Duncan Barclay (of @BathFood fame) built his latest Twitter alert service at Hacked 2.1 from newly released BANES planning applications data.

What did you make?

A twitter account, that tweets the latest planning applications for BA1 and BA2. @BathPlanning tweets the larger planning applications that are likely to interest people across larger areas of Bath, and @BathAllPlanning tweets all the applications (except ones about trees).

Which data sources/tools did you use?

It takes council planning data from the Bath: Hacked data store, and uses that to work out when planning applications have been added, approved, rejected, etc. It also goes and scrapes the planning document meta-data from the council website, to work out when a planning application has been updated.

It’s written in PHP, with a thing in node.js to retweet everything @BathPlanning says on @BathAllPlanning.

What were the challenges?

Fitting an entire planning application in a single tweet, while still getting enough across to make it clear what it’s about, where it is and giving a link.

What would you do to improve your project further?

I’ve already tweaked the threshold used to decide whether @BathPlanning or @BathAllPlanning tweets the application, and removed applications about trees from @BathAllPlanning due to the amount of data that was generating (the change will take effect sometime on Weds).

It’s likely I’ll tweak it further as I get to gather more data about how people are interacting with it, to try to make it as useful as possible.

Feature wise, it would be nice to add a way for people to interact with planning applications via twitter, with the data being fed back into the council’s planning department.


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