From the 17th-18th of September I attended the Geohack event at FOSS4G conference in Nottingham. The event was sponsored by the MetOffice in partnerships with many other of organizations within Environmental Science to Services Partnership. A number of challenges were presented for hackers to work on, these are listed here http://2013.foss4g.org/geohack/challenges/ . As part of the LTURF project I have found myself working with a number of APIs trying to extract any information for around Newcastle. This lead me to picking the outdoor event challenge as it was making use of several APIs http://2013.foss4g.org/geohack/challenges/events/ .
This aim of this challenge was to estimate the effect that weather has on outdoor events in the UK. The first task was to retrieve information about any outdoor events happening in a given location. This was achieved by using the skiddle.com, an events listing website, and their API. Which allows you to search for events planned using a point and a buffer. Once we had the events the next goal was to gain an estimate of the number of people attending each event. This task was assigned to me, and for this I used both the Facebook and the twitter APIs. With Facebook returning the numbers of attending and maybe responses to the event, and twitter returning a popularity score. The final step was to use Met Office DataPoint API to get the weather forecast of the event. These were then all integrated into a very simple web portal. This is live here , we had little over 24 hours to complete this task so the portal is very much substance over style.
At 1pm on the second day everybody had to stop developing and then present they work for it to be judged. It was very interesting to see what the other groups had achieved , with some of the achievements being very impressive given the amount of development time. Phonegap, which is a free and open source framework that allows you to create mobile apps using standardized web APIs across many platforms, was used by a number of groups. And is clearly a very powerful tool with some groups having a completed app developed in just 24 hours. Unfortunately my group didn’t finish in the top 3 which I’m certain is only because the complexity of our app was hidden, in short we lost because it was too good.
The event was brilliantly run with plenty of food, drink and electricity to go round and I would like to thank the members of the Met office and the foss4g volunteers for organizing the event. And Also Steven Citron-Pousty who setup the OpenShift server for our app.