After the Hack

The Hacks

Epitomising the essence of a hackday – build quickly with what you have and have fun doing it – the Neighbourhood Crime Feedback team, produced two mobile apps, one for iOS and one for Windows phone. It used the data available at data.police.uk and you can find the code for the apps on github. The apps allow you to search for local crime info using their location data (through postcode input or GPS). The apps were test projects for the team and they’re not at this stage intending to put them forward for the Open Data Institute Challenge Series. However, the project created some cleaned up, developer-ready datasets which are heading back into the public domain for other datanauts to play with. Watch Ste Prescott describing the project at the start of the day here and see he and Tom Widdowson demonstrating the apps in their final presentation (jump to 12:36).

John Moss and Eppo Heemstra worked on a couple of related projects at the event. The Stolen Bikes UK website already uses content from data.police.gov to feed its stats page.  This was documented during Hack the City using Mashape, a nifty API tool which allows you to test various end points before you write any code.

In addition, John and Eppo wrote and produced a notification service, deploying newsletters across stolen-bikes.co.uk, checkthatbike.co.uk and findthatbike.co.uk. The first newsletter is scheduled for release in October. John intends to take Check That Bike forward at the upcoming Challenge Prize events. In addition, he’s looking at providing a set of boilerplate PHP files showing the basics of mapping and querying for the Check that Bike API which is available to anyone who’d like to use it. In the longer term, if there are any mobile developers looking to develop apps around the site, he’d be interested in hearing from them and can be contacted at john@stolen-bikes.co.uk.  You can see John presenting their project here (start at 05:05).

Ian Ibbotson (@ianibbo) and Daniel Drozdzewski (@digi_noise) produced a piece of open source software called Gangplank that aimed to address some of the issues local authorities have in releasing open data, including

  1. they have to release it via costly proprietary software;
  2. the data cleansing process is sometimes inadequate;
  3. the data they produce is not comparable to data produced by other local authorities.

Over the course of the day, Ian and Daniel began to develop a framework and mechanism of software that could address these issues for a data manager. You can watch Ian presenting the final working product here (start at 07:33).  They are continuing to build on their project with the intention of presenting it for pilot with a local authority in the near future.

Andy Giggal worked on the Don’t Park Here app, aiming to provide drivers with information on the safest places to leave their cars not just in their hometown but also when visiting cities they’re less familiar with. Alongside the instant benefits to drivers of knowing that their cars are (more likely) safe whilst they get on with their day, Andy also identified potential tie-ins for insurance companies where drivers could negotiate lower rates by committing to use safer car parks.  Andy is continuing to work on this project post-Hack the City. He’s not on any social network, so if you’d like to find out more or want to get involved, get in touch through the comments and we’ll connect you.

Finally, two other ambitious projects began at the event.

Library Recommendation Service

The Library Recommendation Service, was dreamt up by the superb young digital visionaries, James and Louis Connell, who came along for the day with their dad Paul.  They wanted to know why, when they went to the library, they couldn’t get recommendations about what to read next and why they couldn’t also give feedback on books to help other readers make decisions about what to read. You can see Louis and James presenting their idea here and Simon Whitehouse presenting their ideas in the final presentations  (sound kicks in at 00:56).  Although the idea generated a lot of interest from people at the event and away from the event, there haven’t any plans to take it forward. It was a great example of how many good ideas could be introduced into public services if there were easier ways to begin those conversations with the right people. There was a lot of enthusiasm to support the development of such a service if a library would come on board. So, if you are a library manager or librarian who wants to discuss this project idea, please do get in touch. Similarly, if you know of existing services like this in libraries, let us know as we’d love to hear about how it works in practice.

The final project was Little Kelham, a Smart Cities community regeneration project which hoped to bring together data on ways people could navigate their local areas and the costs using data and user generated content. You can watch Joe Dreimann explaining the project here. The team are meeting on Saturday 26 October 2013 at Sheffield’s Little Kelham Bakery – register your place for the #littlekelhamhack to get involved or find out more.

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