Open data is useful for people with the interest and skills to access, use and understand it – such as hackathon participants. But Glasgow goes further: the city creates a number of prototypes to turn data into useful information.

The OPEN Dashboard is the first of these prototypes. It helps people get the most out of Glasgow and keep track of a fast-moving city. People will have the opportunity to create a personalised dashboard to collate, create, update and customise the information that’s most relevant to them, in real-time. Follow hay fever alerts, weather, train times and many more features that will improve your experience of Glasgow life. Creative studio O Street is working on the dashboard’s visual interface and quickly identified that a solid set of icons would be required to guide the user through the wealth of information available. “We’re obsessed with icons, as visual communicators it’s one of the key tools we have in our arsenal. There is always illustration, typography, colour, photography and beautiful aesthetics but icons are something we come back to again and again”, says designer Neil McDonald. The popularity of the infamous toilet signs proves the effectiveness and longevity of a solid icon set.
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The benchmark for an effective icon set can be drawn from the first ever examples of a visual language based on literal elements…Hieroglyphics. If the ancient Egyptian’s can still communicate an idea after 5000 years, they must have been doing something right!
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Otl Aitcher, famous for defining the basic elements used in most icon and pictogram sets you’ll see today is always a source of inspiration.

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Using Otl Aitcher approach – taking an object and reducing it to its most basic form – we can communicate a visual language quickly and effectively. This one is for ‘Venison’ in the ‘Seasonal Food’ dashboard widget… Print

…then trying to establish a consistent set of building blocks for further icons, like the further use of circles and lines in this ‘Windy’ icon we are creating for the ‘Weather’ widget Print

…but making sure we leave in flair and personality with simple flourishes, like those in our cherries. Print

There is an inexplicable and fascinating magic to icons, when a literal icon remains long after the literal object it illustrates has disappeared. Will we continue to recognise this speed camera icon? Print

…long after the last of these folding box cameras has sold out on auction listings?… Print

Will we use this phone icon…

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…long after our children fail to recognise rotary phones compared to our modern equivalents. One things for sure though, the Glasgow weather isn’t going to change anytime soon… O-Street_Image-11 Check back soon to follow the progress of the Glasgow dashboard.