First open data released by Trafford Intelligence and Innovation Lab – blue plaques

Blue plaque

We have released our first open dataset from underneath the banner of the Trafford Intelligence and Innovation Lab. A list of 16 Blue Plaques (actually 15 blue and 1 red) was previously available on Trafford Council’s Local History site, in 4 HTML tables, with little supporting information.

As part of a larger exercise around understanding and mapping points of interest in Trafford, we decided to turn the Blue Plaque data into an open dataset. Because there are only 16 elements, we decided to include spatial data, as well as a link to a Wikipedia article, if one exists.

So we’ve uploaded a csv file to our filestore, InfoTrafford, from where the file can be accessed. We’ve also added an entry to data.gov.uk.

In addition to this, we also used the data to create a map showing the spread of blue plaques across Trafford. This map needs a lot of work to make it nice, both visually, and in the back (don’t look at the source code – my AJAX guy’s tied up until next week..!), but it’s a good start for providing a baseline for a lot of asset based stuff we’ll be doing. Some of the markers are approximate, so we’ve also asked that if anyone should see a blue plaque on their travels, they could take a photo with a location-enabled smartphone, and tweet us (thanks Leeds Art Crawl!)

The map highlights quite neatly that there appears to be a lack of blue plaques in the Sale area. Now I know that James Prescott Joule, the physicist who first proved the relationship between mechanical energy and heat, lived and died in Sale, so perhaps he’d be a worthy recipient of one, to restore a bit of parity.

Next steps for us are to turn the data into rdf, and upload to the GMDSP quad store. If only I could get Open Refine working on a corporate IT environment…

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