2009-03-15

Publicizing XML over HTTP

A few days ago I have started investigating the options of obtaining XML over HTTP data from devices managed by the government, which produce data that is already made publicly available in other formats.

I have been looking at atmospheric quality control sensors on two locations and traffic counting and categorization sensors in Ljubljana as well as statistical data offered by the Slovenian Eurostat equivalent. If this data was made available using XML over HTTP, it should be easy for third-parties to produce a wide variety of usable webpages with live data, from WAP-based traffic reports to national energy output analisyses.

I have sent out a number of emails to different government and maintenence addresses in a quest for information. I had hoped to accumulate enough information in order to prepare a project I could do for them with a complete solution that offers XML over HTTP. I have recieved some responses so far, so here is what I got:
* The statistical office of Slovenia reports that they are aware of the value of offering XML over HTTP and are planning to implement this in the next version of their website. All we can thus do for now is wait and see.
* The municipality of Ljubljana reports that data from their atmospheric quality control sensors is collected and made avaliable on their website (as we already knew) and in a standard format over FTP which can be made available for educational purposes upon agreement. FTP access can be scripted, thus the data could be made available using XML over HTTP.
* The maintainer of the traffic counting and categorization system reports that the devices call home using a GSM communicator, meaning the data is likely gathered on another system via some kind of automated mechanism. Further investigation would be needed to figure out if an XML over HTTP access point could be created without incuring any additional costs.

I have also recieved a hint from Thomasz of NET on how to properly address government institutions. I plan to contact them in the name of NET with the framework for a project ready to enable XML over HTTP access as well as demonstrate practical implementation of a third-party XML data presentation program.

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