Why did I change my mind about open data?

Knowledge against fear and suspicion – open data is beneficial

Generally disagreeing about any kind of data sharing, I realized my behavior was mostly based on fear. Fear is a major impediment to anything innovative and to any kind of change. Why did I change my mind about open data? It is about differentiating between public and private data, and about the fact that data made public are first of all edited.

New work – new ideas

In November 2015, I started working at Liip and I had a lot of new projects and inputs. The core of my work is the same, I completely changed field though. I stand now in the middle of a flow of innovative ideas and energy, which is very motivating and helps me be constantly open-minded.
One of my projects, last spring, was the coordination of Liip’s involvement at the annual opendata.ch conference. No, I cannot communicate about anything if I don’t understand it! Otherwise I would write complete bulls**t, people would notice it and Liip would lose all credibility on the subject. In other words, I had to know what I was talking about in order to be able to talk about it.

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Time for Coffee available on Android

Do you have time to take a coffee before your next public transportation connexion? Time for Coffee is a project initially started by François Terrier among friends in 2015.  We continued the work to make it available on further devices. 

When the Apple Watch came out, a few Liipers had the idea to make an app for it because having the next departures on the wrist was a perfect use case for this kind of device. The app received quite a lot of attentions in Swiss newspapers and received a Silver in the best of swiss apps in the category “Wearables & New Devices”. Since the Android world deserved also our attention, we made the app available for Android and Android Wear watches. The app is downloadable on the Play Store.

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Big leap forward for Opendata

make.opendata.ch This year, the second make.opendata.ch-hackdays took place in Geneva and Zurich. More than 120 developers, designers and ideators including a handful of Liipers met to work on “public transport”, which was set as the hackday’s main focus. A goal was to show to the SBB and the public what open data sources allow and how they can be used.

The Liipers present at the hackdays got involved in some of the projects:

Zurich: The Swiss Public Transport API

Team: Colin Frei, Danilo Bargen, Dominic Lüchinger, Fabian Vogler, Roland Schilter

Following our internal Transport API hackday in the beginning of the year, some others joined us to continue working on the Rest-API. The goal of the project was to provide a public transport Rest-API that allows every interested developer to create his own applications based on public transport schedules. Basically the API transforms the complex SBB XML response into a JSON format. Documentation and examples can be found at transport.opendata.ch.

During the two days, the team including three Liipers reacted on user requests and implemented new features to the existing API. Besides little changes, we added a location-based station search as well as the output of the full stage details.

Today, the API is already in use by several projects, including a command line interface and a wheelchair map.

Feel free to use it, extend it, and share it. Feedback is welcome as well.

Zurich: Transport Flows visualization

Team: Benjamin Wiederkehr, Dagmar Muth, Ilya Boyandin, Joel Bez, Patrick Stählin, Patrick Zahnd, Sylke Gruhnwald, Thomas Preusse

In the second project Patrick got involved in visualizing Transport Flows. Adapting the idea of the Villevivante project, the goal was to visualize the Swiss transport flows nicely and in an interactive way.

We collected the data based on the swisstrains.ch JSON output and processed it with Python scripts. With the given information, we created some interactive graphics using the JavaScript visualization framework d3. It turned out that it just perfectly matched our requirements and provided a wide range of features.

In the end we were able to visualize facts like sector-based train speeds and counts. We also visualized the transport hubs on a minute and hour basis.

An interesting statistic is the transport hub list, especially that Lucerne is the number three after Zurich and Berne. Also interesting is that the fastest railway line is still the “Bahn2000” between Berne and Zurich, which some of us use regularly.

The result can be found on flows.transport.opendata.ch.

Geneva: SiesteApp

Team: Andreas Kuendig, Benoît Pointet, Raphaël Halloran

The Geneva hackday crowd grew many interests which were more focused on the Geneva region, since a delegation of the territorial information systems department of Geneva (SITG) was present and provided great help and insights in the available geo-informations for the city. Topics like “bike mobility” or “multi-modality” got under heavy scrutiny, discussion and ideation.

Benoît got involved in a team who focused on a vague but non-the-less fascinating topic around individuality, emotions and comfort. He ended up working on a mobile app to help people find out where they could take a nap in Geneva; have a rest or just breath some fresh air in a quiet (or even dog-free) environment.

Follow the project at http://make.opendata.ch/doku.php?id=project:sieste.

Conclusion

Not only in the eyes of the Liip attendees the hackday was a success, but also in those of the participants and of the many institutional delegations visiting the hackday, like the SBB participants, who were impressed and willing to support the Swiss public transport API.

– Andreas Amsler, Benoît Pointet, Colin Frei, Fabian Vogler, Patrick Zahnd, Roland Schilter

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First Swiss Open Data Camp 30th of September

Open Data Camp

Not only as sponsor but as deeply convinced people of the power of openness we love to announce the first Swiss Open Data Camp. There are already many attendees but more are welcome. See you there!

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