LocalWiki

By Philip Neustrom

An API for your city

31 August 2012

We're excited to announce that the first version of the LocalWiki API has just been released! If you're running a LocalWiki instance, please upgrade to get the new functionality.

What's this mean?

In June, folks in Raleigh held their annual CityCamp event. CityCamp is a sort of "civic hackathon" for Raleigh. During one part of the event people broke up into teams and came up with projects that used technology to help solve local, civic needs.

What did almost every project pitched at CityCamp have in common? "Almost every final CityCamp idea had incorporated a stream of content from Triangle Wiki," said CityCamp and TriangleWiki organizer Reid Serozi.

The LocalWiki API makes it really easy for people to build applications and systems that push and pull information from a LocalWiki. In fact, the API has already been integrated into a few applications:

  • The winning project at CityCamp Raleigh, RGreenway is a mobile app that helps residents find local greenways. They plan to push/pull data from the TriangleWiki's extensive listing of greenways.

  • Another group in the Raleigh-Durham area, Wanderful, is developing a mobile application that teaches residents about their local history as they wander through town. They're using the LocalWiki API to pull pages and maps from the TriangleWiki.

Ultimately, we hope that LocalWiki can be thought of as an API for the city itself. A bridge between local data and local knowledge. Between the quantitative and the qualitative aspects of community life.

Using the API

You can read the API documentation to learn about the new API. You'll also want to make sure you check out some of the API examples to get a feel for things.

We did a lot of work to integrate advanced geospatial support into the API, extending the underlying API library we were using — and now everyone using it can effortlessly create an awesome geospatially-aware API.

This is just the first version of the API and there's a lot more we want to do! As we add more structured data to LocalWiki the API will get more and more useful. And we hope to simplify and streamline the API as we see real-world usage. Want to help? Share your examples for interacting with the API from a variety of environments — jump in on the page on dev.localwiki.org or add examples / polish to the administrative documentation.

Upgrading

If you're using the Ubuntu package(recommended for most users), then upgrading takes just these two commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

If you have a developer install of LocalWiki, read about upgrading on the developer site.

CityCamp photo courtesty CityCamp Raleigh

Our story

In 2004 we started the Davis Wiki, an experimental project to collect and share interesting information about the town of Davis, California, editable by anyone, that soon became the world's largest and most vibrant community wiki.

Today the residents of Davis use it for everything from learning about local news and local history to helping return lost pets to their owners — and it's become the largest, most used media source in the city. In a week, nearly half of residents use the Davis Wiki; in a month, nearly everyone uses it. And 1 in 7 residents contribute material to the Davis Wiki.

We want to help as many communities as possible realize the full potential of such an amazing, collaborative information resource.