European public bodies produce thousands upon thousands of datasets every year – about everything from how our tax money is spent to the quality of the air we breathe.
OpenDataChallenge.org is challenging designers, developers, journalists, researchers and others to come up with something useful, valuable or interesting for European citizens, built using open data.
There are four main strands to the competition:
- Ideas – Anyone can suggest an idea for projects which reuse public information to do something interesting or useful.
- Apps – Teams of developers can submit working applications which reuse public information.
- Visualisations – Designers, artists and others can submit interesting or insightful visual representations of public information.
- Datasets – Public bodies can submit newly opened up datasets, or developers can submit derived datasets which they’ve cleaned up, or linked together
The competition is open for 60 days – from 5th April until 5th June midnight. The winners will be selected by an all star cast of open data gurus – and announced in mid June at the European Digital Assembly in Brussels.
For more information and to enter online please visit OpenDataChallenge.org
Last month App School was mentioned here on the IIA blog and since then it has had its first run. There was a really great cross-section of students from all over the industry, which included professional developers, a CEO, a third level student and a staff member from an Institute of Technology. Most had never programmed on any Apple system before, and a few did not even own one, but by the end of the week everyone had made a lot of progress. A few days in a couple of students managed to get a 2D physics simulation going, with a button rolling around the screen and bouncing off the edges! On the last day we had a couple of Twitter clients working (and that’s including profile picture support!)
Some of the students were developing their own personal or business applications during the course, and now there are four apps (that I know about at least) on their way to the App Store from App School students. Some of these apps will display information to users that they would normally access through a website, but what can an iPhone app do that a website can’t? Well, there are few obvious ways that the user experience can be enhanced for your customers with iPhone-specific features.
Looking at the very tip top of the iceberg:
- The iPhone can store data to be made available offline. This has worked out very well for Patrick Collison‘s Encyclopedia app, which gives users access to Wikipedia when they do not have internet connectivity.
- Apps can use the iPhone’s GPS location to find information local to your customer. This is core to many travel apps, restaurant review apps, hotel reservation apps, and social networking apps.
- The user can take photos and upload them to you. Yelp‘s app allows users take photos of restaurants and upload these for other users to see. Just about any Flickr app will let you do this too.
- With a bit of effort, the multi-touch screen and the 3D graphics support can be leveraged to allow customers interact with your business in a way not possible on a desktop computer.
While on the topic of interaction, people enjoy using their iPhones and this can really help if you rely on user-submitted data for you service (“Web 2.0”, if you like to call it that). Above, I mentioned getting the phone’s GPS location, and getting access to the phone’s camera. You can go beyond GPS co-ordinates, photos, bits of user-entered text, email address/phone numbers selected from the address book though, and upload data-types specific to your service. Ocarina is one of my favourite apps and allows users play music by blowing into the microphone while pressing “holes” on the screen. This lets the iPhone work as an ocarina, a wind instrument. Music played by the user is uploaded to some server, along with the user’s location. Users than then explore a 3D earth and hear songs played by users from all around the world.
If you allow customers upload this information to you, what could you do with it? Can you think of how that could add value to your service?
There are so many exciting possibilities with this platform. If you don’t have access to an iPhone or iPod touch to try out some apps for yourself, there are plenty of video demonstrations online. There is definitely something there for everyone… after all, the App Store really does have an app for everything!
Oh I wish I had paid more attention in the classes where they were doing the really hard core programming stuff back when I was in college. I often wish this but I wished it even more when SQT Training recently joined the IIA and I had a chat with the charming Lily Collison on the phone and she told me about App School.
I asked Lily to tell me more about App School.
There is a business opportunity for those who can develop iPhone applications. We here at SQT Training in conjunction with Patrick Collison and Mulley Communications will present a new 5 day training course in the development of applications for the iPhone. The course termed App School teaches people how to create iPhone applications for release on Apple’s App Store.
There is interest from all manner of people and Patrick will be giving a talk at the Irish Computer Society on Tuesday 14th July.
If you think you have what it takes to make a killer iPhone App, can you please bottle it and give some to me? Details of the course can be found at www.appschool.ie. Sign up and when you’re rich maybe you can set up a funding programme for wannabe coders like me…?
Handknit iPhone from daddytypes.com. Click image to find out how to make your own!
This week’s case study has been written by Gordon Jenkinson of Jenerate.
Bacardi Ireland distributor, Edward Dillon & Co, traditionally used normal micro sites such as www.blive.ie to promote their sponsorship of music events on the Internet throughout the year including the hugely popular Oxegen and Electric Picnic festivals.
