We aggregate in Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram channel everything related to local community life (weather warnings, recycling calendar reminders, news, notifications) and share it with people who live there in Telegram Channel.
Inspiration for Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram
Once we moved to Switzerland 3 year ago we faced a challenge with understanding what happens around us in the Gemeinde where we live, what are the local rules and customs, and what are the opportunities to integrate into society.
- we forgot to look into Abfallkalender (Recycling Calendar, that is different for every locality) and missed dates to recycle for free paper, carton, metal, etc;
- we had to manually check website of our local authorities to check if there are upcoming events, meet-ups, etc. with locals, also to stay up to date with local news and check if they impact us somehow;
- we heard that wether can change unexpected and there are some notifications being sent by email or sms, but were not aware how to subscribe to them to receive only relevant warnings;
- additionally, I heard that some people might have headache when strong Föhn is blowing from Alps, and wanted to check if there is correlation between my occasional headaches and Föhn strength;
- finally, couple of time during the year broadband internet connection in our house was not working, and it happened exactly when it was very much needed, so I started to think if there is way to get informed about downtimes and recoveries for my Internet provider.
As we are frequent users of Telegram Messenger that serves for us a default communication platform, and we prefer it over WhatsApp and Facebook, it was a natural decision to explore its API to see how to deliver above mentioned pieces of information to Telegram Channels
What Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram channel does
- Analyses Föhndigram from Meteocentrale (http://www.meteocentrale.ch/en/weather/foehn-and-bise/foehn.html) to detect when Föhn strength exceeds 8hPa level
- Checks Severe Weather report from Meteocentrale (http://www.meteocentrale.ch/en/weather/severe-weather-switzerland/severe-weather-report.html) to capture warnings relevant for particular area.
- Checks Network Status for GGA Maur Telecom provider (https://www.gga.ch/de-CH/Support/Netzstatus) and informs if relevant interruptions are found there
- Checks Recycling Calendar and notifies in the evening if tomorrow is the recycling day for particular type of waste
- Checks website of Local Authority and parses title and URL for news and upcoming (or cancelled) events.
How we built the channel Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram
- First we created two Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram channels: one for our Gemeide and another one for neighbourhood, and started to monitor above mentioned sources of information to understand frequency and format of messages, and posted relevant information manually to the channel.
- Downloaded Abfallkalendar as PDF, and manually parsed it into series of dates and events, and stored in Airtable.
- Subscribed for newsletters on Gemeinde websites not to miss important updates until we have everything automated.
- Started to automate this activity by creating parsers for above mentioned sources using Codeigniter micro framework (it is PHP based, I know might not be the best choice, but it comes with its own pros and cons that we can discuss separately).
Challenges we ran into
- Websites of Local authorities do not offer RSS or any other structured format for news. So we have either to write custom parser for each Gemeinde, or contact them (and their website developer) to add RSS support, or parse newsletter that Gemeinde sends out.
- Meteocentrale.ch also does not offer RSS or API to get information we need, so once again we have to be creative 🙂 Even more, now it is not possible to subscribe for “Severe Weather Mailservice” anymore, because it appears broken (http://www.meteocentrale.ch/en/weather/severe-weather-switzerland/mailservice.html?no_cache=1) – so we had to look under to hood of Meteocentrale website to make it possible to subscribe there.
Accomplishments that we’re proud of
- We have 10 and 7 subscribers for our Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram channels at the moment.
What we learned in the project Gemeinde Nachrichen in Telegram
- Seems like there is no any Open API among infrastructure providers in Switzerland (telecom, electricity, etc.) to get information about interruptions, incidents, downtime, etc. So only way to obtain information instantly is to parse website content.