Things have been very quiet here of late. We’ve been taking some time out to review our progress and plans for the future. Here’s a short update on some impending changes, including our plans to retire the data store.
It’s been a slow year for Bath: Hacked. Other than supporting the council in exploring improvements to how it publishes and manages geospatial data, we’ve not completed any new projects, run events or published any significant new datasets. Our last big project was last year’s exploration of air quality and traffic data to review the impacts of the clean air zone.
As a group of volunteers we’ve been struggling to find time to keep things moving forward around the demands of our day jobs. At the moment we’re all investing time in work and family.
As a volunteer-run, not for profit, we also have the constant struggle of finding funding to keep things ticking over. We’ve had some amazing support from a whole range of local organisations, including the council, in helping to support our events and other activities. But the combination of time and financial constraints means that it’s time to downsize our activities.
As our major cost centre its the data store we’ve taken the hard decision to retire it, a little over five years since it was first launched.
Socrata have given us amazing support over the last five years. We’ve had unfettered use of their product, early access to new features, and ongoing encouragement from their team. We’re not their typical customer, but we think that’s been a helpful perspective that has fed into their product.
A few months ago we gave them notice that we were planning to shutdown the store. The current data store at data.bathhacked.org will go offline by 14th January 2020. That’s a little over two months from now. We’re hoping this gives the small number of you running live services against the store time to migrate to other options.
The council have confirmed that they will ensure that the regularly updated datasets they are publishing to the store, including the car park and air quality monitoring data, will continue to be published under an open licence. We’re coordinating with them to work out a continuity plan. The future scenario is likely to be a regularly updated set of CSV files available from the council website, rather than a full API. This is easy to build and likely to be sustainable over the long term.
While this is a big change to how the data is being published its a positive step. We’ve demonstrated the value of the council making this data available over the long term.
The data that is currently in the data store won’t disappear. No data will be lost to the community. We’ve got quite an archive of air quality, parking and other data which may provide ongoing value. We’ve been exploring options for archiving existing data and options to continue to publish static datasets. For example, to github, as we have been doing with our geospatial data collection. So, there will be some form of dataset directory available in future, it just won’t be a fully fledged data platform with live APIs and visualisations.
Aside from the store, we’ll also be stepping away from Meetup. Their recent business model change makes it untenable for us to use in future. Because of the size of our community, we already pay an annual fee, but can’t extend to also covering attendance fees. We’ve always made our events free to be as inclusive as possible. We’ll look at other options for promoting future events.
Bath: Hacked won’t be disappearing, we’ll still continue to exist as a community group. On Slack, Twitter and through this website.