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January 04 2012

11:03

2011: the UK hyper-local year in review

In this guest post, Damian Radcliffe highlights some topline developments in the hyper-local space during 2011. He also asks for your suggestions of great hyper-local content from 2011. His more detailed slides looking at the previous year are cross-posted at the bottom of this article.

2011 was a busy year across the hyper-local sphere, with a flurry of activity online as well as more traditional platforms such as TV, Radio and newspapers.

The Government’s plans for Local TV have been considerably developed, following the Shott Review just over a year ago. We now have a clearer indication of the areas which will be first on the list for these new services and how Ofcom might award these licences. What we don’t know is who will apply for these licences, or what their business models will be. But, this should become clear in the second half of the year.

Whilst the Leveson Inquiry hasn’t directly been looking at local media, it has been a part of the debate. Claire Enders outlined some of the challenges facing the regional and local press in a presentation showing declining revenue, jobs and advertising over the past five years. Her research suggests that the impact of “the move to digital” has been greater at a local level than at the nationals.

Across the board, funding remains a challenge for many. But new models are emerging, with Daily Deals starting to form part of the revenue mix alongside money from foundations and franchising.

And on the content front, we saw Jeremy Hunt cite a number of hyper-local examples at the Oxford Media Convention, as well as record coverage for regional press and many hyper-local outlets as a result of the summer riots.

I’ve included more on all of these stories in my personal retrospective for the past year.

One area where I’d really welcome feedback is examples of hyper-local content you produced – or read – in 2011. I’m conscious that a lot of great material may not necessarily reach a wider audience, so do post your suggestions below and hopefully we can begin to redress that.


April 28 2011

13:30

A reluctant goodbye to Guardian Local

ScraperWiki is sad to hear that Guardian Local is being wound down, just over a year after its public launch. We’ve had the good fortune to work with the talented Guardian Local journalists at three of our Hacks & Hackers events: in Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow.

We would like to say a particular thank you to the project’s editor, Sarah Hartley, for her generous help. We wish Sarah, Hannah, John and Michael the very best in their new ventures, whatever they may be.

As you can see from the comments under the Guardian post announcing the sites’ closure, the beatbloggers, led by Sarah, have done amazing work for their respective communities. It’s testament to their hard work and energy that they’ve built up such a loyal following in a short space of time.

Michael MacLeod from Guardian Edinburgh at our Glasgow event (right):

March 15 2011

16:12

Cardiff Hacks and Hackers Hacks Day

What’s occurin’? Loads in fact, at our first Welsh Hacks and Hackers Hack Day! From schools from space to catering college’s with a Food Safety Standard of 2, we had an amazing day.

We got five teams:

Co-Ordnance – This project aimed to be a local business tracker. They wanted to make the London Stock Exchange code into meaningful data, but alas, the stock exchange prevents scraping. So they decided to use company data from registers like the LSE and Companies House to extract business information and structure it for small businesses who need to know best place to set up and for local business activists.

The team consisted of 3 hacks (Steve Fossey, Eva Tallaksen from Intrafish and Gareth Morlais from BBC Cymru) and 3 hackers (Carey HilesCraig Marvelley and Warren Seymour, all from Box UK).

It’s a good thing they had some serious hackers as they had a serious hack on their hands. Here’s a scraper they did for the London Stock Exchange ticker. And here’s what they were able to get done in just one day!

This was just a locally hosted site but the map did allow users to search for types of businesses by region, see whether they’d been dissolved and by what date.

Open Senedd – This project aimed to be a Welsh version of TheyWorkforYou. A way for people in Wales to find out how assembly members voted in plenary meetings. It tackles the worthy task of making assembly members voting records accessible and transparent.

The team consisted of 2 hacks (Daniel Grosvenor from CLIConline and Hannah Waldram from Guardian Cardiff) and 2 hackers (Nathan Collins and Matt Dove).

They spent the day hacking away and drew up an outline for www.opensenedd.org.uk. We look forward to the birth of their project! Which may or may not look something like this (left). Minus Coke can and laptop hopefully!

