Fountain of Information

General description: This project is a web application that pouplate drinking fountains in a city and show them on a Google map.

Contributors: Kazem Jahanbakhsh, Rob O'Dwyer, Alim Jiwa, and Mustafa Abousaleh

Features: Search and display all drinking fountains in your proximity and finds the closest one to your current location.

fountain

Implementation period: Feburary 25, 2012

Technical details:
This project was developed during the Open Data Hackaton event in Vancouver [1]. City of Vancouver has released several public data and made them available to developer communities [2]. One of the dataset which was released by Vancouver city contains the location of drinking fountains (latitude/longitude) in parks of city of Vancouver. We used this data and made a web application that takes your location address and finds all drinking fountains close to you and display them on a Google map. This application would be useful for people who go to these parks. The application can also find the closest fountain to your location and show that fountain on the map.

One challenge that we had while working on the above one-day hackathon project was that we didn't have the information for locations of fountains in all cities in North America. For tackling this issue, I found that many people use their iPhones or cameras to take photos from different locations of cities, and upload those photos in Flickr website. Some of these photos also have geographical information (lat/lon). In other words, very interestingly people act as mobile social sensors by walking around a city and indexing new locations and discovering new objects such as drinking fountains.

Thus, I implemented a crawler which can run in the background to discover locations of new fountains added by people in the web. In particular, this crawler searches Flickr for related meta-tags and then pull out all discovered drinking fountains along with their locations.

*** You can download the fountain crawler source code from its github repository: Fountain Crawler.

Refs:
[1] Open Data Hackaton
[2] Open Data Vancouver

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