HumberData.org is an attempt to kick-start the open data community within the Humberside area.
I use the word ‘Humberside’ with full knowledge of its recent history – but in this context it’s correct, for I plan to provide datasets from all four Humber authorities: East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Hull City Council, North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council.
The Councils have a direct bearing on each other due to their geographic proximity, like it or lump it they are partners.
I will work with officials from each authority to try and get data released, especially if there is a demand for it – aka ‘you ask for it!
One other thing I’ll try to get right – the licence. There’s no point getting data if you can’t use it for a project!
Over time I will be copying /linking to data from the ONS, data.gov.uk and many other places that relate to the Humber region.
I want you – the developers, citizens and general public to be able to find data related to your area and I also want you to find it in the right format with a simple to use API.
I have in the past tried to use open data, such as the open send data for upnorthauditor.com and paid the price, inconsistent date formats, different csv headers, data in pdf only, excel spreadsheets etc etc – all are barriers to the simple and continual use of open data.
The Humber region is missing out on the energy, creativity and general enthusiasm that the developer community has in abundance – the social value that open data can provide has been proven many times. Lets release that data and get hacking!
As the site progresses I want companies to start providing data and I want to kick off an open data group – I can then hand over ownership of the site to the group for evermore.
If you’re interested, feel you can help, have a question etc – then please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org
As always with personal blogs – life gets in the way.
In this case life == getting fit, I’ve spent a lot of time cycling and at the gym.
Cycling is, for me, the perfect companion to working at a PC all day, I get to switch off. My brain has time to disengage from the problem solving and normal thought processes and by the time I’ve finished I feel so much better, both physically and mentally, but I digress..
This post is about a recent project I was asked to get involved in, creating a wallboard for the UCCX equipment we use on one of our service desks. The staff were used to having a wallboard so when we moved across to the UCCX system the costs/benefits of purchasing the official wallboard didn’t stack up (I was led to believe) .
I was asked to look at the problem and with a bit of help from some vbscript code from Stoke Council I set about creating a new front end.
The vbscript code does the database connection via an ODBC connector, this connects every 3 secs to the database and reads from a summary table. It then creates an XML message which is served via a web server.
Getting the ODBC connector to actually connect was a pain…
Informix is not as easy as MySQL – I’d even say Oracle is easier than Informix!
Some of the gotcha’s that we learnt were that the protocol has to be ‘onsoctcp’.
The client locale (on this occasion) has to be ‘en_US.UTF8’ and we also found that sometimes when the connection failed we could bring it back up by un-checking the ‘use server database locale’ on the environment tab, clicking apply (it fails to connect) and then ticking it back again – click apply and it connects… strange but true.
We also had to set the buffer size to 4096.
All in all it was a serious pain to get a stable connection through to the box but in all fairness, since we figured out the exact requirements of the connection it’s just worked – we rarely have to touch it.
That’s the database side – now onto the front-end, which is on a separate server.
A Laravel based site consumes the XML and updates a dashboard that the service desk staff can read.
It’s a bit convoluted as we need to pass data from one bit of the network to the another but it works and so far has been reliable.
The Laravel front-end was built quickly and used constant feedback from the service desk staff. Getting the right information in the right place was harder than I realised, I think we went through 20 iterations before it settled down.
The front-end is built on top of boot-strap CSS.
It was a fun and simple application to build, the end users are really pleased and we saved the tax payer a bit of cash as we didn’t have to buy the official front end.