Open Data from Government is a still in its early stages in Ireland. The data that has been released so far has some interesting aspects and a few problems.

There are a few groups pushing for more open data in Ireland, one group Open Data is publishing data they have found about Ireland and making it machine readable. And are also making mash-ups of data. So far they don’t have much, but as more data is opened, I’m sure they will make some interesting mash-ups and applications.

So far the biggest effort is called Dublinked, its a collaboration between the 4 Dublin Councils and NUI Maynooth and has so far made a lot of data open. Some local authorities are better then others, I have to say that Fingal County Council is doing the best.

There is a load of data in the Dublinked data store. I’m more inclined to look at its utility to developers, but this is a very narrow view of it. The idea of opening this information is to democratise it and allow everyone to see it.

Although if I was going to make one criticism of the Dublinked effort, Its that the data isn’t in consistent formats, encodings, coordinate systems, etc. This is probably more to do with how they where using the data and who they got it from. For example spatial data is all over the shop. While some data sets are offered with multiple file formats to make it easier to use, some aren’t. And the use of two different geographic coordinate systems makes it all the more difficult for people to understand. For example, some datasets are in Irish Transverse Mercator others are in WGS 84. (There may be others, but I haven’t encountered them)

You’ll want to parse all this data before you use it for something. But its still good to have authoritative data and its not just for app developers.

Say your holding a conference and want to provide a list of local attractions that your attendees might be interested in, say local heritage sites.

Or you want to know the location of Dublin Airport for your conference site.

Another example is the Transport Feed Data for Dublin Bus, Luas, Irish Rail and Bus √Čireann which can be used to make a route planning app, the National Transport Authority will start providing this data to Google (finally) and has plans for an API.

Yep, there are huge heaps of data for transport.

That’s just 1000 stops from the set of National Public Transport nodes, I count 17438 in total.

Of course the mack-daddy of open data in Ireland is still Open Street Map, all of it user generated and of reasonably good quality, you can use the data for any manner of things, from making your own custom maps to writing your own route planner to making stunning map visualizations.

I’ll leave it there, did I forget something? So there is a lot more to Open Data in Ireland, National Government has been slow to get in on the act but like all things in Ireland, we’re getting there.

Yet another attempt at keeping a blog, I hope to make this less of a catalogue of my thoughts (nobody is too interested in those anyway) and more of a loose collection of posts on many of my various assorted projects, interests and maybe even some of my work as a PhD student.

I decided against using Wordpress or similar software to power this site and instead to use a static blog, this is all done using Octopress and I like the result so far. (Not that there is anything wrong with Wordpress, but for what I’m planing to do, its overkill.)

The lovely theme I’ve used is called Greyshade. I had started work on something very similar a few months ago, but other stuff came up and I never came back to it. But I much prefer this theme to my own effort.

Anyway, awkward introductions over, I hope you will join me soon for some actual content.