Stuff on our mind
Is open data really that open?
The importance of open data
More countries open up their government data. That’s good news. Governments are therefore more transparent, it thrives commercial initiatives and creates new insights which makes our world a better place. However I notice a trend where Open Data is not that open.
Crime map Toronto
Toronto police offers a crime Indicator Map which includes crimes like robbery and theft. Valuable information for decision makers and insurance companies to improve the safety of the city of Toronto. However the data provided doesn’t stimulate this at all. First of all the data can only be accessed as a viewer. In order to perform analytics and discover trends you need to have access to the raw data. Secondly the map only shows crimes of the past week. This makes this tool practically worthless. You need trends over several years in order to know whether parts of the city are getting more safe or just less safe.
The Dutch Police
The national police of the Netherlands handed us their crime statistics of the past year. Way better than the crime data of Toronto but it also doesn’t tell the whole story. Only a few crimes were being reported and postal code 4 level zones with less than a 1,000 people were left out. Car thefts were only reported at postal code 2 level. I know the data is available at neighborhood level because in the past we received the data at this detailed level. We analyzed and processed this data for an insurance companies. They didn’t use the data to increase their premium. No. They started crime awareness campaigns. With the current data restrictions these campaigns become less effective.
What is happening? First of all I notice it is fear. The crime data for instance is far from perfect. We have seen that ourselves when processing the data. Police agents on duty make mistakes when entering crimes into police databases. Wrong addresses for instance can make crimes disappear in a database. When making data public these mistakes can be discovered. Many years ago we were being discussed in the Dutch Parliament. Sounds flattering. Doesn’t it? Several chiefs of Police didn’t like that we showed police crimes to the public. They believed that the chief of Police and the Mayor should decide on whether to declare a neighborhood safe or not. Based on what. A hunch? Statistics aren’t perfect but they don’t lie. Every data analyst knows data isn’t flawless. However it is far better than a hunch.
I like data analytics and the enormous possibilities big data has. We can really change things for the good. We can better understand patterns so we know how to make neighborhoods more safe, improve traffics flows in cities and better understand diseases. However when you don’t tell the whole story things can go horribly wrong. Wasn’t it former president Bush who invaded Iraq because he thought Iraq had nuclear weapons? Data analytics and satellite images showed no proof. Islamic State (IS) is a bad result of that decision.
Don’t be afraid and let’s make sure governments and commercial companies work together in making this world an awesome place to live and work by being transparent and open! This way we can act upon intelligence and not a hunch.
Sensor technology and real-time monitoring of the environment is increasing in popularity. Companies are trying to find smart ways to integrate this technology into their existing business processes. Spotzi is continuously working together with companies to gain more insights in how sensor technology can make business processes more efficient. One of these companies is BAM Infra. One of the biggest construction companies in the Netherlands. Lately, Spotzi presented their sensor technology at BAM Infra, where we discussed the possibilities of sensor technology at construction sites. This led to some interesting insights and new perspectives.
During this interactive presentation, Spotzi and BAM Infra discussed the application of sensor technology at construction sites with BAM experts. A discussion that led to some interesting perspectives on how sensor technology can increase the efficiency of existing business procedures at BAM Infra. Especially the monitoring with temperature sensors and noise (dB) level meters at (busy) construction projects can avoid a lot of complaints at an early stage. Like noise complaints of residents, but also the pouring of concrete at certain temperatures.
Spotzi and the BAM were very pleased with the outcomes of this interactive presentation and we, Spotzi. Sensor technology definitely shows great promise for an Internet of Things future.
Do want to know more about the benefits of sensor technology for your business? Please contact us and we are happy to discuss the possibilities of sensor technology with you.
Building a mapping platform for Dummies
Building a mapping platform for dummies. That is the challenge we at Spotzi have taken upon ourselves. There are some great products and tools out there. But they either aim at Mapping (GIS) Professionals or Developers. There is however a large group of people in need of geospatial data. They usually work at small and medium enterprises but have no time to join a Training or learn the development skills needed for some mapping tools out there. All great powerful tools with impressive functionalities but not suited for the average person.
In January this year (2016) we silently launched a Datashop and a basic map editor. This is the result of years of exploration, working with non GIS-clients and hard work. We learned that our clients need content to start with and easy tools to map their own data. Currently our main focus is offering Postal Code and Census Data. For the average GIS professional not really exciting datasets. However for many people out there hard to reach and very needed data.
We were proven to be right. Immediately after the launch of our datashop small and medium enterprises started mapping their own rich and intelligent business data at postal code or census level. Mapping campaigns, managing the location of trainers and exploring new areas for trampoline parks. These are just a few examples of clients who joined us the last months. However large companies like a Telecommunication company in Canada and a Real Estate website in the Netherlands use our tools. What do they have in common? The people working with Spotzi are no GIS professionals and have no development skills.
Today (9 May 2016) we have taken the simplicity of mapping again one step further. The geocoding of data will now automatically take place during the import of Excel sheets or CSV files. Geocoding will always have its challenges but it is a great step ahead in easily mapping your own location data.
As of now each month we will release interesting tools and data which will change the way we used to do mapping. Our road-map looks very interesting and we are kind of proud of the results. Therefore we will start shouting a little bit harder. We are confident that Spotzi will start to appeal GIS and non-GIS professionals all over the world.
Spotzi presents during Geo4Web
A Usable Spatial Data Publication Platform to enhance the communication between Municipalities and Citizens
In November 2015, Spotzi won a testbed of Geonovum, named “A Usable Spatial Data Publication Platform”. Geonovum is a Dutch governmental organization that is specialized in the standardization of public data and provides standards that are needed for this purpose. Geonovum started this testbed to increase the sharing of public data between municipalities and citizens. Something that has much similarities with the mission and vision of Spotzi.
The goal of this testbed was to make public spatial data better findable. Spotzi was assigned to create a platform, where both citizens and governments/municipalities can not only visualize the public data, but also edit the data in a controlled way, so governments and municipalities can maintain the quality of the public data. A completely new way of communication between citizens and municipalities with the help of a map.
On March 17, Spotzi presented their demo of the platform for municipalities, governments and GIS-professionals on the basis of two user cases, where a citizen could change the location of a bicycle stand and After 3 months of hard work, Spotzi created a very new platform that enables citizens to see what their municipality is planning to build in the public environment, but also enables citizens to make suggestions to adapt these plans. Spotzi is very proud of the final product. Where both functionality and usability was our key focus.
Here is a example of a user cases we have showed during the presentation:
A completely new way of communication between citizens and municipalities with the help of a map.
The Open Spatial Data Platform that Spotzi created are the first steps of a more transparent way in which open spatial data is used/edited by governments, municipalities and citizens. However, there are still some challenges:
- Challenge 1: The data and the usability of the tool should be as understandable as possible for both citizens and municipal / government.
- Challenge 2: Retention of data quality if the citizen is going to interfere with the public data.
- Challenge 3: Linking data.
These challenges need more input from the different industries. Do you want to know more about this testbed, do you want to join the discussion or are you a developer that want to take the development to another level. Please join the Geo4Web Github or visit the Geo4Web page at Geonovum.