OpenDataCommunities API: Data Discovery and Visualizations for UK neighborhoods

Mark Boyd
Jul. 30 2013, 12:00PM EDT

New tools and accessibility options have been added to the Opendatacommunities API to extend ease-of-access to the UK Government’s five-star dataset managed by the Department for Communities and Local Governments. Datasets include neighborhood-level analysis of housing and homelessness, quality of life indicators, and wellbeing measures.

A showcase of visualizations and interactive dashboards has been created to demonstrate how developers, data analysts and local communities can use the open datasets to better understand the interplay of economic and lifestyle factors on specific neighborhoods across the UK.

New tools and process were introduced to manage the OpenDataCommunities service at the start of July. This included a system to ensure the faster deployment of new Government-collected data. The OpenDataCommunities API aims to allow users to retrieve the government’s official linked government sources including data from Local Government finance, fire and rescue, housing and planning. In reality, only 83 datasets are currently available, mostly focused on the societal wellbeing indicators. Developers can request priority access to other datasets based on their needs. Latest data uploaded includes end of first quarter 2013 data on homelessness and the latest projections on household population dynamics for each neighborhood to 2021.

Speaking about the new processes for uploading the latest data, Steve Peters wrote on the OpenDataCommunities blog:

"We have the technology and a robust mechanism to automatically generate 5-star statistical data internally, and quickly make it available within OpenDataCommunities. I am therefore confident that we can quickly bring new statistical data on stream, and also keep it in sync with future updates: e.g. so that content in OpenDataCommunities is released alongside future editions of our statistical releases."

OpenDataCommunities has also introduced a new data table explorer so that analysts can better mine data and download preferred results in CSV file format.

Developers can register for an API key to receive prioritized support and unthrottled access to API-retrieved data. Unregistered access still remains possible but may be restricted to request limits in future. The OpenDataCommunities API allows developers to retrieve data responses in JSON, RDF, Turtle and N-triples formats.

Some of the data visualizations created using the datasets include an interactive map of prices paid for land and properties, maps shading areas by levels of wellbeing and deprivation, and demographic data mapped at the local neighborhood level.

A Google Group is also hosted to encourage developer discussion on how the API is being used.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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