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Make apps4halifax – Intro

Halifax Regional Municipality is introducing ‘apps4halifax‘, its first-ever Open Data App Contest. Similar initiatives have been successful in Ottawa, Edmonton and many other cities worldwide.

Residents can submit ideas or code apps using the HRM Open Data catalog. The best submissions may win cash prizes and awards.

The Open Data catalog is implemented using the Socrata Open Data Portal. The SODA 2.0 restful web service API allows developers to query and consume live data from the public data-sets.

The Socrata developer documentation explains how to use queries to endpoints, supported datatypes and response formats.

The currently available data-sets include Crime occurrences, Building types, Buildings, Bus Routes, Bus Stops, Bylaw Areas, Civic Addresses, Community Boundaries, Park Recreation Features, Parks, Polling Districts, Streets, Trails, Transit Times, Waste collections and Zoning Boundaries.

You can construct web service query URLs like this:

You can determine the RESOURCE-ID for a dataset like this:

  1. Go to https://www.halifaxopendata.ca/
  2. Click on a dataset name
  3. Click the “Export” button
  4. Under “Download As”, copy one of the links, e.g. JSON
  5. The resource id is the part of the URL between “views/” and “/rows.json”

As an extremely useful example, you could query fun things like all HRM garbage collections occurring on Wednesdays:

http://www.halifaxopendata.ca/resource/ga7p-4mik.json?collect=’WEDNESDAY’

As a simple and quick way to create web pages that interact with these web services you could use JQuery and its getJSON() function.

I will probably follow up with more posts on this topic soon.

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