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Dublin Open Data Day Hackathon 2013

Posted by Dominic Byrne on Thu, 07 Mar 2013 17:28:06 GMT

International Open Data Day was announced for the 23rd February 2013 by David Eaves from Vancouver at the end of last year. With over 90 Cities across the globe taking part the Irish Open Data Community decided to hold a Hackathon in Dublin as the Irish leg of this event.

The Hackathon took place in the Wood Quay Venue of Dublin City Council with Denis Parfenov (@xzy_) and Richard Cantwell (@manaboutcouch) acting as facilitators, and with the logistical support of @Dublinked and @FingalOpenData.

Last year was an eventful one for the Open Data Community in Ireland as virtual and anonymous conversation within the Open Data Ireland Google group turned into face-to-face meetings with a regular schedule of contacts and exchanges.  In this context members were eager to get to take the opportunity to gather for a longer than usual face-to-face meetup.

The Hackathon kicked off with the first hour devoted to vital networking and idea discussion, leading up to project pitches of 2 minutes each. In the first couple of hours there were in excess of 20 ideas, all of which were intriguing, but not all of which were viable for the timeframe.

A refined list of the projects which made it to presentation stage is supplied here and will be edited as participants supply updates:


Participants formed various teams and groups and worked all the rest of the morning until Pizza was served for lunch.

To name a few of the ideas on display, for no particular reason other than the stimulating conversations around them as they were being worked on:

Takes up the idea that while Ireland is a democracy, not all constituencies are created equal. To put this another way some constituencies (the Ohios of Ireland) appear to have a big influence on the outcome of the General Election. The resulting app had a lot of useful information on changing constituency boundaries and populations. It is a good example of a citizenship app if it is completed.

  • Open Space Distance calculator

The always strong spatial-led contribution of Richard Cantwell resulted in a MAPINFO based fuzzy-block map of Dublin which showed parts of the City which are most distant from Parks and Open Space. Richard explained that the hedonic value of open space is something that is shown to be beneficial to health and enjoyment of an area. The map shows the intensity of Development of the Docklands for example, while the rest of Dublin is well served in terms of open space and parks.

  • Hospital Dashboard

Involving Northern Ireland based participants this was inspired by one of the outcomes from the UK’s National Health Service Hack Day in January. Using data published at http://www.hse.ie/eng/staff/Healthstat/about/ and other locations this draws together the available performance data hospital by hospital including matters of public interest like rates for infection, readmission, surgical complications and patient satisfaction scores. This is an interesting app both in terms of transparency and service information but requires large efforts on scraping, parsing and Java-coding.

  • Open Data Finder

Peter McCanney @AyeCode seemed to be involved in spreading his sizeable contributions over a few projects. The most intriguing of these was an Open Data finder which in his demonstration was a straightforward national open data catalog. However, more interesting again was his view that such a project ought to be ‘social’ and therefore facilitate collaboration and advice on how to handle some of these data. This feeds into a potential need for the entire Open Data community in Ireland in identifying common interests in particular kinds of data and types of apps.

For details on all the apps, concepts and projects undertaken please consult http://wiki.opendataday.org/Dublin2013

Not all the project pitches resulted in working apps, however, the objective was to have projects which hack into the data and discuss the nature and context of the available open data, as well as other data which falls short of the strict definition of being open and is available in some other sense. In the final presentations the participants tended to be committing to finish off the apps as a commitment to a bigger project.  The hope is that we can continue on this work through the monthly Open Data Ireland Meetups.

All in all the Hackathon was a worthwhile exercise, it allowed people connect together and discuss what they want to do with Open Data, and make working examples of what will allow the rest of the citizenry to benefit. The more this happens the stronger the case becomes for a full and fast embrace of Open Data in Ireland.

Tweets from the Hackathon have been captured at http://storify.com/FingalOpenData/irish-open-data-day-hackathon-2013

Ciaran Staunton,
Fingal County Council.

5th March, 2013


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