Our next hack weekend will be on 19th and 20th May 2018. Details to follow very soon.
Tourism is vital to the local economy. While loads of tourists pass through Aberdeen we could do so much more to make it a destination of choice.
The featured image above is how we used to attract tourists to Aberdeen. How should we do it now? What role does design, marketing, technology or data play in new interactions with tourists?
Anyone – despite our name, coding is a small bit of what we do.
Of course, coders, data wranglers, designers and other techies are important to a hack weekend.
We’d be delighted to see you if:
Yes – we’ll be identifying opportunities and barriers to making Aberdeen City and Shire a destination of choice for tourists, creating projects, teams and prototypes to address those. Some of those will turn into coding projects – and some will all be about research, service design and paper prototyping.
The event will run Saturday 9.30am to about 5pm, then Sunday 9.30 to about 4.30pm.
* identification of opportunities and barriers
* ideation to address those
* creation of project teams to work on those
* agile prototyping of solutions, so that by close of play Sunday we will have demonstrable solutions which could be developed into real worls products or services.
But, a ticket will cost £5 (*)
At CTC 11 in December we broke with a tradition established over the previous 10 events and charged a small amount to attend. The reasone was that in a couple of recent CTC events we had higher than normal numbers of people booking free tickets and not showing up. That meant we over-catered, and despite our best efforts we had left-over food, which is a bad thing and wastes money too.
So, we attached a monetary value to the ticket (* backed up by our promise that those attending would get their money back when they showed up). And it worked. The bookings didn’t go down. Fewer people dropped out. We didn’t waste food and we banked the money that went unclaimed. A few generous individuals recognising our new charity status even refused their money back, which was nice.
You can get tickets here (on Eventbrite).
We’ll be at the Sir Ian Wood Building at Robert Gordon University’s Garthdee Campus. You can get a No 1 bus from King Street / Union Street which will take you into the campus and drop you at the door. Or you can get a No. 2 bus which will drop you at the gates to the campus.
If you must drive, then parking is free and open at weekends on campus.
Robert Gordon University will be sponsoring this event. We could do with another sponosor or two to make sure we cover all costs. If you would like to sponsor it, get in touch with @codethecity on Twitter.
We look forward to seeing you in February!
Ian, Steve, Andrew and Bruce.
Code the City
Registered Charity in Scotland: SC047835
It has been well documented that there is a problem with Aberdeen City Council and their approach to Smart City and Open Data in particular. See these posts, these requests and this github page from a project at CTC11, where we tried to help fix things. Today, a Finnish researcher on Smart Cities posted this on Reddit! International reputation? What international reputation!
Now it appears that in the relaunch last week of the Aberdeen City Council website, the council has ditched masses of content. This includes the city-wide What’s On which was until recently the most heavily-used part of the council website and which provided an extremely useful community resource.
More digging – well Googling of some popular terms for council website content and functions – returns nothing but 404 errors. See the list below for some examples.
When, in 2006 when when the site last underwent a major update, the small team took just six months on the transition, beginning to end. No content was lost or broken, and with URL rewriting and redirects they ensured that everything worked on day one.
The council have been working on the current relaunch – on and off as managers were swapped around or were dispensed with – for two years! And the mess of the site, with massive holes in content and functionality, far outweighs the much-improved look and feel.
So, what is the plan to restore content, much of which is a matter of public record?
We, as tax-payers, have paid for the creation of functionality and information which is of significant public use. So, where has it gone?
For example where is:
Don’t the citizens of Aberdeen deserve better than this?
Maybe someone would care to make an FOI request to the city council – to ask what data the decision-making on transfer of content and functionality was based on, and get a copy of the website stats for the last three months? I think they are fed up of me.
A healthy turnout for Codethecity 11. Following a few introductions, seven project ideas were pitched to the group:
Following the first hour of work, six teams had formed around these ideas. Just before lunch this is how the projects looked:
Working on data gathering and structure, form completed by more than 30 people already and team is working no adding structure to this.
Working with a combination of Raspberry Pi and MS Cognitive Services to do interesting things with image feeds. Hello Pi is now working, and initial research around using the image processing API.
PROD – Please Release Open Data
Team are working on pulling together a picture of the rate of open data progress in cities across the UK. Turning this into an infographic, while also working on data santa idea.
Out of Storage
Arduino project to create an interactive robot theatre. It’s alive – and the team are adding sophistication to the number of aspects that can be controlled.
Feed Me Now
The greenhouse management service is coming together. Sensors are dangling out of the windows of Fraser Noble Building confirming that it’s a little chilly out there. Ian is currently experimenting with http://www.blynk.cc/ as a shortcut for getting the boards talking to the internet. Working while tied by USB already.
The team is working on a simulation of a human heart – starting with a sphere as a simplistic model, and building from that.
We’ve had loads of positive comments that CTC is returning on 25-26 Nov with a Christmas themed hack weekend.
Other than at our very first CTC weekend, we’ve tended to have a theme – health, culture, sport etc. Those themes have put some shape around the weekends’ activities and helped people to identify challenges to work on, projects to tackle and solutions to develop. Which is great.
Anyone – despite our name, coding is a small bit of what we do. We’d be delighted to see you if
For many of our serial-attendees, they know what to expect and how we work. So they are happy to go with the flow. If you haven’t been to a CTC event before, having a look at those links above will give you an idea of how things go.
