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Open Data Day: seven weird and wonderful open datasets

Fri Mar 2, 2018
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Now that the Winter Olympics are over, #OpenDataDay is upon us! In order to celebrate publishing data that anyone can access, use or share we’re showcasing the quirkiest, funniest and most cat-filled open datasets out there in our very own Open Data Olympics

Now that the Winter Olympics are over, #OpenDataDay is upon us! In order to celebrate publishing data that anyone can access, use or share we’re showcasing the quirkiest, funniest and most cat-filled open datasets out there in our very own Open Data Olympics

After putting out a call for nominations under a range of categories, we – very unscientifically – selected what we thought was the most entertaining and convincing submission from each category.

So, without further ado, here are our dataset picks for 2018:

Pooches with panache: quirkiest dataset

Marco from Open Data Zurich shared his love of zany pet names with a dataset containing the names of all registered dogs in Zurich. Switzerland’s largest city is home to ordinary named dogs like Luna, Coco and Blacky, but some owners couldn’t bear to be that conventional.

Some of the top dogs include:

  • Balzac du Clos des Pontet
  • Akosambo’s Black Massai Ulani
  • Hug me Dark Devil

Freedom of expression is clearly important to the Swiss, although there are also 27 dogs named Lola, so who can blame whoever named Hug me Dark Devil?

Feline flicks: most cats in a dataset

We love cats at the ODI (so much so that our Head of Policy Peter Wells has created a list of cats in government), so imagine our delight when we saw this list of cats in movies, nominated by Open Data Soft. We had totally forgotten that there was a cat in the film Alien…

Comic-books in Brussels: most colourful dataset

Home of Tintin’s infamous creator Hergé, it is no surprise that Brussels is Europe’s comic-book capital, with painted walls to prove it. This dataset lists the location of all the painted comic-book walls in Brussels, as well as their characters and the cartoonists who created them.

Pets in the freezer: creepiest dataset

Perhaps the most nominated dataset goes to the undeniably creepy list of animals frozen in Peterborough. Mike Thacker from Porism, who sent this spooky submission said he thought Peterborough City Council’s dataset was meant to give them time to find the cause of death, and allow owners to retrieve and bury their beloved pets.

Whether that’s true or not, one thing’s certain: those pets won’t live to tell the tail.

Does it fart?: funniest dataset

Following the viral food sensations ‘Can you sushi it?’ and ‘Will it waffle?’ comes a frontrunner in the hilarity stakes: ‘Does it Fart?’

An online open-access spreadsheet of smells began as the Twitter hashtag #DoesItFart, and gathers examples from researchers proving whether or not animals pass gas. Among those letting rip are African wild dogs, who fart as do “any self-respecting canine”, and snow leopards, whose farts are muffled by their “floofy bottoms”.

Who’d have smelt it?

Abandoned trolleys in rivers: most niche dataset

“There are no useless datasets,” Ash Smith from the University of Southampton once thought. But when a colleague showed him the list of Abandoned Shopping Trolleys in Bristol Rivers, he was flummoxed.

Someday, he vowed, he would finally find a use for that list and prove his colleague wrong. Looks like he’s managed it, even if it is simply to win this ‘most niche dataset’ award. Wait, does that even count?

Stations en Swisse: dataset most likely to still be in use in 100 years

We love public transport in Switzerland” says Swiss travel agency SBB, which is why they’ve nominated their own open list of all public transport stations. So, whether most of us are segwaying around by 2118 or not, we’d put our money on this dataset sticking around.

Thanks to everyone who nominated a dataset. We will be writing up some of the rest in separate blogs over Open Data Day and beyond, so watch this space! If you have ideas or experience in open data that you’d like to share, pitch us a blog or tweet us at @ODIHQ.