They took on a lot for a one day project but devolution will not stop the ScraperWiki digger!

There’s no such thing as a free school meal – This project aimed to extract information on Welsh schools from inspection reports. This involved getting unstructure Estyn reports on all 2698 Welsh schools into ScraperWiki.

The team consisted of 1 hack (Izzy Kaminski) and 2 astronomer hackers (Edward Gomez and Stuart Lowe from LCOGT).

This small team managed to scrape Welsh schools data (which the next team stole!) and had time to make a heat map of schools in Wales. This was done using some sort of astronomical tool. Their longer term aim is to overlay the map with information on child poverty and school meals. A worthy venture and we wish them well.

Ysgoloscope – This project aimed to be a Welsh version of Schooloscope. It’s aim was to make accessible and interactive information about schools for parents to explore. It used Edward’s scraper of horrible PDF Estyn inspection reports. These had different rating methodology to Ofsted (devolution is not good for data journalism!).

The team consisted of 6 hacks (Joni Ayn Alexander, Chris Bolton, Bethan James from the Stroke Association, Paul Byers, Geraldine Nichols and Rachel Howells), 1 hacker (Ben Campbell from Media Standards Trust) and 1 troublemaker (Esko Reinikainen).

Maybe it was a case to too many hacks or just trying to narrow down what area of local government to tackle but the result was a plan. Here is their presentation and I’m sure parents all over wales are hoping to see Ysgoloscope up and running.

Blasus – This project aimed to map food hygiene rating over Wales. They wanted to correlate this information with deprivation indices. They noticed that the Food Standards Agency site does not work. Not for this purpose which is most useful.

The team consisted of 4 hacks (Joe Goodden from the BBC, Alyson Fielding, Charlie Duff from HRZone and Sophie Paterson from the ATRiuM) and 1 hacker (Dafydd Vaughan from CF Labs).

As you can see below they created something which they presented on the day. They used this scraper and made an interactive map with food hygiene ratings, symbols and local information. Amazing for just a day’s work!

And the winners are… (drum roll please)

  • 1st Prize: Blasus
  • 2nd Prize: Open Senedd
  • 3rd Prize: Co-Ordnance
  • Best Scoop: Blasus for finding  a catering college in Merthyr with a Food Hygiene Standard rating of just 2
  • Best Scraper: Co-Ordnance

A big shout out

To our judges Glyn Mottershead from Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Gwawr Hughes from Skillset and Sean Clarke from The Guardian.

And our sponsors Skillset, Guardian Platform, Guardian Local and Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

Schools, businesses and eating place of Wales – you’ve been ScraperWikied!


February 09 2011

08:11

New event! Hacks and Hackers Hack Day Cardiff (#hhhCar)

The UK Hacks & Hackers tour carries on – into 2011. Our first stop: Wales.

Scraperwiki, which provides award-winning tools for screen scraping,data mining and visualisation, will hold a one day practical hack day* at the Atrium in Cardiff on Friday 11 March, 2011.

Web developers and designers will pair up with journalists and bloggers to produce a number of projects and stories based on public data.

We would like to thank our main sponsor Skillset Cymru, our hosts the Atrium and our prize sponsors Guardian Local, Guardian Open Platform and Cardiff School of Media, Journalism and Cultural Studies for making the event possible.

“Skillset Cymru is very pleased to be supporting the Cardiff Scraperwiki Hacks and Hackers Hack Day this March,” says Gwawr Hughes, director, Skillset Cymru.

“This exciting event will bring journalists and computer programmers and designers together to explore the scraping, storage, aggregation, and distribution of public data in more useful, structured formats.

“It is at the forefront of data journalism and should be of great interest to the media industry across the board here in Wales.”

More details

Who’s it for? We hope to attract ‘hacks’ and ‘hackers’ from all different types of backgrounds: people from big media organisations, as well as individual online publishers and freelancers.

