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Don't just map it!

Lessons from StreetWire, PlanningAlerts and GroupsNearYou

BBC February 2009

Richard Pope

A bit about StreetWire

A categorised-source-agnostic-geo-aggregator-and-alerter-omatic!

(it takes in stuff from the web, api's and users, geo-locates it, then spews it out as a feed and email alerts)

*Anything* that has a single point in time and space qualifies.

(click back once you've click play, quicktime being odd)

...and a bit about PlanningAlerts & GroupsNearYou



Where are the maps? People like maps.

Maps are great for viewing patterns in one or two datasets, pinpointing a place, or when you dont know an exact starting location (browsing).

... but less than good for filtering large datasets.

StreetWire: distance + recentness make interestingness.

PlanningAlerts: tell me about anything in my street, neighbourhood or town.

GroupsNearYou: distance, overlap of groups and size of group.

Think of location as one of several available axes, or a starting point for derivatives.

Weird example ... Mutual Climatic Range Method.

location transfered to temperature, used for estimating past temperatures.

Distributing hyper local information

Why bother?

We rarely work where we live. We are ignorant of what is going on around us. This weakens communities.

Example: Brixton Drug Treatment Centre campaign.

Direct neighbours consulted. Anti campaign.

News spreads via Urban 75. Successful Pro campaign.

Can hyper-local information can be a substitute for chatter in the post office que?

Passive information absorption. Ping people with relevant things.

Twitter or SMS alerts for tightly defined events?

Phone vibrates when walking past a place with a gig on?

Generic mood values for places

Sticking things together

Link direct to the source. It's other peoples information.

Geocoding in the UK is hard

(postcode db not free, no regular street naming, local names etc)

...but not impossible

do the best you can, then exclude or appologise for mistakes

or get users to correct them?

(coming soon)

StreetWire is really just a big fat extendable scraping engine (with a pretty logo).

Geocoding degrades gracefully:

geoRSS lat long
partial postcode
street term extraction
area term extraction

Steal postcodes!

You can't do this without postcodes. Royal mail is in the wrong.

Example: geocoding BBC local news.

1) Region:

2) Street and area:

3) try and locate region + street + area

... or you could start adding geoRSS and geo:microformats ;)