In 2008 they looked at the possibility of using social networking to get better targeting and some viral penetration to a wider audience. Given the target audience and the fact that Bebo and MySpace were not receptive to alcohol advertising, Facebook was chosen as the platform upon which to build an interest in the brand, to run competitions in association with the Blive events and generally to help spread the word on the Bacardi Blive sponsored events throughout the year.
A Facebook profile page was set up and maintained as well as a Facebook application to manage competitions and acquire information for the Bacardi eCRM database. The general idea of the competition was a chance to win VIP tickets for you and your friends through a custom built Facebook application.
To encourage the viral spread of this through Facebook in the run up to the events the winner was the Facebook user that had the most friends with the application added to their profile. This gave users control over winning the competition rather than it being a pure lottery.
User positions were updated hourly and notifications sent to entrants on a regular basis telling them how many more friends they needed to add to get to first place. This information had the desired effect and entrants realising they only needed 10 more friends to get to the winning position started sending it around to increase there position. As well as this, they could see the top 5 people and also there current position at any time throughout the competition.
Banner advertising on popular Irish sites and flyers handed out throughout the year were used to seed the initial entrants and get the competition going. Other spot prizes for fans of the page and users of the application were given out between the events to encourage participation and interaction with the Bacardi Ireland Facebook presence.
As part of the competition sign-up, entrants were asked some brand questions to gauge brand recognition and opinions. Details were collected and stored in the Bacardi eCRM database and used for future campaigns and event notifications.
The final result was an almost four fold increase in the number of competition entrants and an even bigger increase in term of brand interaction across the Bacardi Facebook profiles and the blive.ie website.
A large aid to this interaction was the use of Facebook photo galleries where people were photographed at Blive events and encouraged to tag themselves in the Facebook albums. These photos were not only available on Facebook but also pulled directly from Facebook into the blive.ie website. These photo galleries created significant post event traffic to the Blive.ie websites as well as interaction and sign-up to the Bacardi Facebook pages.
One of the main lessons learnt from this successful experiment with Facebook was to create an application that runs with or without Facebook. As part of the process visitors were asked if they had a Facebook account and were directed to the normal competition site or to the Facebook one. Almost as many entrants came through the normal site as through the Facebook application.
Also, the integration of the Facebook photo albums using the Facebook API allowed the viewing of tagged photos within Facebook or from the normal site. It’s also useful to copy or mirror interactions with Facebook pages onto your normal site this allows visitors to what would normally be a static site to see some comments, events and other banter focused around the brand.
With the introduction of Facebook Connect late last year the options for this type of website integration to Facebook is even greater, allowing completely Facebook-integrated websites.
The other more complex aspect is ensuring that the promotion of the Facebook pages and application are sufficient to seed it and the rewards for sign-up are clear and worthwhile.
Monitoring of visitors and the decisions they make is very important. This was monitored using analytics during the campaign and the sign-up pages and the navigation from the initial page through to competition sign-up were optimised for more competition entries.
The IIA supports responsible drinking and encourages readers of this post to visit www.drinkaware.ie.
Some of you may remember the FOWA Road trip where Carsonified visited some major cities including Dublin. They received such a great reception from the web community there so are really excited to be launching the first ever FOWA Dublin.
Expect a fabulous debut with a line up including:
- Blaine Cooke (ex Developer at Twitter)
- David Heinemeier Hansson (37signals & Ruby on Rails)
- Mike Butcher (TechCrunch UK)
- Simon Willison (Co-creator of the Django web framework)
- Ryan Carson (Carsonified)
- Emma Persky (Trampoline Systems)
- Eoghan McCabe & Des Traynor (Contrast)
- Matthew Ogle (Last.fm)
FOWA will be covering topics such as:
- How to sell your web app – Lessons learned from the acquisition of DropSend.com
- How to use APIs to build powerful mash-upsThe secret to making money online
- How to build amazing web apps – Lessons learned from building Twitter.com
- The future is Ruby without Rails
- How to build desktop apps that help your web app succeed
- Building content rich websites using Django web framework
The date for your diaries is Friday 6th March 2009.
The event will take place at Liberty Hall – http://www.libertyhall.ie/index.php?article=the_venue in the heart of Dublin, and in true FOWA style will be followed by a few drinks at the after party!
Tickets are €175 but we are releasing 200 for just €115!
Go to the booking page – http://events.carsonified.com/fowa/2009/dublin/book to get yours.