Open Data and Garbage

Just a few days ago the city of London (Ontario) started an Open Data Initiative, allowing access to various sets of data that the city controls. This is just a first step in the process of creating an open data city. Open data allows for people outside of city hall to access and use the raw data creating with it whatever they like, whether that’s websites with the data or smart phone apps, like the NextStop app for transit.

There are many great things that could be done with the data, especially as more is released. One application which is dear to my heart would be garbage. When it comes to garbage pickup, my memory turns blank. For the life of me I cannot ever remember when my garbage day is. For those of you laughing right now, its not on the same day every week, so stop the jokes. London’s garbage days rotate, so this week its on Monday, next week Tuesday, etc. Throw in a few holidays and its a crap shoot for when the truck will come rumbling down the street at 6:30am and I wake up with the fear that I forgot to put out the garbage.

So what I want with this data once it comes into public domain is some reminder, whether its email, a twitter message, or automatically put in my Google calendar, that pops up the day before telling me “Hey Aaron, don’t forget to put out the garbage tonight!”. In my case, it may have to be sent a few times during the day.

Vancouver is doing it right now. VanTrash.ca is a website that grabs the city’s trash pickup data, puts it into a zone system using Google maps and sends you reminders or adds to your calendar. This was created by Luke Closs and Kevin Jones, who made it during a community hackathon.

Once London makes this data available, I will be the first volunteer to use any kind of system that someone who is programably smarter than I am makes. I am definitely looking forward to what comes out of any kind of creative open data system from what’s available in London right now and the future.

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