Now that temperatures have dipped permanently below zero you might be wondering when your local skating rink will be open, or where you can go to join in on a friendly hockey match.
Montréal Ouvert recently launched Patiner Montréal to provide up-to-date info on the condition of dozens of skating rinks across the city. The website allows you to search by type of rink (landscaped, free skate, hockey rink) or to subscribe to an RSS feed in order to get updates about the condition of a particular rink. The site is also interactive: once they ‘ve found a suitable rink, users can click “I’m going” to let others know they are planning to hit the ice.
Patiner Montréal gathers data published by the City of Montreal, and updated daily. However, the creators emphasize that the current format of the data is a major roadblock to anyone who would like to develop this kind of tool:
“The city provides data on the conditions and locations of rinks. The data, however, is not accessible in a machine-readable format. The conditions data is in PDFs, which are difficult to scrape. If the layout of the PDFs were to change, Patiner Montréal’s scripts would fail to scrape the data. The locations data is written in poorly-formatted HTML, making it especially difficult to scrape. The city should publish its data in an open format to make it easy to use it. Visit Montréal Ouvert to get involved.”
Montréal Ouvert has been lobbying the City to provide open data, meaning machine-readable, centralized, permanent, and uncopyrighted. The founders believe that once these conditions are met, tech-savvy Montrealers will provide the City with free services like Patiner Montréal, that citizens to interact with the information, the territory, and each other in brand new ways.