20 MPH

Code The City 20: History and Culture

Our next hack weekend will be our twentieth! And we are very excited to have hit this milestone.

Many of our volunteers have been involved in multiples of our events and we look forward to welcoming them all back for this special weekend, which will be fully online. It takes place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August 2020. Save the dates. 

If you’ve been to any of our recent sessions you will have picked up, and hopefully share, our enthusiasm not only for creating and making available open data (something that we’ve championed since our first event six years ago) but also for using Wikidata, WIki Commons and Wikipedia to capture and share our city’s rich history and cultural heritage.

So, we’re back on to History and Culture for this event, with a range of challenges set out below.

You can already book yourself a ticket!


We’ve got an exciting, and growing list of projects below which are suited to all abilities and skillsets. So you can easily get involved in tasks from transcribing some records, to mapping, exploratory data analysis, 3D modelling, to nipping out to take some photos for the memorials team.

Mapping Memorials to Women

This project will see volunteers work on adding items to Wikidata for memorials to women in and around Aberdeen, and items for the women which they commemorate. There will be opportunities then to use that data to create maps and other visualisations. Much more detail on this challenge can be found here.

Grave of Jessie Seymour Irvine, St Machar Cathedral by Watty62 on Wikicommons.
Grave of Jessie Seymour Irvine, St Machar Cathedral by Watty62 on Wikicommons.

Mesolithic Deeside

Mesolithic Deeside is a group of archaeologists, students and local volunteers investigating the river Dee area 10,000 years ago. They’ve been gathering flints on seasonal field-walking trips and recording the data from the outputs of those allowing them to map Mesolithic Deeside.

East Park mesolithic finds
Map of East Park mesolithic finds

At CTC20 we have the opportunities for Data Scientists, GIS specialists, those working in 3D, AR and VR as well as web developers.

  • Can we try to identify what are the physical characteristics of the sites with the highest concentration of finds and then use that analysis to try to identify other similar sites between Drumoak and Aberdeen? And between Aboyne and the source of the Dee (we have already worked on the area in between).  Once we have identified the potential sites by physical characteristics we could then filter out the developed areas, like the water works at Shakkin Briggie, to leave us with target areas for test pitting.
  • How could we better visualise the information we have, probably in some sort of online format. Could this be in 3D, or use AR or VR in some way? What platforms lend them selves to prototyping the approaches?
  • Could we be analysing the data we have in some way that we have not considered or are not yet aware of?

Register of Returned Convicts of Aberdeen (1869-1939)

The Register of Returned Convicts for Aberdeen (1869-1939) contains 285 entries, with many of those before 1900 having accompanying images alongside the details of each individual. While a partial transcription of the volume has been carried out, important data including height, which is a key indicator of general health and nutrition, have been omitted. The challenge for Code the City would be to complete the transcription as well as linking the addresses of the criminals on their discharge to map data to give an idea of their distribution across the city.


Jane Clark's record
Jane Clark’s record

Also, with the majority of the pictures in the public domain, there is the opportunity to add them to Wikicommons as well as to colourise (some of) these to bring their faces to life.

Aberdeen Built Ships

Begun at CTC19 but not yet completed. this project involved AAGM staff and a volunteer working on scraping the Aberdeen Built Ships site for the data there with a view to getting it into Wikidata.

Data has been scraped and it should be possible to create Wikidata entries from it in the future, all linked back to the online ABS system using a new identifier in Wikidata. Since them we’ve completed the identification of which ships already exist in Wikidata. The next step will be to use Quickstatements or another tool to bulk upload data to the platform.

We could also then potentially identify ships in the Aberdeen Harbour arrivals that were know to have been built in the city. A more detailed write-up is provided in this blog post and a more defined list of tasks can be found on the Github repo.

Aberdeen Harbour Arrivals

For some time we’ve had more than 20 volunteers working  on transcribing the arrival logs for Aberdeen harbour (1914-1920). You can read more about that in this blog post.

We’re starting to built up a good idea of what was coming into the harbour and from where during the period from First World War. We will even be able to trace what the weather was like on any given day!

Volunteers use the guide for transcription participants which we created. The transcription work by the team wrote up their work in detail. The work became the basis of a prototype website built by our own Andrew Sage.

There is still more work to be done here including completing the transcription.

  • What could we do with the application of coding and data science?
  • How could we use NLP and other tools to analyse the data, create timelines: analyse movements patterns and how these varied over time / during wartime.
  • Could we create Twitter bots – ” On this day 100 years ago The Vulture (a Schooner, 328 tons) arrived from Leipzig under master Schmidt carrying Timber.”
  • Can we move the website to a new hosted platform and improve on its functionality even further.

And more

We expect a few more challenges to come in, if the above weren’t enough!

Sign up now and encourage your colleagues and friends to do so too!

See you there.

Ian, Andrew, Bruce, Steve