Bath:Hacked – a joint council/community initiative that aims to use open data to do useful things for the community (and not to mention, SPARKies tech awards ‘good’ award finalist!) – held an inspiring hack just last week, as part of the Bath Digital Festival.
Using data from Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES), 35 bright sparks came up with ideas to encourage community engagement in environmental issues.
“It’s hugely rewarding to see such fantastic ideas with a real community benefit at their heart coming out of our events”
The response from attendees, who ranged from graphic designers to coders, was impressive to say the least. In just 2 days they developed some innovative ideas, from a gaming app to incentivise people to report issues in their neighbourhood to a website aimed at driving down costs in public buildings.
Leigh Dodds, chair of Bath:Hacked, explains: “Our aim is to capitalise on the huge amounts of open data available by encouraging attendees to our hack events to use it for a wider community purpose. It is hugely rewarding to see such fantastic ideas with a real community benefit at their heart coming out of our events.”
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It’s great to see so much being done with public data, and so many techies willing to give up their time for such a good cause. With events like this happening all the time in the region (see our tech events calendar to find one for you!), it’s no surprise then that Tech City UK’s latest Tech Nation report has just revealed that the Bristol and Bath region is home to the most productive digital tech cluster in the UK, with 81 per cent of local businesses citing access to local networks – such as Bath:Hacked – as a key benefit of the cluster.
Top green hacks
Missed out on the environment hack? Why not check out Bath:Hacked’s very own time lapse of the teams presenting their ideas below.
Bath Hacked 4 #lovestheenvironment: Presentations Timelapse from Jack McConnell.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Bath:Hacked event without winners! Out of ten teams, the top 3 ideas were awarded prizes, as well as a ‘People’s Choice’ winner, chosen by the attendees themselves.
First prize: Enviromates
Enviromates came up with the idea for a gaming app offering points to players for visiting key sites in the community, for example parks, with the aim of incentivising people to report issues, for example damage or litter, via the game.
“Bath:Hacked events welcome people from a whole array of backgrounds”
Second prize: School Power
School Power devised a website designed to analyse the energy usage data from councils and schools. The analysis aims to identify where cost savings can be made. The site also ranks the schools and council buildings to encourage positive action.
My Noisy Neighbour came up with a data-inspired idea to create an online form to report noise disturbances, offering real-time updates (see right) so people can track the progress of their complaint.
The People’s Choice: Actual Bins
Actual Bins developed their own version of ‘a geocache app’, which tracks players’ positions, allowing them to tag public bins as part of a treasure hunt-style game. The app also has the potential to double up as a way of incentivising players to report issues, such as overflowing bins, to the council.
Bath:Hacked is a community group encouraging participation from all backgrounds, regardless of how much experience you might have working with data or creating your own apps or games.
Leigh explains: “Although we do attract coders, apps designers and others from tech-related industries, Bath:Hacked events also welcome people from a whole array of backgrounds, including statisticians, artists and graphics designers.”
You can join Bath:Hacked’s meetup group to stay up-to-date with their events. Can’t wait till the next hack? Why not check out the Bath:Hacked open data store for free access to local data across all sorts of themes including the economy, health and transport. You can also follow Bath:Hacked on Twitter: @BathHacked.
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