After the Hack

Earlier this month we welcomed hackday veterans and newcomers to the first Hack the City. Of course, it wasn’t about breaking into City Hall’s computer systems – it was about helping people find out about and engage with their city through the public data that’s available to them.

Some came to experiment with open data, others to knock together a civic hack, and a few to prototype a data-driven startup concept with a view to entering the Open Data Institute’s Challenge Series programme.

Before we get into where the different hack projects are a few weeks on, it’s worth remembering that hackdays aren’t just about the hacks on the day. Conversations that start on the day can lead to some great contributions and collaborations that continue or are realised only after the event. Some of those we’d love to see taken forward that started at Hack the City include:

The breadth of organisations getting involved on the day was great – the Open Data Institute and Nesta, the Home Office, as well as community organisations and commercial enterprises of varying scale.

That gave us a great mix of talent and interests in the room, including citizens, policy advisors, data owners, designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, journalists as well as software developers to turn ideas into reality.

In all, nearly 30 folk gathered to progress half a dozen hack projects, chosen from over a couple of dozen ideas to improve urban and civic experiences using open data that were put forward at the start of the day.

Thanks to everyone who came along or supported to make Hack the City a success.  If it has inspired you to get involved or you want to find out more about open data in your local area, you’re welcome to join us at future Open Data Sheffield meetups. They’re usually in the evenings on the third Monday of the month, but keep updated for the latest by following @opensheffield on Twitter.

Hack the City was produced by MundoJumbo for Open Data Sheffield, in partnership with the Open Data Institute and Nesta  as part of the Open Data Challenge Series.  You can find out more about Series’ Crime and Justice Creation and Innovation Weekend on 12-13 October from this piece by Simon Whitehouse, the first Series Lead.

On the next page is a rundown of the first Hack the City projects, including where to find out more about them or get involved. For blow-by-blow happenings of the day check this Storify.

Final Presentations and Awards

Video streaming by Ustream

Congratulations to all the teams who participated.

Huge thanks to our prize sponsors for some great booty – Make Do, Microsoft, MundoJumbo and Pimoroni.

You can find more footage from the opening presentations and the prizes on the Hack the City UStream channel.

Hope you have a great weekend!


Project: Don’t Park Here!

Andy Giggal is combining police crime data with parking data to produce a map of car parks with a high risk of car crime. This can potentially be used to develop an app or service and could also be used to by insurance services to inform their customers of safer places to park (and offer lower insurance premiums for those that follow the advice).

If you’d like to find out more about this project you can get in touch with Andy through the comments section below.

Sample display of car parks in areas of high recent crime activity.

Project: Gangplank Datashare

Daniel and Ian of Team Gangplank a test-project which aims to create a way for local authorities to import and play with their open data (and other peoples) without having to resort to using proprietary (and costly) software.

If you have any suggestions or would like to get in touch with the team, you can do so via Twitter (or leave a comment below).

Project: Get Around (Little Kelham)


Joe Dreimann describing the Little Kelham project started at Hack the City. The project aims to develop better ways to help people find their daily routes (transport, cycling or walking). The project will continue after Hack the City and will be meeting in Sheffield over the coming months. If you’d like more information, get in touch (especially if you’re Stubbs).


Project: Neighbourhood Crime Feedback

Team Joe are an impressive bunch of students from Sheffield Hallam University, they are Joe Fletcher (of the `Team Joe’ title), Ste Prescott, Jonny Booker and Tom Widdowson. Their project uses the Police open data API and they hope to get an iOS built today and a Windows phone version built tomorrow.

If you’d like to find out more about their project you can contact Ste or Tom via Twitter or on Github.

Project : Gear Up!

John Moss and Eppo Heemstra are setting up an email marketing solution for the popular Stolen Bikes in the UK website. It will send out newsletters and updates to existing customers as new stolen bike data is released, with the end goal of raising awareness around bike theft.

They’re making use of the UK police open data.  If you’d like to find out more, you can contact them via Twitter or leave a comment below.

Project: Library Recommendation Service

This project was suggested by Louis and James the enthusiastic (and brilliant on camera!) sons of Paul Connell from Actuated Futures. They had to leave half way through the day but not before drawing up their plans and an outline of how it could work in practice and drumming up support from lots of people on Twitter.

If you’d like to find out more you can get in touch with Simon Whitehouse who’s looking after the project today.

Things To Know for Participants

It’s finally upon us – there are less than 48 hours to go before Hack the City! Here’s the essential info you need to make the most of the weekend.

Where and When

We’re based in the Showroom Cinema all weekend. It’s opposite Sheffield train station at the end of the silver fountain (it’ll make sense when you come out of the station).

  • Friday: Meet us at the back of the Showroom Bar from 7pm. They serve lovely food until 9pm in case you don’t get a chance to eat before joining us.
  • Saturday: Follow the signs for Hack the City to Showroom 5. Doors open from 9:15am, and we kick off at 9:45am. We’ll keep you fed throughout the day, right up to the Show’n’Tell and Awards at 8pm, followed shortly by drinks.
  • Sunday: We’re back in Showroom 5 from 10am to build on, take forward or even start a new hack.

Hack Ideas and Datasets

You can also drill down into some of the key datasets relevant to the Open Data Institute’s Challenge Series on Crime & Justice from this wiki resource.

If you haven’t already, let people know what projects you may want to experiment with over the weekend on Twitter via the #hackthecity tag.

Friday evening is a great chance to meet other collaborators, and sound out your ideas before we enter the hack zone on Saturday, as well as to find out what other people are thinking of doing.

Kit and Caboodle

We’ll have all the usual analogue tools to break out your ideas and work up your hacks. Be sure to bring your own laptop, other digital kit or specialist equipment of choice (sketchbooks, lucky pen, VGA adaptor, spare battery, etc).

Keeping Updated

Follow the hashtag #hackthecity to keep up to date with key announcements. If you get stuck, lost or delayed, you can get hold of me via @jagusti or 07968 948527.

We’re really looking forward to seeing you all this weekend. If you are joining us on Friday, please be sure to grab a Pre-Hack ticket so we know who to keep an eye out for. If you can no longer make it, please let us know – either directly or by cancelling your ticket through Eventbrite.