Category Archives: Open Data

Nationwide open data hackathon announced

code

 

In case you missed it Joey Coleman (@JoeyColeman) did a live stream video of Tony Clement’s (@TonyClementCPC) announcement of the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) at Mohawk College (@MohawkCollege) earlier this week. See the live stream video and press release about CODE below.

 

 

TORONTO, Jan. 9, 2014 /CNW/ - Hosted by the creators of Canada’s largest competitive hackathon, XMG Studio Inc., and supported by the Government of Canada, the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) aims to inspire an entire generation of developers and designers to develop apps based on open data. From February 28th to March 2nd creative do-ers, movers and shakers are invited to participate in this race against the clock and liberate the data available on http://data.gc.ca. All teams that successfully submit an application compete for Gold Sponsor OpenText’s $25,000 Grand Prize, as well as a $5,000 second place prize and a $1,000 third place prize.

“The potential economic impact of open data once innovators start putting it to use and begin distributing their applications to the public is immense,” said Ray Sharma, President, mobile games developer XMG Studio Inc. “The opportunity for developers is most obvious, but the potential impact on Canadian citizens who stand to benefit from the increased economic productivity is incredibly exciting.”

To encourage the meaningful and productive use of the released datasets CODE will begin with a day of inspirational quick-fire speeches from renowned technology and open data industry leaders at the official CODE VIP HUB in Toronto on February 28th, 2014. The Inspiration Day will be live-streamed on the CODE website and will officially end with the announcement of a theme that participants will need to adhere to in order to guarantee all participants begin on common ground.

“Our Government is excited to see Government Open Data, a previously untapped resource, fueling the development of apps that will help Canadians in their day-to-day lives,” said the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board. “Innovations like the apps created at CODE will ensure Canada remains at the forefront of the global Open Data movement.”

OpenText, Canada’s largest software company, is providing the $40,000 Gold level sponsorship contribution to the event of which $25,000 will go to the winning developer.

“OpenText’s continuing commitment to innovation is in sync with the CODE initiative and we are pleased to support application development for the benefit of Canadians,” said OpenText President and CEO Mark Barrenechea. “We are inspiring application development through our latest software development and hope to impact the opportunity for innovation using government data sets that were previously unavailable.”

CODE is open to all who are interested in developing applications with the goal of bettering the lives of Canadians, regardless of digital prowess. The specially developed matchmaking tool on the CODE website allows anyone to find the team members needed to take an idea from concept to completion. Participants can take part in CODE in two ways: they can apply to attend the centralized VIP HUB in Toronto or they can participate remotely from their homes, schools or their local coffee shop. At the end of the CODE hackathon, participants submit their completed applications online to be evaluated. In Addition to OpenText, IBM will provide Silver Level Sponsorship of $20,000.

CODE will start at 5:00 p.m. (local time) on February 28th, 2014 and continue for 48 hours, ending at 5:00 p.m. on March 2nd, 2014. Following the event, the winning applications will be evaluated on criteria such as the degree of innovation, usefulness to the Canadian public, the level of art and design polish as well as stability and how well open data sets were implemented. The top 15 teams will be invited to pitch their apps during the CODE Grand Finale – a live judging event – to a panel of industry experts and potential investors. The goal is to connect the Canadian entrepreneurs directly to investment firms and venture capitalists to ensure their apps (or ideas) are brought to market. The winning applications may go on to be released commercially either independently by the participants or in co-operation with a third party.

For more information about the event including supported platforms, team registrations and rules and regulations please visit www.canadianopendataexperience.com.

About XMG Studio:

XMG Studio Inc. is an award-winning developer and publisher of mobile games. Founded in late 2009, XMG has developed a track record for innovation excellence in mobile gaming including the release of critically acclaimed games downloadable on your iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. Based in Toronto, XMG is one of the largest indie mobile game studios in Canada. Named as one of the top global mobile games developers to watch by popular media, XMG is focused on providing creative expression through gameplay for all fans of fun.

 

A day in Hamilton transit

Originally posted on mattgrande.com

 

Over the past couple days, in the evenings, I’ve been working on a small project.

Frequent readers of my blog (ha!) know that I enjoy map making and things of that nature. I decided to do a more local project, this time, using Hamilton’s transit data.

All the routes

The script I’ve created takes a transit schedule (in GTFS format) and either places all the routes on one image, or creates thousands of images and turns them into frames in a video.

Here’s a quick overview of how it works:

  1. Determine “significant” trips (in this case, I’m only looking at weekday trips).
  2. Generate a list of stops with their times and latitudinal / longitudinal co-odrdinates.
  3. Convert the lat/long into x/y.
  4. Plot to an image.

If you want to take a deeper look into the code, here it is on github. If you want to see the image again, feel free to click here. If you’re all about the videos, maybe give this link a click?

