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.
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.
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.
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:
- Who are key stakeholders?
- What are key relationships?
- What are key challenges?
- What are the gains right now if this project went live?
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.
Team: ALISS API
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
After two days of intense activity and a whole heap of learning for all of us, Code The City #8, our Chatbots and AI weekend came to an end at tea time on Sunday.
It couldn’t have happened without the generous sponsorship of our two sponsors: The Health Alliance, and Fifth Ring, for which we are very grateful.
The weekend rounded off with presentations of each project, four of which we’ve captured on video (see below).
Each of the projects has its own Github repo. Links are included at the end of each project description. And, two days later, the projects are still being worked on!
Team ALISS worked on providing a chatbot interface onto healthcare and social data provided via the ALISS system.
You can find Project ALISS’s code here on Github.
You can also watch this video of Douglas Maxwell from the Alliance being interviewed about the weekend (although at the time of writing the video is offline due to an AWS problem).
This team aimed to make the quality of consultations better through using intelligent chatbot interfaces to guide users through the process – and to provide challenge by prompting citizens to comment on previous consultees’ input.
You can find the code for City-Consult at this Github repo.
The concept for NoBot came from an initial idea which was of a bot which would make scheduling meetings easier. That spawned the idea – what if the Bot’s purpose was to make you have fewer meetings by challenging you at every turn, and in the process the bot’s personality as a sarcastic gatekeeper was born.
The code for Nobot lives here on Github.
Sadly there is no video of the wind-up talk for Seymour. In short the purpose of Seymour is to help you keep your houseplants alive. (More details to come).
You can find the code for Seymour at this repo on Github.
Team: Stuff Happens
We started this project with the aim to help citizens find out what was happening in the myriad of local events which we each often seem to miss. Many local authorities have a What’s On calendar, sometimes with an RSS feed. None we found had an API unfortunately.
We identified that by pulling multiple RSS feeds into a single database then putting a bot in front of it, and either through scripting or applying some AI, it should be possible to put potential audiences in touch with what is happening.
Further, by enhancing the collected data – enriching it either manually or by applying machine logic, we could make it more easily navigable and intelligible.
Expect a full write-up of the challenges of this project, and what progress was made, on Ian’s blog,
There is no video, but you an find the project code here on Github.
This project set out to solve the problem of checking if a shop or business was still open for the day through a Facebook bot interface – as you with wander around, wondering about the question, as it were.
You can find their code here.
And finally we were joined by Rory on day two who set out to assist team Stuff-Happens through developing some of the AI around terminologies or categories. That became the:
Word Association Scorer
This is now on Github – not a bot but a set of python functions that scores a given text against a set of categories.
We had loads of positive feedback from those who attended the weekend (both old hands and newbies) and from those who watched from afar, following progress on Twitter.
We’ve published the dates for CTC9 and subsequent workshops on our front page. We hope you can join us for more creative fun.
Ian, Andrew, Steve and Bruce