March Meeting

Posted on 3rd Mar 2017 by James

Paul, Gregory and Luke talked through their experiences of Open Data Camp. If you’d like to know about any of the talks in more detail, please check out the talk grid – this contains links to information about each talk.


August Activity Session - Data Roundup

Posted on 5th Aug 2016 by Paul Armstrong

Hi Everyone.

Caught up in my usual inspired frenzy following the meetups I agreed to write a quick post so here goes.

I snapped some photos of the Post-It’s and decided to pick a couple of issues where I know things are happening or data is available to see if this would spark any ideas or even give people the opportunity to get involved in any work currently ongoing. I’ve also tried to include links to peoples’ twitter handles so hopefully you can get in touch.

The three topics I’ve chosen are Pollution, Housing Occupancy and Crime Stats. Obviously I’m happy to expand this out if anyone finds it useful or has any questions or interest in a particular area, I’m thinking litter could potentially be the next.

Post-it Challenges 1
Post-it Challenges 2
Post-it Challenges 3


In March we had a presentation from Phil James who is Academic Lead on the Urban Observatory at Newcastle University. In his presentation Phil introduced the Urban Observatory, what they do and the datasets which they publish via their API.

Phil also described some of the issues they experience, with absolute (rather than relative) air quality being extremely difficult and very expensive to measure. However, he presented some of the innovative ways they are using other related datasets as indicators which can be used to forecast or predict air quality, for example traffic stats and noise levels have direct correlations to air quality.

I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already to check out the Urban Observatory as it really is a great resource. Likewise you can see lots of crossover with the data published by the Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) and see how using these two together could result in some really interesting city projects and insights. Some good examples of these datasets being used can be found in the entries to the recent Data Movement competition run by UTMC and the Digital Catapult at Sunderland Software City.

Housing Occupancy

A great example of work that has been done using housing occupancy open data (in Leeds) is the Empties Map created by Tom Forth from Imactivate and ODI Leeds. This shows the number of empty homes in every ward in Leeds, for the last decade, on a map. Leeds has made huge progress on filling empty homes and wanted to make the data they release on it more visible. This view and presentation of the data is also being used to make the case for more housing in Leeds and has acted as a catalyst for Leeds City Council to release more open data on housing.

Crime Stats

All ‘crime’ information for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is currently published by the Police. From this site you can download street-level crime, outcome, and stop and search data as a CSV format. They have an API which gives access to detailed crime data and information about individual police forces and neighbourhood teams. You can also download data on police activity, and a range of data collected under the police annual data requirement (ADR) including arrests and 101 call handling. All the data on this site is made available under the Open Government Licence.

A great example of where this data has been used is the work done by Jamie Whyte from Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab. Crime and Safety Profile API is a tool which automatically pulls data from, and counts it according to the selected geography (area). It can provide data to at least LA level for every Local Authority in England and Wales, with some down to ward level and town centres etc.

Just to also take this opportunity to signpost you to the Newcastle library data updated with new metadata as I mentioned at the meeting. We would really love your feedback on this – was it useful, do you think there is anything missing or can you think of a way we can do things better?

Cheers and hopefully see you all next month

Paul (@eighty5uk)

Post-it Challenges 1 Post-it Challenges 2 Post-it Challenges 3

North East Space Incubation Programme

Posted on 28th Jul 2016 by James

A UK Space Agency-supported incubation programme is seeking innovative companies across the satellite applications sector.

Intensive support is offered to early stage companies either already in the space sector, or with strong applicable expertise who are looking to diversify.

The programme is free to participants, but there are limited places available.


Wuthering Hacks Projects

Posted on 17th Jun 2016 by James

Participants at Wuthering Hacks

Wuthering Hacks took place at City Library on 9th April 2016 as part of the Commons are Forever series of events.

City Library set up a wi-fi box to serve the data:

ToonLibraryBox directory

The projects included…

Book Recognition

Alistair presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Alistair McDonald used image recognition and a web speech API so that when you scan the barcode of a book with your device’s camera it reads the summary out loud.

Alistair presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

(Video: Product Forge)

Map Exploration

Luke presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Luke Burton used Maptiler and superimposed an historic map of the City onto a current one.

Luke presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

(Video: Product Forge)

Graphed Comparisons

Brian presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Brian Degger looked at:

  1. Library PC use (related to pcs at the location*reported use)
  2. Max, min and average % use
  3. Visits 2008-2016
  4. Yearly visits
  5. Issued items (in 2015/16 20% of 97/98 levels)
  6. How many fiction books are withdrawn vs non-fiction

Brian presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Historic Book Conversions

James presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

James Rutherford converted mixed scans of historic books into a web-accessible format.

Historic books conversion - snapshot

Analysis of Energy Usage

Graeme presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Graham Smith looked at energy consumption (electricity, gas and water) for the City Library building from 2011 to 2015. He also used several projection methods to predict future energy use.

Graham presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Data Critique

Siddhant presenting what he did at Wuthering Hacks

Siddhant Baviskar provided constructive feedback on the data sets.

Raw Visualisations

Visual experiments

The participant used Raw to do visualisations using the “top 5 most borrowed titles in Newcastle Libraries in March 2016” data. The idea was to see how data could be turned from a raw format into an aesthetically pleasing item.

 Computer Usage

Do visitors prefer to answer their own questions?

The participant used Libre Office to create the graphs and was interested to see if people would ‘self serve’ if there were lots of computers available. “I never got far enough to answer it though”.

Data Dashboard

Data dashboard - screenshot

(Image: Dave Rowe)

Dave Rowe built a data dashboard showing our issues (number of items borrowed), visits (number of visitors) and PC usage statistics for all our libraries – view the data dashboard here.

Active Members Map

Active members map - screenshot

(Image: Dave Rowe, using Newcastle City Council data, CartoDB and OpenStreetMap –  Ordnance Survey and Geolytix)

Dave Rowe used the data we released about our members to show on a map of the UK where Newcastle Libraries members live (for anonymisation purposes, only the first part of the postcode was released). View the full map here.

Further Information

Dave Rowe’s write-up.

Flickr image set.

Aude’s write-up.


The City Library will host their next event on Saturday 13th August. Mark your diary!