CTC9 – Team Presentations

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.

Team: Soul Cats

Team: The Professionals


CTC9 – What a 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.

The idea funnel

It was fascinating to witness the journey we all ventured on – from random ideas on post-its to distilling them down into structured approaches.

ideas ideas ideas
how things fit together

Team work

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.

team work

CTC9 – Near the finish line

Here’s a quick update before the big show-and-tell later on.

Team: ALISS API database

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.

Team: Soul Cats

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.

Team: The Professionals

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:

  1. Who are key stakeholders?
  2. What are key relationships?
  3. What are key challenges?
  4. What are the gains right now if this project went live?


CTC9 – Sunday Morning

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.


Geek MuffinThe 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.

screenshot demoNow 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.

Sunday team photo

Team: Soul Cats

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.

There was some discussion around: user cases

  • options for geo-location of service providers relative to user addresses
  • including info on mobility/access issues e.g. stairs
  • including info on parking, public and community transport connections
  • including photos of the service location, exteriors and interiors, so that people easily recognise the place once there

The next steps will involve working closer with our coders and coming up with names for the page, categories etc.

Code The City 9 – It’s on!

We kicked off the ‘Code The City 9 – Health Signposting’ weekend this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. There are just under 20 attendees from mixed backgrounds.

We have volunteered to help solve issues around health care data. One problem is that health care data are currently maintained in (at least) three unconnected systems run by different organisations. These are ALISS, GCD (Grampian CareData) and MILO. The ultimate goal of this project is to create an open data source that provides accessible up-to-date information to the public and professionals.

Continue reading Code The City 9 – It’s on!

History Jam – #CTC6

The History Jam (or Code The City #6 if you are counting) will take place on 19-20 March 2016 at Aberdeen University. You can get one of the remaining tickets here.

As an participant, you’ll be bringing history to life, creating a 3D virtual reality map of a square mile of Aberdeen’s city centre. You’ll be gathering data from a variety of historical sources, transcribing that and creating new open data. You’ll import that into the the 3D model.
And there will also be the opportunity to re-use that data in imaginative new ways. So, if you are a MineCraft fan, why not use the data to start building Minecraft Aberdeen.
This is not one of our usual hacks, whatever that is! This time around instead of you proposing problems to be worked on, we’ve set the agenda, we’ll help form the teams, and provide you with more guidance and support.
If you come along you’ll learn open data skills. And you’ll get a year’s free membership of the Open Data Institute!

Saturday’s Running Order

09:00 Arrive in time for fruit juices, coffee, pastries, or a rowie.

09:30 Introduction to the day
09:45 Briefing of teams and, if you are new to Open Data, a quick training session

10:15 Split into three streams:

  • Sourcing and curation of data, and structuring capture mechanisms
  • Transcribing,  cleaning, and  publishing open data
  • Creating the 3D map, importing and visualising the data


Throughout the day we’ll have feedback sessions, presenting back to the room on progress. We’ll write blog posts, create videos, photograph progress.

13:00 Lunch (the best sandwiches in Aberdeen)

More workstream sessions with feedback and questions.

17:30 (or so) Pizza and a drink

We’ll wind up about 8pm or so if you can stay until then

Sunday’s Agenda

09:30 arrive for breakfast

10:00 kick off

Morning sessions

12:30 Lunch

Afternoon sessions

16:00 Show and Tell sessions – demonstrate to the room, and a wider audience, and preserve for posterity what you’ve produced in less than 36 hours. You’ll be amazed!

Final show and tell from Edinburgh

This is a last, long blog to share all the news on the ideas developed over the weekend in Edinburgh.  There is more info on twitter and on the two Storify items as well as on CodetheCity Eventifier.

We had six presentations and it was amazing to see the way ideas had developed over two days and had become live prototypes with real potential for the future!

We had a great mix of folk attending – design students from Hanzehigeschool Gronigen, young people from the Edinburgh Prewired group with Mentors from CodeBase, a number of local developers and designers who have worked on Edinburgh Council projects as well as others interested in Edinburgh data and one or two local digital companies.  We had over 70 people attending over the two days, and the buzz and focus was inspiring.

Here are the final ideas/prototypes:

Trashban – this team created Monster, munching Max – both a physical bin and an app.  The monster gets happier the more you feed it.  They looked at mapping litter reports and bins, but ran out of time, but it influenced their thinking and they would have added in locations given time.  The app encourages you to feed the monster! The final app would also include a leader board with awards for those who get rid of the most litter.

This team also had a hardware development team, built using an actual bin, which talks to you when you put litter in. It was powered by Arduino and other bits and pieces – a speaker on the inside, light sensor, and LED light – when it is disrupted by litter being thrown in the voice is activated. Everyone had a lot of fun recording litter messages! It does work but the lead developer threw in a piece of rubbish and broke it before the live demo!

Fly – an app crowdsourcing biodiversity data in the city the app issues a daily challenge to find species with a score board. The community self-moderates and data is uploaded onto a server which creates a heat map of locations in the city. Requests will come through at a specific time each day, and the rarer the species the more points there are. Incentives include virtual trophies to be won, and encourages competition. The ultimate goal is to crowdsource the data across the city.  The team managed to create an API to pull in data.

The design – homepage designed by one of the visiting Dutch students from Gronigen and images and species were researched before developing a graphical view of Edinburgh Castle – an eye catching design, with a kingfisher as the app logo.

Cyclists for cyclists – an app designed to offer a range of services for cyclists including where to get repairs, shower, park and eat as well as a chat feature. In the future it would be possible to add cycling routes, and share trips you have completed. It has the user GPS to help locate.  The idea is for it to be community driven, crowdsourcing useful information.

Edinbro built a website where people can share tasks – looking for help in their community, from anything to finding a cat to moving house. Points are awarded depending on the complexity of the task and it includes a leader board to discover who is the most helpful in your area.  They have a separate app.  Their backend was also developed so they could demonstrate adding a new request, as well as the architecture for their development.  

The Land Revival site was built by two of the Prewired coders who attended the weekend – they had the idea of mapping all the data for vacant and derelict land so people could ask for land for community projects or to buy.  Using the Council API to extract data they created a searchable site, with a full map and also a satellite map. You can view by map or list.

Data Noms is really the start of a project thought of by a local developer who is using Edinburgh Council open data.  It is an idea to create a hub to improve data for anyone using it.  Using Council data he demonstrated with one data set using programmes created to find data errors and fix them, improving the data. His example was a csv file improved from 3 star to 4 star (following the open data quality system). This development is open and be used by anyone working with data, and at specific events to help those working with data.  Although it is just a starter it is exactly what Edinburgh needs to improve its data.