 

 

Drupal to be adopted for new city website

Editor’s note: I received this e-mail just now about the public consultation the City of Hamilton has done regarding the city website and am re-producing it here. I’m assuming it’s OK to share it publicly since it’s about a public consultation process and the content is relevant to the local development community…

 

Hello, I’m writing to you as a participant in the City of Hamilton’s public consultation activity that took place on April 29th, facilitated by IBM.  The public consultation was part of a Web Technology Assessment that the City undertook, prior to making significant investments in new web technology. At that meeting there was a commitment that when this phase of the City’s work was completed, that we would share information with you.

I would like to provide you with an update on the results of this assessment, so that you are aware of how your feedback has contributed to the project.  City Staff presented the public consultation feedback to the Web Redevelopment Sub-Committee of Council in May.  IBM submitted a final report with recommendations to the City at the end of June.  City Staff have reviewed those recommendations and made final decisions related to the adoption of web technology for the City’s new website – specifically the web technology (CMS) platform, hosting model and development framework.

The City heard clearly from the participants in the consultation that there is a strong desire to see the City adopt an open source software solution for the City’s new web platform.  Further, there was a strong desire to see the City adopt an open collaboration model, with codebases developed by the City made available back out into the community under an open source license – provided that there are assurances that the City’s network security and citizens’ privacy are fully protected.

We are pleased to share with you that the City has made a decision to adopt the open source platform Drupal 7 for the City’s future website.  Drupal 7 is being used extensively by governments of all levels throughout North America, including the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and many municipalities.

In addition, IBM has recommended that the City participate in the Web Experience Toolkit (WET) collaboration, facilitated by the Treasury Board of Canada.  This collaboration is fully open, and includes a Github resource, with open codebases that are validated as usable and accessible, which are important criteria for the City of Hamilton.  The City will be assessing the feasibility of leveraging and contributing to this open source collaboration framework, which is also open to members of the local development community who wish to participate.

Further recommendations were made by IBM to the City and after deliberation, the City has accepted a number of those recommendations.  See the attached Executive Summary detailing the recommendations provided by IBM. Also attached is an Information Update that was provided to members of Council, detailing the process followed during the assessment and decisions made.  The one area you will note in our information update where staff differed with IBM is the hosting model.  Although staff agree with IBM’s rationale for recommending an in-house hosting model, staff have recommended that the production website initially be hosted externally in order to provide a stable platform during the redevelopment, while staff in IT acquire the necessary familiarity and skill with supporting the new environment.

The City is excited by the opportunity to use open source software for its web platform.  In addition, Staff are eager to participate in open collaborations with the local development community as well as with others from around the globe.  We hope that these decisions will also please members of the development community who have asked the City to adopt an open strategy for the website redevelopment.

As the Web Technology Assessment is now complete and Staff have confirmed the general feasibility of the recommended model, the City will be commencing the procurement process this summer and early fall to implement the new platform, hosting and development.  If you wish to be notified of future bid opportunities related to the City’s website, please register through the City’s procurement service, Biddingo.  By registering, you will be notified of all bid opportunities within your chosen categories.  In order to register, visit www.hamilton.ca/Procurement/VendorRegistrationForm and follow the instructions.  Registration is free.  Please contact Angela Mastandrea at Angela.Mastandrea@hamilton.ca if you have questions regarding our procurement process.  Please note that we expect initial bid opportunities will commence before the end of August, 2013.

If you have any questions or comments related to the City’s web redevelopment project, or the information above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks,

Jay Adams

Service Delivery Experience Advisor
City of Hamilton
905-546-2424 ext. 2221

 

Launching Hamilton’s modified Change By Us

Originally posted on Open Hamilton

 

Two weeks ago, Hamiltonians gathered at think|haus, our local makerspace, and built an alpha version of Change By Us for our city.

Bringing together developers, designers, city leaders, and citizens, the event was a unique partnership that showed local talent can achieve local solutions.

Since our meet-up, the Open Hamilton team has worked to get the project ready for final polish and launch.

Led by the efforts Alex Wagner and James Arlen, the source code of Change By Us has been modified and launched on the OH server.

Our citizen contributors have created a list of improvements and modifications to Change By Us that will enable our city to better measure feedback and suggestions as we all work to improve civic engagement.

On Thursday, we need to finalize local graphics and start the next phase of the project – Hamilton improvements that can be returned to the source code.

The Change By Us project is now in its third phrase of development and we are in a position to build Hamilton’s reputation as a locale with a strong web development sector that international powerhouses should local in.

Join us Thursday at 7pm at think|haus, 25 Dundurn St North (Hamilton), for our launch hackfest.

