Unlock client on PyPi

November 24, 2009

I finally got round to uploading an Unlock client to PyPi, the Python package repository.

easy_install unlock

from unlock import Places
p = Places()
xml = p.nameSearch('Edinburgh')

There’s also a simple interface to the geoparser, Unlock Text, in there.

I hope it’ll be a timesaver, and we’ll add some more code resources to the site soon.


Open OS Data

November 19, 2009

I’m happy and hopeful at the announcement by the government that “mid-scale” Ordnance Survey data sets will be made freely available from April next year. It means we’ll be able to move a lot more into the “open data” side of Unlock services, offer open postcode and grid reference lookups.

Unlock’s open data gazetteer will become a lot more flexible with detailed footprints for many places rather than just pairs of coordinates. This will make it more worthwhile putting more complex spatial queries into the API (searches for intersections of footprints, searches for buffers around footprints, etc.) as they can be more widely used. One day we will be able to say, in public, “Show me images of all towns within a mile of the banks of the River Tweed”.

Well, the news is circulating but there will now be a 12 week consultation period before concluding exactly what OS data products will become openly available to us and how best the data should be distributed. Ed Parsons offered a ;speculative list of OS data products which he thinks may be opened next year. From our perspective, BoundaryLine, CodePoint and Meridian2 would be a great start, along with the OS Locator mid-range gazetteer which isn’t on Ed’s list.


November 12, 2009

This blog accompanies our work on the Unlock services at EDINA. These are JISC-supported services designed to unlock the hidden potential in resources with a textual component.

The services currently have a location focus – a gazetteer and place service service, Unlock places, and a “geoparser” which extracts placenames from text and finds likely locations – Unlock text.

We also offer postcode location encoding for academic use only. Two gazetteer databases are supported; one is built from many Ordnance Survey data products and available for UK academic use through Digimap Collections; the other is based on open data sourced from Geonames.org

Things we plan to leave on this blog: notes about interesting use cases for the gazetteer and geoparser services; reports from relevant workshops attended; related work being done by others; new functions of the services. Please get in touch through unlock@ed.ac.uk if you have any feedback, or leave comments here.