Vermont Hackathon

On Sep 27, 2013, at 3:11 AM, Becky Grenier wrote:

Hello there,

I have been a fan of the Vermont Landscape Change Program website for many years now. I get such a kick out of seeing how familiar sights used to look so long ago.

Oct. 11th will be the third Vermont Hackathon, where teams are challenged to use open data in Vermont to see what they can create in 24 hours. ( I have put together a team and we are now trying to think of an idea, and I immediately thought of your project.

I have a lot of ideas about what we could do, one idea is some kind of app on the smartphone that would identify your location with GPS and get you the pictures from that location, so you could compare how it looked a long time ago with modern times. Maybe it could make it very easy to take and upload a modern picture of the area if there is not one already.

But what I was really hoping to do would be to pick your brains about what you might find useful for us to work on — I bet you have some ideas. Maybe we can talk on the phone or have a meeting about ideas you might have?


i thought about and declared:

I am a bit time constrained at the moment, so I can offer only limited help

It sounds like what she really needs is an API: Application Program Interface. This would take the form of a URL that would accept as input very simple queries and return a specially formatted simple result. For example, assume their app knows its Lat and Lon, and being a smart app, figures it is in New Haven. It asks us:

and we return a list of LS numbers, titles, and spatial coordinates (if known). Or it asks us

And we return selected metadata and an image URL

We would also need a method to accept a new public upload

I have in fact cobbled together such an API at


browse = town, ls, or locate

if town, TOWN=town name

if ls, LS=number (with leading 0s)

if locate: geo=latlon or geo=utm ;
if utm, utme=easting , utmw=westing, delta=number . finds items in box bounded by utme plus or minus delta, utmw plus or minus delta
if latlon, lat=latitude, lon=longitude, delta=number . finds items in box bounded by lat plus or minus delta, lon plus or minus delta

All responses in JSON format


Seems like that was enough, as Becky informs us…

Hello Wes, Paul, and Christine!

Well the hackathon is now done, and I am proud to report that with the data available through the API Wes created, we won 2nd place. Here it is:

The judges were so impressed with your data and our interface for it. So thank you for your help with this.

I wanted to CC our team and tell you who did what, as we all worked very hard to make this happen:

* Buffy Miller was tech workhorse of the team, both front end and back end. I believe she was the only Mother competing at this 24-hour programming competition.

* Meagan Brown was our front-end designer and did a great job presenting our app in a way that helped us win.

* Sarah Lindberg is a statistics nerd (self-proclaimed), a wizard with data visualization using JavaScript libraries.

And me, I had the idea and helped a little bit with everything!

Anyway, if you folks are interested we can meet and give you what we did and maybe put it live on your site at some point? It is mostly done with javascript and HTML so I think you can pretty easily incorporate it. I am willing to help out.

Thank you again,

Rebecca Grenier, Software & Web Developer
(802) 318-4941

About Wesley Wright

Born on a mountain top near New York City, Craziest state in the land of the pretty. Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, Killed him a bear when he was only three.
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