Please RSVP on Eventbrite here: hamonthackfest.eventbrite.ca/

Event participant Dave Heidebrecht blogged about the event, read his take here.

 

HamOntFire – Visualizing @HFS_Incidents

Originally posted on MattGrande.com

 

Awhile back, I came across the @HFS_Incidents twitter account. It broadcasts all of the calls that Hamilton Fire Services responds to.

Being an Open Data guy, I was pretty happy to see this, but I thought Twitter wasn’t the best format. If I see an event, I might have no idea where it refers to. “0 Block GERTRUDE ST” isn’t helpful unless you already know where Gertrude Street is. I also thought that this might be a good opportunity to get my hands dirty with Google Maps, Web Sockets, the Twitter API, and image generation.

The format of the tweets was pretty easy to parse, so I decided to throw together a few services and map the data out. And with that, HamOntFire was born.

At a high level, here’s what’s happening:

  • SuperWebSocket is constantly polling the Twitter API for new tweets
  • When new tweets are found…
    • I parse the data into an object (mostly to get the address into a Google-appropriate format)
    • I geocode the location using Google’s Geocoding API
    • I store the data in RavenDB
    • The event is pushed to the browser
  • The browser displays the tweets using Google Maps.

This was all fairly easy, with one exception: Both RavenDB and SuperWebSocket are dependent on Json.Net (Newtonsoft’s fantastic Json parser which has become the de facto standard), but each required very different versions (=4.0.8 and & >4.5.4, respectively). After some research, I discovered that this was easy to take care of in .Net, thanks to binding redirects:

</pre>
<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Newtonsoft.Json" publicKeyToken="30ad4fe6b2a6aeed" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="0.0.0.0-4.6.0.0" newVersion="4.0.8.0" />
 </dependentAssembly>
<pre>

This says “For any versions of Newtonsoft.Json between v0.0.0.0 and 4.6.0.0, just use version 4.0.8.0.”

Once that was taken care of, everything else was a piece of cake.

You can check out the site for yourself here, and check out the code on BitBucket here.

Post Script: I’m also trying to come up with other statistics to display on the Stats page. If you can think of any, please let me know!

 

Random Hacks of Kindness returns to Hamilton in June

 

Random Hacks of Kindness (@RandomHacks) is a joint initiative from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, NASA, and the World Bank aimed at creating a volunteer community of innovators who use their skills to make the world a better place by tackling real world problems. The first event took place in November 2009 at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California, one of the projects that came out of that evening was Tweak the Tweet. Tweak the Tweet repurposed tweets with a syntax that allowed them to be used to connect people in need with service providers during disaster situations, it was notably used during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Since then the event format has spread to cities all over the world.

 

 

Hamilton’s first RHoK event took place in December of 2011 at The Staircase (pictured above), you can read the coverage of the event by The Spectator here. The participants worked on building software that would allow you to send a text with a bus stop number, and receive a text back telling you when your next bus should arrive. I was able to attend the opening of the event and the weekend itself for a few hours. The passion in the room was wonderful, and I noticed in particular that the participants seemed to be learning new skills as they worked on the project together.

 

 

Sign up for the June 2nd Random Hacks of Kindness here!

 

The event organizer is Joey Coleman (@JoeyColeman), project lead of Open Hamilton (@OpenHamilton). With contributions from great local developers like Gavin Schulz (@GSMaverick) the Open Hamilton group has been able to create apps like Skate Hamilton to allow citizens to find out where they can skate using a very friendly user interface. Whether it’s local transit signs or representing Hamilton at the Creative Commons Salon on Open Data (see video below), Joey himself has been a tireless advocate for the usage of open data and open source for social good:

 

 

Hamilton is one of the smallest communities to host a Random Hacks of Kindness event. Though we may be a relatively smaller tech community, being able to punch above our weight and conduct a noteworthy event such as this grows and strengthens our community as participants collaboratively share, learn and build. Communities like Ottawa that have contests such as Apps4Ottawa give the development community and their good work a great spotlight. Random Hacks of Kindness lets us show the outside world what we can do here in Hamilton. I encourage anyone in the area interested in building apps and technology for social good to participate in the June 2nd Random Hacks of Kindness.

 

Hamilton’s Open Data movement continues

Open Hamilton (@OpenHamilton) organized an event last Thursday February 16th at City Hall on The 5 W’s of hamilton.ca. The group met to discuss the purpose of the city website, its design and framework, and the role of citizens in relation to the website.

The meeting featured a wide-ranging discussion on topics such as…

  • The possibility of using an open platform such as Drupal as a basis for a new city website
  • Usability issues, and the idea that the website navigation should be organized based around how citizens think about information
  • Communication issues, such as referring to the nature of the data instead of the data, and making an argument for the cost saving nature of open data apps

Michael Canton (@valleytownmedia) wrote a blog post on the meeting, available here.

