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Data Mash-ups: Helping Granny and More

The Pic & Mix Project - What is it?

Pic & Mix is a project to help anybody re-use publicly available electronic data. This becomes particularly interesting if the data can be re-used in a way perhaps not first intended or thought of. Organisations and local authorities are large organisations that hold all manner of electronic data which is routinely published for public use. The problem Pic & Mix is trying to solve, is that the data -say a School Governors report is usually done in a nice glitzy PDF file – which looks lovely but is only usable in that format.

Wouldn’t it be better to release the information in way that can be fed into a database? This way the data can be picked apart, then recombined with other data to get a different report. Mixing data together to produce something new is known as creating a mashup. This can be much more useful to the person seeking or mashing up the data. All of this can be done through an Internet browser, using any device that supports Internet access, at any time.

How could it be useful to me?

Ok for example, let’s assume I need to put Granny into a care home. Someone had uploaded the following data for care homes in Kent:

• Locations
• Manager details
• Any specialist care facilities

Someone else has also uploaded:

• The local bus time tables
• Bus routes for Kent.

I then take:
The care home data + the bus information + a map.
(mix the data together) = local care homes and their specialisms conveniently displayed on a map.
I also have contact details for all the managers and the bus service route to the home. It couldn't be easier to find the right place for Granny! If I was feeling generous I could publish this new data mashup for others to use.

When will it be ready to use?

Well Pic & Mix does exist. The technology has been set-up and is in place. A selection of useful information is currently being uploaded onto the system. The system will be used by a small pilot group of users to help us iron out the wrinkles, and then we can let an increasingly number of users have access to the system. Initially there will not be much data, but over time and as more people use it, more data will be available.

Watch this space for further instalments on the Pic & Mix story! What are you doing to make your data more useful? Comment or get in touch.

-Glyn Davies
-Edited by Claire Matthews

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