Our Data Projects – Update

Written by Hannah Boast on 01 Mar, 19
City-wide innovation ecosystem Other news Responsible innovation

Our Data Projects

Wonderful things can happen when people come together to address real world needs and develop solutions that help improve our city and world.

Last Autumn, a series of Open Data focused events were hosted by the Bristol City Council Innovation and Sustainability team and partners. Using and ‘Well-connected’ as the thematic banner, three public events provided opportunity for people to get involved and collaboratively develop data projects.

An engagement and idea generation event in October informed a work weekend (Data Jam / Hackathon) in November which led on to a pitching a commissioning event shortly after. Three projects were commissioned by Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney, Patricia Holey and Ajara Pfannenschmidt.

Each project was allocated a modest development fund of £1.5k, and given 3 months to make headway with the data projects put forward.

We have now kicked off the next sequence of engagement events, with the first one hosted on the 18th February. The next Data Jam / Hackathon is happening on the 23rd/24th March and the next  ‘Our Data Projects. Pitching and Commissioning’ is on the 1st of April 2019.

Here’s a status update from three projects commissioned Autumn 18, written by the project teams…


Triffids is a web application that provides an entertaining and informative guide to the Trees and Parks of the city of Bristol. Designed to make use of the existing Open Data sets published by Bristol City Council and with the possibility of incorporating data from other, relevant sources as well. The web application can show the users location on a map and include information about the Park and the trees nearby. Future versions will provide games and challenges in this domain.

The project was kicked off at an OpenData Bristol hackathon weekend in November 2018, after which some funding was provided by the council to help get the project off the ground and reach a usable prototype. On 18th February the team presented a preliminary version and plan to have this stage finished off by the end of March.

The data used for the application is released as Open Data by BCC and the application itself will also be released under an Open Source license. At the end of this initial implementation of the application, we intend to invite other programmers in Bristol to become familiar with, and improve, the application code.

Solar project

A key element in improving the energy efficiency of cities is the facilitation of decentralized multi-energy systems (MES), which exploit synergies between different energy carriers for optimal dispatch, conversion and storage. The integration of solar energy technologies such as photovoltaic and solar thermal collectors is vital for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Therefore, district and city scale energy studies depend on reliable assessments of solar energy potentials that are necessary to evaluate the feasibility and extent of solar technology investments.

As part of a small team at the Open Data Hackathon, this project calculated solar potential of buildings in Bristol using LiDAR data, for assessing the suitability of building roofs for the installation of solar panels. This also includes a general estimation of the amount of power that could be generated by roof area. This had been previously calculated in Bristol by a consultancy firm several years ago, which calculated 384 Gigawatts (GWh) of potential electricity generated by photovoltaic panels per annual (which can be accessed on the Open Data Bristol Portal). However, more recently the Environment Agency has opened up their portal to open source LiDAR at various scales in England and Wales. Therefore, the aim of this project was to update the information with more up to date LiDAR data and to show how a community driven initiative can deliver the production of powerful data, through the dissemination of open source tools (R/GDAL/SAGA).

In addition to reproducing the study conducted by the consultancy firm several years back, we also calculated the total solar generation for areas suitable for photovoltaic installation. By this, we mean the areas on buildings which will generate the maximum GWh. We also performed statistical analysis based on the model output and several other variables, including Census information, identify which areas of Bristol are more likely to to uptake photovoltaic installation. Going forward, we are in the process of producing a report on the methodology applied and plan to work with web developers to create an interactive web application for the public.


In the eco-routes team, we have now collected high resolution NOx emissions telemetry data from a company called Cambustion. This dataset is from an emission monitored vehicle driving around a set route in Guildford.

On the data science side, we have been cleaning up and modifying this data into a feature set to form the basis of a machine learning model that will predict emissions generated in Bristol on every road segment in the network.

Meanwhile there have been back end and front end developments, we have deployed the application to a server and started to tidy up the back end and frontend application code base.

Finally the android application development has come on in leaps and bounds, and excitingly, we will be adding first person navigation and guidance very soon.

Over the next 3-4 weeks we intend to have a full android app up and running as well as a machine learning model of Bristol route emissions building into a graph working under the hood. We intend to start user testing in cars beyond this phase.

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