Over the last few weeks, I have been imagining a website for UK citizens and visitors; where they can enter their postcode and be served a page or pages of hyperlocal links about everything to do with where they live. This post is me continuing that thinking out loud; comments — including the constructively critical — are actively solicited.
Links could be almost anything, from local government services (via DirectGov and OpenlyLocal) to public transport information; from maps to fun things. They would either link to sites which use postcodes as as an argument; or would be built using the target site’s postcode-lookup API.
The site would avoid the need for each hyperlocal website to compile its own list of such links.
Here are a few such links, based on a randomly-selected postcode, B23 6UH (I simply opened a local newspaper and picked the first advert that used a Birmingham postcode). Note that the first link is computed; the rest use the postcode directly.
- OpenStreetMap for B23 6
- Google Map for B23 6
- Report street problems at B23 6UH using FixMyStreet
- How Big Really? – comparative dimensions for B23 6UH, from the BBC
- Shop opening hours for B23 6UH, from Opening Times
- Google search for “B23 6UH”
- “B” postcode area, from Wikipedia
User would also be able to suggest additional links if they find a good web service which takes a postcode as a locator — for now, please feel free to do so in comments on this post, and I’ll add them to the above list. Purely commercial links, like individual chains’ store locators, would be excluded (a few paid for links, clearly identified as such, might generate enough revenue to cover hosting costs).
As can be seen from the above, the site wouldn’t actually store or generate content; just links. The links could be clustered under headings, or on sub-pages, like “maps”, “local services”, and “fun stuff”.
It might also be possible for the site to determine the user’s nearest postcode, using their browser or device’s GeoLocation feature, or by selection from a map. The site would also accept partial postcodes, such as “B”, “B23” or “B23 6”.
The service could perhaps be “widgetised” for inclusion on other sites. And of course, it would be possible to link to the site using postcode as an argument.
The site would, of course, make data available in RSS, OPML and open data formats; and use microformats.
Unfortunately, though be willing to collate and maintain the links and code some HTML, I lack the programming and graphic-design skills to make such a site, which means that I must rely on the good will of others. Can you help? Should I organise a hack event (a day, or an evening) at a Birmingham venue, to work on this collaboratively?
Or does such a service — curated, rather than spammy — already exist? Would it belong better as an adjunct to an existing service like OpenlyLocal or DirectGov?
Over to you…