I took part in the excellent OpenDataChallenge in the NDRC here in Dublin this week. It was a great event, with plenty of fascinating ideas, brilliant people and lots and lots of open data being worked with.
There will shortly be even more open data to work with, in Dublin at least, when the DubLinked initiative launches in September.
The project I chose to work on was led by Jane Ruffino, and focussed on opening, tagging and imbuing with context the vast amounts of Archaeological data that are currently locked away in reports and dusty museum stores. The interactive app is aimed at people who are interested in the heritage of their city, and Jane is hoping to develop the concept further via the NDRC LaunchPad programme, and the very best of luck to her.
One of the tasks I set myself during the challenge was to grab some of the publically available data from archaeology.ie and make it available in a more app friendly manner. To do this I used Google Fusion Tables, and this is how I did it.
Before you start you’ll need a Google account. If you use gmail or other google services you probably have one already, but if not you’ll need to set one up to gain access to Fusion Tables.
That noted, the first step is to go to archaeology.ie, click through to the Map Viewer and then click on the Tools icon and choose Download data. You can filter your download by Class or by County. You should download the data in Shapefile format:
Once you have downloaded the data you need to upload it again. A guy by the name of Josh Livni has built an online service which takes .zipped up shapefiles, reformats them to Google KML and uploads them to your Fusion Tables. Simple and rather brilliant. The service is called ‘Shape to FT’ and is available at http://www.shpescape.com/
You will need to grant the service access to your Google Account for it to work it’s magic. Simply browse to the .zip file you downloaded earlier and hit upload. the import will take a minute or two. Once it’s finished just click on the Fusion Table link and you’ll be able to see your data in tabular form in Fusion Tables. To view it in Map form, simply click on ‘Visualise > Map’ From there you can choose to share the table, or even embed it in another site, like this:
There are plenty of other options, including customising the info boxes, using color-coded symbols and classifications etc. but I’ll leave those as an exercise for the reader.