We are talking with some open data folks in Europe about the events that occur within our cities. The concerts, theater productions, poetry readings, government sessions, and other important events that make our communities work. To help prepare for these working sessions we wanted to brainstorm the events landscape a little bit and think more about the events that matter, and how this data is being shared publicly. While we prefer ready to go JSON web APIs for our data sources, we understand that this isn’t always the case, and we spend a lot of time helping understand the current state of things in any area we are targeting with our services.
First, what are some of the common events that occur within our cities? Theater, music, arts, parades, conferences, seminars, meetings, trade shows, sporting, networking, tourism, dinners, parties, award ceremonies, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, family, bat mitzvahs, product launches, non-profit, colloquium, consumer shows, exhibitions, fairs, fundraisers, meetups, political, press conference, retreats, seminars, symposium, workshops, banquets, showers, baptisms, potlucks, church, grand openings, luncheons, and holidays, to name just a few of the common ones.
Next, where do we find information about events that occur within our communities? Websites, calendars, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, RSS Feeds, APIs, push notifications, SMS, word of mouth, flyers, and in person. The challenge with this is that only a portion of the events out there are available in a standardized, machine readable format. Making iCal, Google Calendar, and other common approaches to delivering data, so that it can be consumed in many different systems, is extremely important. We need this information available wherever it is needed, but we also need to make sure it is accurate, relevant, and is properly archived once the event is over–adding an interesting dimension to the concept of real time information.
Event data is a particularly interesting use case to think about when talking about real time data. It is an area where real time delivery is critical, but it is data that also possesses an expiration date. Real time streaming of event data that is incorrect, out of date, and has passed doesn’t mean much to anyone. One of the most common challenges we find in making sure data is available in simple, easy to consume streams, is the availability of simple, machine readable, JSON APIs serving up the data in the first place. The public events space is no different. There are a handful of sites catering to the need for event APIs, but much of the information still needs to be liberated from websites, and other static, non machine readable formats.
We are pulling together the events and calendar sections of the Streamdata.io API Gallery, where we’ll be showcasing some of the best opportunities for finding JSON API sources for events information that you can stream. After that we’ll be documenting other feeds, and HTML sources of events data, in hopes of trying to encourage more stewards of event data to publish in a way that can be more easily consumed in other applications, and also delivered as real time streams. If you have any interesting event data sources, feeds, APIs, or other calendar solutions you are using, we’d love to hear about them. So that we can add to our research, and discussions with our partners and clients as we look to make our cities event data more accessible and real time.
Photo Credit: Winter D. Silversmith