lets open access to data and ensure that if I make an update to some data that it is easily recorded, absorbed, processed and fed back out into the community.

Power of Local Knowledge
Image Source (http://conferences.oreillynet.com/where2007/)