Program your city : designing an urban integrated open data API
Rittenbruch, Markus, Foth, Marcus, Robinson, Ricky, & Filonik, Daniel (2012) Program your city : designing an urban integrated open data API. In Hyvönen, Helena & Salmi, Eija (Eds.) Proceedings of Cumulus Helsinki 2012 Conference: Open Helsinki – Embedding Design in Life, Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, Aalto University, Helsinki, pp. 1-14.
Cities accumulate and distribute vast sets of digital information. Many decision-making and planning processes in councils, local governments and organisations are based on both real-time and historical data. Until recently, only a small, carefully selected subset of this information has been released to the public – usually for specific purposes (e.g. train timetables, release of planning application through websites to name just a few).
This situation is however changing rapidly. Regulatory frameworks, such as the Freedom of Information Legislation in the US, the UK, the European Union and many other countries guarantee public access to data held by the state. One of the results of this legislation and changing attitudes towards open data has been the widespread release of public information as part of recent Government 2.0 initiatives. This includes the creation of public data catalogues such as data.gov.au (U.S.), data.gov.uk (U.K.), data.gov.au (Australia) at federal government levels, and datasf.org (San Francisco) and data.london.gov.uk (London) at municipal levels. The release of this data has opened up the possibility of a wide range of future applications and services which are now the subject of intensified research efforts. Previous research endeavours have explored the creation of specialised tools to aid decision-making by urban citizens, councils and other stakeholders (Calabrese, Kloeckl & Ratti, 2008; Paulos, Honicky & Hooker, 2009). While these initiatives represent an important step towards open data, they too often result in mere collections of data repositories. Proprietary database formats and the lack of an open application programming interface (API) limit the full potential achievable by allowing these data sets to be cross-queried.
Our research, presented in this paper, looks beyond the pure release of data. It is concerned with three essential questions: First, how can data from different sources be integrated into a consistent framework and made accessible? Second, how can ordinary citizens be supported in easily composing data from different sources in order to address their specific problems? Third, what are interfaces that make it easy for citizens to interact with data in an urban environment? How can data be accessed and collected?
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