NC Connect

Project Info

Prototyping: Something is being built

A platform that makes it easy for communities to publish and maintain a database of services, and allows developers to build impactful applications that serve residents.

The platform consists of:

  1. A RESTful API

  2. An Admin site for updating and adding services

  3. A geo-aware website that makes it easy to locate services of interest and ner-by

Project Activity

Update #9

Heroku is trialling new pricing levels for their dynos. Here’s the verbatim text they gave:

Free – Experiment in your own dev or demo app with a web and a worker dyno for free. Sleeps after 1 hr of inactivity. Active up to 12 hours a day. No custom domains. 512 MB RAM.

Hobby – Run a small app 24×7 with the Heroku developer experience for $7/dyno/mo. Custom domains. Run a maximum of one dyno per Procfile entry. 512 MB RAM.

Standard 1X, 2X: Build production apps of any size or complexity. Run multiple dynos per Procfile entry to scale out. App metrics, faster builds and preboot. All Hobby features. 512MB or 1GB RAM. $25 or $50/dyno/mo. ​ Performance – Isolated dynos for your large-scale, high-performance apps. All Standard features. Compose your app with performance and standard dynos. 6GB RAM. $500/dyno/mo.

It appears to be an attempt to cut down the amount of freeloaders using Heroku. Nowadays, especially with faster code and faster computers, a standard 512MB dyno can power websites with tens of thousands of hits per hour. Few web apps need more than 1 web dyno, and worker dynos are often not needed. This means that Heroku would only get paid via add-ons, but most add-ons are provided by third parties.

In this new pricing structure, you can’t pop up a free site and leave it running 24/7—it would cost you $7/month instead. Any real app can no longer live on the free tier, so I would expect the proportion of paying customers to increase under this new pricing scheme. Instead of Heroku being the “obvious” choice for a web app because it’s free, you could instead measure the $7/month cost against alternatives:

Free tier of Google App Engine—as far as I know, GAE’s free tier is still useable for real apps. But, you’re limited to PHP, Java, Go, or Python plus the quirks of App Engine’s platform.

dotCloud—I don’t understand dotCloud as I’ve never used it, but they seem to price things by $4.32/month per 32MB of RAM used. It seems a bit steep to me, but maybe there’s something I’m missing.

AWS—A t2.micro would suit any small app just fine, and it (along with a tiny RDS database) would fall under the AWS free tier for a year. A t2.micro has 1GB of RAM and costs about $9.52/month outside of the free tier.

Other commodity VPS providers—Digital Ocean starts a $5/month for a 512MB VPS. Linode starts at $10/month for a 1GB VPS.

Many hobbyists value their time spent configuring Linux at approximately $0/hour, so you’d have to calculate that cost along with lock-in costs for each alternative. Note that Heroku hasn’t announced what will happen to the old pricing tier, so existing users may be grandfathered in or may be forced to switch.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #8

Clarifying a part of the model. There are two approaches to the problem of data updates/curation. One require all participating agencies to to cleanse the data and output in a pre-defined prescribed format(Open Refferal) or two, meet them where they are and get the data in what ever format they are using it now. As long as its, digital(that can include PDF) we can then mold the data into a standard format. The second problem does suffer from the problem that less data will be available at the onset, but the users of the system will see some results more quickly and with less effort on their part.

Hopefully this will show them the usefulness of the system and bring them along naturally and encouraging them to gather and maintain more through data. The first approach will provide richer data earlier, but will suffer from agencies lacking the resources to gather and maintain the data. In other words, they have to do a lot more work up front with the promise that it pay off later.


Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #7

Had an encourage phone call with a state level agency looking at our project. They like the simplicity of the site and general approach to the problem. Moving forward going to give them access to the test site as an admin. See where it goes.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #6

The web scraping has gone slower than expected. Unhandled erros which required code tweaks in place. On the final 100 pages and going over the others. As I have heard in my interviews with providers, they have gamed the system. Service titles include location and service category all over the place. Going to require a lot of curation and culling of records now.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #5

NC 211 site does this functionality but the functionality is difficult to use. Scraping the site as I learn Python to pull down the data and port it to the application.

Need help with telling the story and adding features. Thanks.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #4

Right now I am in the process of refactoring the database for the future upgrades

Done: The actual refactoring of the database schema

Underway: Reworking the import scripts to match new schema

To-Do Modify the API for read/write access Rewire the front end to match the new API.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #3

The URL's for the prototype are:



Contact me and I will get logins setup to access the backend.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #2

I'm not a Heroku hero, more of a Heroku zero but I have the platform up and running.

Frontend App

Backend - Admin and API access

Let me know what y'all think.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Update #1

Looking to get a test site stood up on Heroku or another cloud service.

Is there a Heroku hero around?

Posted on by Chris Mathews