Tag Archives: postcode

Proposal: generate KML from postcodes in Twitter messages

Here’s an idea I’ve just had, and mentioned on Twitter:

It would be cool if someone with the necessary skills and bandwidth could provide a service which takes a Twitter search (say, for a hashtag), extracts from it , or postcode districts (the first half of a postcode, such as “B44”), and returns a corresponding KML file, which can then be passed to other services, like Google Maps.

It would enable anybody to create a service like Ben Marsh‘s excellent #UKSnow map, but on the fly, and for any term or hash-tag; and especially for one-off or short term issues. Imagine, for instance, the . I could post on Twitter, say:

I just saw a #ShootingStar in B6!

(I did, too!) and others might reply:

I saw #ShootingStar from Waverley Station, EH1 1BB

Good view of #ShootingStar in S9, too!

and we’d very quickly have a map of places from which it had been seen — in the event, such information was posted to Twitter, but there was no easy way to collate it.

A similar service, returning KML for geo-coded tweets, would also be useful, and internationally too, and something combining both might also work.

A task for an upcoming hackday, perhaps? Or one you might like to tackle…

Everything at your postcode – proposal for a new website

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.

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…