countculture

Open data and all that

Posts Tagged ‘hyperlocal

New feature: search for information by postcode

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Why was it important that the UK government open up the geographic infrastructure? Because it makes so many location-based things that were tortuous, almost trivial.

Previously, getting open data about your local councillors, given just a postcode, was a tortuous business, requiring multiple calls to different sites. Now, it is easy. Just go to http://openlylocal.com/areas/postcodes/%5Byourpostcodehere%5D and, bingo, you’re done.

You can also just put your postcode in the search box on any OpenlyLocal page to do the same thing. And, obviously, you can also download the data as XML or JSON, and with an open data licence that allows reuse by anybody, even commercial reuse.

There’s still a little bit of tweaking to be done. I need to match up postcodes county electoral divisions, and I’m planning on adding RDF to the data types returned. Finally, it’d be great to show the ward boundaries on a map, but I think that may take a little more work.

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Written by countculture

April 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

OpenlyLocal info on your hyperlocal website, Part 2: Ning app

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A bit overdue (I’ve been talking about doing this for a couple of months), but at last there’s now a Ning app for OpenlyLocal local data so anyone who has a UK Ning hyperlocal site (well, anyone in the 90+ councils we’ve opened up data for) can now have information about their council right there in their site.

Like the OpenlyLocal Google gadget (see OpenlyLocal info on your website, Part 1: Google Gadgets), it’s fairly straightforward to use. You need to be the owner of the Ning community to add it, and then it’s automatically available to users as just another tab (like Forums, Videos, Photos, etc). Once you’ve done it you (and the other members of the community) can see the council’s key data, upcoming meetings, members and committees. More features and functionality will be added, but it’s already a very useful addition to any hyperlocal site.

This is what it looks like in action:

Screenshot of Hyperlocal Ning app from OpenlyLocal

So how do you add the OpenlyLocal application to your Ning community (NB Ning Apps need to be added by the network creator). It’s a breeze, and should take no more than a couple of minutes (probably a lot less):

  1. Go to the ‘Manage’ Tab on your network:
  2. Click on Ning Apps and you’ll be shown the Ning App directory. Quickest thing is just to search for the OpenlyLocal app:
  3. Choose the OpenlyLocal application:
  4. You’ll then be redirected to the Tab management screeen, where you can change the name of the Tab for the app . By default it’s “Council info :: OpenlyLocal”, but might be better to be just “Our Council” or “Council watch” if space is tight. *Important*: If you do change the name, you must click the Save Tab Settings button, otherwise just click on the link:
  5. You should now be shown the OpenlyLocal page (if not, just click on the tab), and you should click on the ‘edit settings’ link (in the top RIGHT of the info area, not the ‘settings’ link just above it and to the left).
  6. Select your local authority, and then “Save Changes”
  7. The app will then get the data from OpenlyLocal (but some may be hidden – if so so just reload the page).
  8. That’s it.

There’s more features coming, but I hope you’ll agree it’s an essential addition to any Ning hyperlocal community. Comments as ever welcome, and the code behind the application will be shortly uploaded to the OpenlyLocal github tools page.

p.s. To remove the app, just go back to the tab management page and click on the ‘x’ beside the tab.

Written by countculture

November 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm