That’s it from the roving reporters… thanks to the teams for being so helpful and letting us talk to them about their amazing projects.
Get a cuppa… this is going to be a long recap!
The teams are ready for a final show-and-tell of what they have achieved this weekend. Steve has made everyone pick the running order using random cards, so no one had to volunteer to go first. We’re having a competition where participants can vote for which project has made the best progress this week.
First up, #BigSociety. Perhaps the short straw… but at least they get it out of the way nice and quickly so they can enjoy the other team’s presentations. #BigSociety are matching volunteers with opportunities – a dating app for volunteers! They want to improve on the mechanisms that are already out there for doing this, by making it faster and more slick.
They have a website demonstration on the screen, they are logging in as a “user” – a person who is looking for volunteer work. There are tick-boxes for skills, and one for locations that they are available to work in.
Once the user is registered, a community group/event organiser (the “admin”) can post up an event/job opportunity through this app. The criteria are the same as what the user can see to ensure that the application can provide a perfect match. The admin can also fill in free-text detail about the opportunity, information on how to travel to the location of the opportunity, and various other relevant details that the user would need to see before applying.
The user is then alerted to the event that there is an available volunteer opportunity that would be suitable for their skills and within the area that they are available to work. They have the option to Apply for this work, and when they have done that they receive an email confirmation of that.
Still to be completed are the alerts for the admin that there is a pending application and also allowing the admin to then invite the applicant to interview, or reject the application.
Next on the demonstration is showing us how an admin could list a community event. This would then be available for people to view on an application. While this prototype is still rough – it is very easy to see how this would work very effectively.
Second is Iain from #FOIAWiki. He has created some slides for the purposes of this presentation! The aim of this project was to open up FOI disclosures by opening up the information that is already on the Aberdeen City Council website. Currently it’s difficult to navigate and not searchable. The aim was to include crowd sourced tagging and allow reuse of data.
First steps for this team were to identify available data. Building schemas included the OWL and linked data. They built their ontology using LODE which Iain recommends to other participants. Using D2R Server and a MySQL back-end he has created the linked data.
Iain demonstrates the front-end, where you can search by tag and keyword to view the relevant PDFs. Currently they have scrapers from ACC and E Lothian but they have done it in a modular way so that people can submit requests to have their own LAs scraped and aggregate the data together.
#GoWithFlo are third on the list. Their aims have evolved over the weekend. They started out looking at producing accessibility guidelines for developers but discovered that there are already great resources out there for this. They then looked at producing a resource for the clients of the InfoHub that Flo had discussed who require easy read content to access internet page. It’s estimated that 10% of internet users have accessibility needs, so this page has been named “Ten Percent News”. The idea is that members of the InfoHub can create easy read versions of news stories. Long term they are looking to go bigger with this and allow people in other areas to read the news. They will use an app which auto summarises an article, and uses the Flickr API to match a picture with the story. After that a volunteer can review what the app outputs and tweak it, changing the suggested pictures and ensuring that the stories make sense. We’ve had a quick demo of searching for pictures by keyword and the page showing you the top five suggestions.
#Oranj have drawn number four in the running order. A mock up of a request form for a translation job is on the screen. Matias explains that the form has been designed according to the brief from the Translation Team. Once the product is finished it would link to a database, create a log-in for the requester, and email the request to the Translation Officers who could progress the job. A list of the requests made by the customer can be viewed, showing summary details of the requests that they have already made and allowing the person to view the full details input.
#JuicyWords, another part of the Translation project have drawn fifth. They have focused on the self-employed translators who would be applying for the available translating jobs. They’ve also created a presentation! It has a very attractive team logo. Artjoms explains that they wanted to create a team message along with the logo.
Their aims and objectives were to develop a web page with user-friendly design and assist translators in finding jobs. We are now seeing screen shots of how the interface would operate. It looks pretty slick! A demonstration of the prototype… You can sign up as a variety of different categories. A calendar appears which shows the dates that jobs are available to apply for. When you click on the date, the jobs appear. There is a profile where you can upload your details (languages spoken etc) and then that will filter the jobs that you can see based on your skills. There is also a page to communicate with the Translation officers, ask questions, cancel and accept offered jobs etc.
We’re now pausing for a bit of banter about different technology standards……!
#RosettaRoot have hosted their prototype on Google Docs for us to view. They are the final piece of the Translation team solution, centred around the Translation Officers themselves. They need to verify both posted jobs from customers and potential applicants who want to do the work. They’ve created a front-end that they’ve attempted to make API-ready. What they’ve created would provide a ready-made shortlist of applications for a particular job. An admin can log in using a username and password, and Danny demonstrates the ‘forgotten password’ function. The first thing the Translation Officer would need to see is a summary of requested jobs, with job numbers and other priority information. Filters are built in that filter by location, language and other criteria. They’ve also built a directory of potential applicants, that can also be filtered so that it’s easy to get in touch with the translators on file. Jobs can be viewed individually and a shortlist of potential applicants is also shown on that view.
#ActiveAberdeen make the penultimate presentation. Their project has progressed from a series of Statty-notes to a particular issue they want to solve. People may want to find friends to be active with. The team thought around the various situations people might want to participates in and settled on the idea of someone identifying an activity that they would like to participate in in quite a free-form way and finding people to do it with. Activities are searchable on this site, with the example being used being football. A user could post up an potential ‘event’ even if that’s just a kick about in the park, with the eventual idea being that people can comment via Facebook and other social media and indicate their interest. They’ve produced an attractive example site for this.
#MatchTheCity – the initial idea was to provide a back-end for the many ‘matching’ ideas that have been pitched this weekend. They’d started out with a tripartite model of people, opportunity and skills which would all required to be matched. They created a basic database for this quite quickly, other teams tested it, and then they had the opportunity to expand their idea by including other points to include ssh as venues, activities and events. These were all in a variety of formats (pdf, xml etc) which had to be parsed. Not all were very user friendly, an example being the Aquatics timetable, which we are being shown and I can confirm that it’s hard to see what time things start and finish and even what the events are.
We’re now being shown an example front end, with the caveat that they were concentrating on producing a useable back end! An example used is swimming, with many different swimming sessions and other aqua activities being shown – the venue, date/time, category and other criteria being easily shown in summary, and also a map of where the activity is. Iain from the FOIA wiki team has also been producing linked data for this. At the moment to find swimming you have to go and look on many different websites to find detail, whereas this shows it in one easy-view format. This technology could be used for many more different purposes than just finding sporting activities. With the times and status of activities subject to change (for example a swimming pool could be closed for refurbishment or a holiday) this could be incorporated into this database and updated in a similar way to how live traffic reports would be updated.
And that’s all eight teams… some very impressive demonstrations have been made, and everyone is off to vote for their favourite.
Our final team profile is of… well, the people who have been ‘between’ teams!
Angela, a student of interactive media, is very interested in coding and came here to learn from others and help out where she can. She became interested in technology after completing a Computing for the Totally Terrified course, and has progressed her skills from there.
Rowan, an admin professional, has been doing some tweeting and blogging on this Tumblr. She’s also been checking in on the teams, asking them about their projects and providing a new perspective, and in the latter stages of some projects she has been lending her CSS skills to ensuring the finished projects look good as well as work well.
Sarah, who does PR and photography; and Erin, a contracts administrator for an IT company have been tweeting, photographing and interviewing the teams about their projects. We’ve also been publishing updates on here too. (We don’t code!)
Team #ActiveAberdeen have also been working on a matching app. Eventually it is planned that this could work alongside the #BigSociety and #MatchTheCity products, but presently it’s been designed along the lines of matching sports and physical activity opportunities alongside participants. When we spoke with them, they told us they had a working website, but that it currently didn’t look very pretty! Form can definitely come after function.
The team are Robert, an electronic engineer, and Giles, a developer.
We caught up with Iain, an internet engineering researcher at the University of Aberdeen, and the sole remaining member of team #FOIAWiki, just after he announced that the team’s project was complete! Local authorities are required to make disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and a log of these disclosures made by Aberdeen City Council is available on their website. Currently the log is not searchable and it can be difficult for a visitor to the site to determine if anyone has made a similar request for information disclosure to one that you may plan to make.
The #FOIAWiki has taken the existing disclosures out and adapted them into a database to linked data standards, so that other people can use it. It allows searches to be made by keyword, incorporates data from two local authorities so far, and is based on modular scrapers so that data pertaining to other local authorities can be contributed.
You can read more about what Iain and Johnny (not pictured) have been doing on Iain’s blog.
#Oranj are developing the form for a customer of the Translation department to request a translator. The form outputs to a database, and the team plan for this to eventually interface with the finished articles that #JuicyWords and #RosettaRoot produce. #Oranj are attempting to work closely with their ‘client’, in this case, the Translation department, to ensure that what they produce will meet their needs and those of their customers.
Team #Oranj are Adrian, a freelance software developer and student of Computing Science, and Matias, who is soon to graduate with a degree in Computing Science.
Team #MatchTheCity are creating the back-end to support projects like the #ActiveAberdeen and #BigSociety team projects. The end result should allow you to match things together – allowing people to match with events, sports or volunteering opportunities, based on particular criteria, perhaps a set of certain skills, including soft skills.
An example of a volunteer match would be that a community service needed someone to answer a telephone helpline, they could have a requirement for people to have empathy and an excellent telephone manner, and people seeking volunteer work with those attributes would be matched with that opportunity.
As I write this, the team had been scraping and also transcribing data from existing websites, for example the SportAberdeen timetable and the timetable for the new Aquatics Centre, to be used for this purpose.
A challenge the team have been facing with this project is that the data they need is not open data. It is designed for human reading, often cannot be machine-read and is effectively single-use. This precludes it from being presented in a different way, for example, it currently could not feed directly into an app for a smartphone.
Update (11:19am): #MatchTheCity have expanded their data model to include new functionality. You can see this team’s output at CodeTheCity’s GitHub.
For those of you who have just joined us, we’ve been here in the Meston Building all day Saturday and we’re back again today.
CodeTheCity is an exercise in civic hacking – that is, building new tools and services to allow local people to better access all types of community resources. We have eight projects currently in progress, and we’ve just heard from each of the teams about their progress.
#MatchTheCity reported that they completed the prototype of the database back end yesterday, sources of data have been identified and some have been imported for testing. By the end of today, they’re hoping for a usable version to be available online.
#BigSociety are building an app to match volunteers with opportunities. The matching system is now operational and the next step is to introduce the ability to add community events to the system.
#ActiveAberdeen indicated that they now have a system for posting events that is active. They’re in the process of testing and refining, and they hope to have something to show at the 3pm show-and-tell!
#Oranj are validating input into their request form. They have developed a site for customers to be able to view the jobs that they have requested.
#JuicyWords have created a calendar that is now ready to be populated with activity days.
#RosettaRoot are working on the UI for matching the two other projects together. Things are progressing well.
#GoWithFlo are working on a site which would be populated by volunteers, allowing easy read summaries of top news stories, and using a Flickr API which would allow pictures to be matched with these stories. A more ambitious version of this proposal would auto-summarise the stories, and pictures would be auto-matched with the articles. A volunteer would be able to check and edit the stories before posting. The team are hoping to have the modest version to show later on.
#FOIAWiki have their linked data reporting. The data from East Lothian is now usable and about half the Aberdeen data is also at that stage.
We’re quite taken with the poster prompts around the #codethecity base.
Lightning updates from our teams:
#GoWithFlo has created and tested several hypotheses. They have established that there are good accessibility guidelines already available but feel that the council website is not easy to read. They intend to build an accessible, Easyread WordPress blog for local news and events.
#ActiveAberdeen has done its first prototype, created a basic test version and asked for user feedback on this. Feedback has been good so they are now harvesting more data with which to populate their app.
#BigSociety has decided to focus on volunteer matching. They are currently building an app. Their next step is to get the data with which to populate it.
#FOIAWiki has an ontology and database and almost have data. They know what they are looking for and how they intend to organise it.
#Oranj, #JuicyWords and #RosettaRoot are in the process of building their app to simplify matching translators to jobs. Several pages have been built including a login, calendar and search form. They have also been designing a “juicy” logo.