Posts tagged location

We love open data. In fact we love open data so much that we’ve got a whole site dedicated to it, and we’re constantly looking at ways of making our data easier to work with for everybody involved.¬†We’re also constantly looking at what new data we can glean, scrape and make do really cool things; which is why I’m really excited to tell you that we’ve got some delicious new things available over our Locations API.

First of all, I’d like to stress that this data is in no way complete. There’s a major project currently underway with our colleagues in Estates to replace their facilities management software, which when it’s completed will massively improve the quality of an awful lot of our data. In the meantime, here’s what’s new in our buildings data.

For all the social media junkies out there, some Foursquare data. We’re now including Foursquare venue IDs for buildings where we know them, and our Foursquare curation team are constantly adding to our brand page, making sure venues are correctly located, categorised and full of good tips. You can take a look at Foursquare’s own API if you’re interested in mashing things together – I’ve already got an RFID Check-In machine.

Next, outline data and latitude/longitude. You may remember that a feature of one of our old APIs was some lat/long data which could be used to work out where buildings were in a physical space. We’ve now started taking that a step further, not only providing just latitude and longitude but also providing an array of lat/long points which draw the outline of a building! Drop the points onto a map and draw a closed polygon between them and you’re done.

Thirdly, related to the second one, you can now request that any call to /locations2/buildings returns its output as a KML file, just by setting the ‘format’ parameter to ‘kml’. This means that you can grab KML for all the buildings on the Brayford campus (as an example) just by requesting /locations2/buildings?campus=brayford&format=kml. KML files are directly compatible with Google Earth, and can even work directly with Google Maps, overlaying a map of our buildings which is generated on-the-fly.

Up next in the glorious race for data is updated documentation, better and easier access controls (and the long awaited application registration), and working with some colleagues in our Social Computing Research Centre to crack open some of our energy usage data.

One of the cooler things we’re working on at the moment is location awareness for our web applications. This lets us do useful things, like adjust page content based on where you are. The new Room Bookings system, for example, will detect your campus and automatically set your default location accordingly. Even things like the new Library service (“Jerome”) will be able to intelligently change things like library contact details and opening times based on where you are.

Give it a go. Visit from anywhere on campus (either wired or wirelessly) and it should tell you where you are. Sorry that it doesn’t look too pretty, but it’s basically a testing front-end to an API service we’re cooking up.