What will I get out of it?
The aim is to show journalists how to use programming and design techniques to create online news stories and features; and vice versa, to show programmers how to find, develop, and polish stories and features. To see what happened at our past events in Liverpool and Birmingham visit the ScraperWiki blog. Here’s a video showing what happened in Belfast.

How much? NOTHING! It’s absolutely free, thanks to our sponsors. Food and refreshments will be provided throughout the day. If you have special dietary requirements please email judith [at] scraperwiki.com.

What should I bring? We would encourage people to come along with ideas for local ‘datasets’ that are of interest. In addition we will create a list of suggested data sets at the introduction on the morning of the event but flexibility is key for this event. If you have a laptop, please bring this too.

So what exactly will happen on the day? Armed with their laptops and WIFI, journalists and developers will be put into teams of around four to develop their ideas, with the aim of finishing final projects that can be published and shared publicly. Each team will then present their project to the whole group. Winners will receive prizes at the end of the day.

*Not sure what a hack day is? Let’s go with the Wikipedia definition: It “an event where developers, designers and people with ideas gather to build ‘cool stuff’”…

With thanks to our sponsors:

Keep an eye on the ScraperWiki blog for details about Scraperwiki events. Hacks & Hackers Hack Day Glasgow is scheduled for March 25 2011. For additional information please contact judith [at] scraperwiki.com.

August 25 2010

12:32

Hyperlocal – what does it mean?

Not long ago it was the buzzword of the media and news industry – but what does ‘hyperlocal’ really mean today?

It’s a question Guardian Local editor Sarah Hartley has sought answer on her blog, putting forward ten characteristics which represent the meaning of the phrase as it evolves.

First, she discusses the growing range of the term, which has developed from a postcode-focused news patch to now being used to describe focused subject matter, story treatment, or even geographical areas which are actually large in size. “Can these things be considered hyperlocal in nature?”, she asks.

Here is a summary of the main characteristics Hartley associates with the term:

  • Participation from the author.
  • Opinion blended with facts.
  • Participation from the community.
  • Small is big. Scale is not important, impact is.
  • Medium agnostic. Use of different platforms.
  • Obsessiveness. Sticking with a story.
  • Independence.
  • Link lovers.
  • Passion.
  • Lack of money.

Readers are invited to comment on her blog on whether it is time to find an alternative to the term ‘hyperlocal’ or whether it is well used enough to keep.

See her full post at this link…Similar Posts:



June 18 2010

09:19

Guardian Local on Twitter; wants to talk to local bloggers

Guardian Local, which launched sites for three cities in February,  introduced a new Twitter feed yesterday, @GdnLocal, with the aim of helping hyperlocal sites and local bloggers in the UK “stay connected”.

Guardian Local editor Sarah Hartley says:

If you run a hyperlocal blog and want to be included in the lists for each region or need an easy way follow the activity going on in your area, I look forward to sharing with you @GdnLocal.

In other Guardian Local news, the project is advertising for a new blogger for its Edinburgh site. We’re told that launch blogger, Tom Allan, has decided to move on and will concentrate on other multimedia projects, after six months in the role. He will, however, continue to contribute to the blog, said GNM.

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January 29 2010

08:22

Guardian names three new Beatbloggers

Yesterday afternoon Guardian News & Media announced its three new beat bloggers, part of the Guardian Local initiative.

The Local project is an “experimental small-scale community approach to local newsgathering,” according to launch editor Sarah Hartley.

Hartley writes:

We had a tremendous response to the advertised positions and, as the Local launch editor, I’m delighted to announce that the project has reached an important milestone, with the appointment of three journalists to take on the new roles in the three cities.

Tom Allan, Hannah Waldram and John Baron have been based at the Guardian’s offices in Kings Place this week to undergo training and will be starting work on their beats of Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds respectively from next week. The Local blogs will be launched during the first half of this year although no dates have been confirmed.

I’m thrilled that these talented journalists have joined this exciting new venture at such an important time, and more details will be announced in the coming months.

Full post at this link…

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