Some others have asked ‘why no theme this time?’ – perhaps expecting a more traditional service-type theme.
Well …… there is a theme: FUN.
If you come along, you can interpret that pretty much as you like!
Here are some examples, of some suggestions that we’ve heard. How much fun you consider them is a personal matter!
There also have been mention of building a Raspberry Pi-powered hadoop cluster, citizen-science style home data scraping kits and a whole bunch more.
Maybe you want to create some software to write (and tweet?) its own cracker-style jokes. Or a platform to lobby councillors to provide better open data, or anything else [We said fun – Ed].
It is entirely up to you. But as you think up some ideas, you might want to consider two things:
If you don’t have an idea to bring, that is cool too. We’ll start the Saturday with some pitch sessions, so listen to others and join a team to work on their project which inspires you.
Don’t delay, get a ticket now! Otherwise, you might be disappointed!
See you there.
Ian, Steve, Andrew, Bruce
Where do you go on a lovely, sunny day in Aberdeen? What do you do for lunch with friends if it’s raining? Which are your favourite indy shops? We’d like to know so that we can turn this into open data and build a city guide of the most popular ones.
There are lots of cool places in Aberdeen, and wonderful things to do, and we should let others know which ones Aberdeen folks love to visit in the city and surrounding area.
We’ll take these suggestions and use them to create an #aberdeenguide at our November co-design and hack event.
To help us out go fill in the form. Share the link with others.
We had four presentations at the final pitch session at CTC10.
We have uploaded these to Vimeo below (trimming them for time to just the core presentations, and eliminating intros and questions):
Team one: https://vimeo.com/236647324
Team two: https://vimeo.com/236648125
Team three: https://vimeo.com/236649327
Team four: https://vimeo.com/236650501
These brought an enjoyable and productive couple of days to a close.
Well done to all participants involved!.
In this close-out post I shall hand over to the teams themselves to walk you through their CTC9 weekend. Check out the videos using the links below. Use the ‘ctc9’ tag to find all other blog posts about the amazing volunteering experience this weekend.
I am so glad I joined the CTC9 project as a volunteer. Blogging about this project was a tremendous experience. There are two aspects of this weekend that amazed me beyond the teams’ achievements.
It was fascinating to witness the journey we all ventured on – from random ideas on post-its to distilling them down into structured approaches.
The teams seemed to develop naturally based on people’s interests. It is remarkable how smoothly people from different sectors and backgrounds worked together in a very productive way. The Code the City staff did a great job in keeping us all on track.
Here’s a quick update before the big show-and-tell later on.
The team has developed a draft version of the website tucked away on a test server. They have established the first functional search using the category ‘social isolation’. It returns a list of service providers in the area that is drawn from the three source databases. This is a big step forward, as we now know how to program a search and are able to deliver visible results on a user interface.
The team is also working on searches based on location by postcode or radius.
One expected challenge is the extraction of information from differently formatted data sources. For example, one source database does not provide contact details in dedicated address fields but in a more general description box.
This group went back to focusing on the public end users. They came up with various names for this new website that make it easy to find. They played with words from Scots dialect and proper King’s English. All suggestions were googled to see whether they exist already or are buried in amongst a ton of other results. Ideally, we want something unique!
The team suggested to submit a selection of words to a public forum in order to collect opinions or votes.
The Professionals are a spin-off group from the Soul Cats. It’s a rollercoaster with those Cats! They went back to focusing on the value this website for health care professionals. In a structured approach they answered 4 key questions:
What a beautiful sunny morning for making my way over to CTC9 HQ. It’s a slow start today. Hey, it’s Sunday…
Since we didn’t have a close-out meeting last night, we caught up with everybody’s progress in a kick-off meeting this morning. Make sure to read the update from yesterday afternoon beforehand.
The data is flowing! We now have access to all 3 data sources: ALISS, GCD and MILO. MILO too? Yes! As it turns computing student Mikko has been working on hooking up MILO to the project as part of Team ALISS API.
Linking up GCD encountered a stumbling block after the initial success because the WiFi network ended up blocking the website used for our API. By the sounds of it, this is in hand though.
Now that we are connected to all databases, they are being combined by matching titles, identifying duplicates etc. The result will provide access to searchable data from all sources via one URL. James has already launched a temporary live demo page that connects to the databases. The first rough draft is based on story boards James designed with input from the user-focused teams last night. The website is currently at an early stage; so some buttons will work, some won’t. Feel free to rummage around.
There is also a shared file repository on github. It harbours user interface code, the backend REST API and photos from our brain storming sessions.
The next big goal is to develop the visual interface further to make search results visible to the website user. At the moment results appear only in code. The team also suggested that functionalities for location-based search and prioritising search results will require more development.
Teams Stripy Tops and Access All Areas have merged under the new name ‘Soul Cats’ (inspired by a T-shirt). This move made sense because both have been targeting user groups – the professional user (Stripy Tops) and the public (Access All Areas) – and now felt that their paths were converging.
The teams have drawn up more specific suggestions on user requirements based on the needs of different target groups. It’s quite impressive how yesterday’s wide-roaming discussions are now funneling into concrete scenarios and solutions. The obvious conclusion is to make the web interface simple – clear language, natural keywords, self-evident icons, sensible menu structure etc.
The next steps will involve working closer with our coders and coming up with names for the page, categories etc.