A drive or walk round any suburb or city nowadays seems to reveal at least one recently opened supermarket. Retailers and their different formats are opening up thick and fast, providing customers with choice. With so many new stores do we all know where the competition is? Supermarket information is available and online for everyone to access but not in one file.
Owen Boswarva’s article ‘It’s time for the private sector to release some open data too’ encouraged us to crack on with our existing plan to release a list of supermarket locations as open data. There is no commercially sensitive information attached to the stores, just the store name, and an address from the retailers store locator, our Geolytix town and locality names, and an exact rooftop location (in British National Grid and web friendly WGS84 lat/long). Yes, we have probably spent more time directing ourselves around the country in google street view than the google van spent capturing the imagery (and yes, we have manually located each of the 7,490 stores with the aim to get a really good dataset). Geolytix work on so many projects that start with the ground work of supermarket locations, and anyone working with data of any kind knows that the results of any processes can only be as good as the quality of data going in in the first instance.
Data is never perfect, so before the first person finds a store out of place, and please try and be that first person, we put a disclaimer out: yes there may be the odd typo and perhaps (but hopefully not too many) we are missing the odd store.
Our ultimate vision is that the retailers and public grab hold of this dataset and we enrich and improve it; for example ‘we’ could add in features- fish counter, electrical department, pharmacy; accessibility and so on, the possibilities are endless. We’d love to hear about your ideas.
Finally, some thank yous. We wouldn’t be doing this without the support of the supermarkets themselves; and our discussions with them have shown just how willing the private sector is to share data – everyone we have talked to has been nothing but supportive which bodes well for the future.
You can download the Open Supermarkets database and supporting documentation here.
You will also be able to access the data on the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC), whose aim is to deliver consumer-related data to a range of end users to drive economic and social benefit.