The group has organized The Bay Hackathon for March 2nd to March 4th to develop more apps utilizing open data, details thus far are available here. The group is also seeking developers and data experts for garbage collections apps, details available here.

 

New Skate Hamilton Mobile UI

Originally posted on gavinschulz.posterous.com

Since Skate Hamilton launched in late December I’ve been working hard to continue to improve it and make it more useful to Hamiltonians.  To that aim I’m happy to announce some improvements that have been launched for Skate Hamilton.

List View

On devices with smaller screens or less powerful processors using the map to find rinks can be difficult and time-consuming.  So to fix that I’ve added a list view that shows you rinks nearby your chosen location as a list rather than as pins on a map.  It also features infinite scrolling which is automatically triggered by scrolling to the end of the list.

Rink Details

The first version of Skate Hamilton did not have a great screen for showing more details about a particular rink.  In this new version I’ve entirely redesigned the rink details screen to show more information and do so in a way that is more user friendly and accessible.  You can now see the rink’s phone number and access directions with one click.

Better Performance

The entire mapping interface has been rewritten to improve performance and to minimize the amount of data that needs to be loaded at any one time.  This has made browsing the map interface much more pleasant and much snappier.

Expanded Mobile Support

Skate Hamilton now also supports Blackberry devices with BBOS 6.0 and greater.  There is still work being done on support for Windows Phone 7 and hopefully we’ll have support for it soon.

While we haven’t had the opportunity to do any outdoor skating this year due to the weather, if nothing else Skate Hamilton will be in fine form for next winter.

2011 was great, let’s make 2012 even better

2011 was a great year for software in Hamilton!

The success of WeeverApps was one of the bigger stories of the year, especially after winning Lion’s Lair. In building a product based around the unfulfilled need of their clients at CartaNova to get on to the mobile web affordably, they may have demonstrated a path to creating a startup for other Hamilton entrepreneurs to follow. It wasn’t just Weever Apps though, a multitude of area startups received attention such as Athelink, Quant Interpretations, SnapPay, Verdant Analysis and more. Hamilton’s new RIC Innovation Factory helped to drive startup activity in Hamilton with their client services and events.

Mohawk College pulled off a very successful AppsForHealth conference and its IdeaWorks Lab continued to blend industry with academics. McMaster University’s Computing and Software outreach program and Gr8 Designs for Gr8 Girls event brought the fun and empowerment of understanding computer science to a new generation, a new software entrepreneurship course helped to foster a stronger startup culture, the computer science club was more active than in anytime since the 90s, and the Don Pether Incubation Centre was launched.

An exciting Open Data citizens group Open Hamilton held the first ever Random Hacks of Kindness in the city, and produced cool apps like Skate Hamilton. Hamilton’s hackerspace ThinkHaus re-opened after a move to 25 Dundurn Street North, and thanks to them we now have retro awesome lazzored key chains. Other groups like the Joomla! User Group South Western Ontario, Hamilton Linux User Group and CIPS-GH continued to meet regularly to learn, share and build connections.

At our first Startup Weekend in Hamilton, 20 of the 22 ideas pitched were dependent upon web or mobile software development. Software startups such as Sochi, GeoFresh and Caltrakr came out of the weekend. DemoCampHamilton took place regularly with demos from startups, students, an inventor, and established companies like Factor[e] and FluidMedia; offshoot pubnight StartupDrinks now occurs monthly.

 

Looking forward into 2012, we’ve got another exciting year ahead.

For starters we’ve got DemoCampHamilton5 on February 9th, the #TechTalk4HamOnt web series covering the community is set to launch February 14th, #Hack4HamOnt2 is taking place March 2nd-4th, StartupWeekend is taking place April 27th-29th, and AppsForHealth is taking place May 10th-11th. And that’s not including StartupDrinks, Innovation Nights, Lunch ‘n Learns and various other regular gatherings.

If we work together we can make 2012 even better for the community. We can talk about it, we can tweet, facebook, linkedin and blog about it, we can bring friends into it, individuals can organize more events to benefit it, and we can help each other without expecting anything in return.

If you go to AppsForHealth this year, or even if you don’t, you can help to create a storm of tweets about the conference so Hamilton and the entire eHealth world knows about it. If you go to Hack4HamOnt, you can bring an interested friend with you too. If you see local events on linkedin, you can share them with your network too. If you see a local startup with a cool product, you can blog about it. If you think that somebody could benefit from a connection, you can make it. If you can offer experience or advice to someone, you can have that coffee or beer with them. If you have the time to organize an event for the community, there are many different events other communities do that we do not.

Many little drops put together can make a big enough wave for the world outside Hamilton to take notice, and some people can see great things happening for us. Let’s go for it.

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