Thursday, August 20, 2009

City data: Toronto and San Francisco

Posted by Danny Tarlow
My year of "sabbatical" is quickly coming to an end, so I'm packing up my San Francisco apartment and getting ready to head back to Toronto.

The upsides of moving back to Toronto are
(a) I'll have more time to focus on research, and
(b) I need to take a few more classes.

I'm obviously excited about (a).

I'm looking forward to (b), mostly because the (only) class I've decided on at this point is Greg Wilson's software consulting project course. It is supposed to be a cool course every year, but this year it sounds particularly interesting: each project will somehow make use of data that the city of Toronto is getting ready to release. I'm teaming up with another one of my AI group buddies, so together we make the graduate student contingent.

We're now brainstorming interesting projects -- hopefully somehow incorporating cool machine learning. Of course, the difficulty so far is that we don't yet know exactly what data is going to be available to us. Interestingly, though, my other city -- the city of San Francisco -- just released its own variant of publicly available city data:
http://www.datasf.org/

Lately I've found myself arguing quite a bit that we should be collecting and releasing more data. Now that these cities seem to be doing it, hopefully we can turn around and find something interesting to do with it. If you have great ideas, I'd love to hear them.

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