Saturday, 6 November 2010

Tweather - an idea

I mentioned in my previous entry an idea for how standard data could be published via twitter enabling tweets on a common theme to be combined from multiple sources, databased and republished.

Maybe the best potential use for this idea is to produce a live or near-live weather site based on people's tweets from all over the UK about what the weather is doing NOW.

Using a standard set of data in a specific order, people could publish what the weather is like where they are.  If all the data is gathered and brought together using a mapping service, a weather map could be produced that changes dynamically with the tweets.  Not so much a 'weather forecast' but a 'Tweather forecast'.

This has the potential to give accurate, minute-by-minute data on moving weather fronts and could be a useful source of information.  A belt of rain moving across an area would be tracked and mapped and it may even be possible to predict where that rain will fall next - a true tweather forecast!

Tweets could be vastly simplified using applications that simply require the user to tap a weather icon on their screen - the time, date and location would be automatically added.

~23:58 ~05/11/10 ~Essex ~Chelmsford ~Light Rain

Friday, 5 November 2010

A quick note about police helicopter tweets

QH99 Essex Police Helicopter
I noticed this evening that there are now four UK Police Air Support Unit consortiums on Twitter.  I am certain that there will be more soon, maybe all of them before too long.!/list/beaker9/police-air-support

For the most part, these channels exist to tweet regular updates on flights undertaken and I thought how great it would be for all these to conform to a common schema.  It would allow these and any future ASU twitter channels to be combined from their respective RSS feeds into a UK composite.  Here are the four examples of typical fight reports:

5 Nov 20:25 - Search for 2 people who had run from the scene of a burglary in Lymm. Open areas were confirmed to be clear.

S1465 22:45hrs 03/11/10 - Durrington - missing person search. Areas checked with no trace, enquiries to continue.

Heli activity Leics - 

01:00 01/11/10 Search area near Manor Way, Cardiff, for male wanted in relation to a robbery.

EMASUhelicopters doesn't seem to routinely tweet individual flight operations and when it does, it links to a website.  The other three do and they follow virtually the same pattern with only subtle differences which I think could easily be standarised.

We have the date, time, location and operation details as 4 distinct aspects.  I would suggest as potential standard format to follow could be:

1. Time: 22:45
2. Date: 03/11/10
3. Location1: Cheshire (represents the force area)
4. Location2: Lymm (more localised within that force area; suggest the main town or village)
5. Details1: Search (operation type from a standard list of agreed types)
6. Details2: Rest of the details of the flight
7. Link: optional - could be website, twitpics etc.

So a typical post could be:

~22:45 ~03/11/10 ~Cheshire ~Lymm ~Search Missing person. Areas checked with no trace, enquiries to continue.

By carefully formatting the tweets, they could be interpreted via the RSS feed and re-combined with other similar feeds.

This concept could be an interesting development of Twitter in its own right.  The publication of 'Twitter Schemas' that people can use for specific types of posts could allow a more sophisticated opportunity to combine data together, moving things on from the rather basic hashtag method. Maybe a hashtag at the end to denote the 'schema type' could be used? #ASU

As usual - all views welcomed! :¬)

Added - November 5th 2010
Just remembered a fifth police ASU channel which is no longer operating. @suspol_heli