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Government Open Data Hack Day
Various Government's release their information in the form of Open Data.
A hack day or hackathon, is an intensive time bound event to create something.
We aimed to produce something beautiful, insightful or meaningful to benefit the community.
For ideas, listen to this audio interview relating to the event: -
Recorded by William Perrin, the head of Talk About Local.
Birmingham, June 2012
Birmingham Science Park was selected as the location and booked with the help of Kath Preston. Gavin & James had both attended events at this venue and knew there was free, open and reliable wireless internet (essential for a successful hackday).
Twitter was used, primarily to keep costs down and target the correct audience.
There were various costs to be covered including security at the venue, refreshments and pizza.
A budget of £200 was needed to cover the event.
Donations could be made via the EventBrite registration page.
Gavin personally covered the cost of pizza and took donations at the event.
James personally covered the cost of security and refreshments, total cost around £180.
This event used an unconference format and was split over 2 days: -
Friday 8th June, 6pm to 8pm - round table discussion
- Set the scene
- Introductions / speakers
- Identify issues to solve
- Generate ideas
Saturday 9th June, 9:30am to 8:30pm - the hackday.
- Hacking with Open / Free Data to create something
- Find out something nobody knew before (data journalism-esq).
Attendees were advised to bring: -
- their own laptop, tablet or smartphone
- programs or datasets they had
- Data analysts
- Public servants.
Proposed data sets
- Potential Open data sources curated on the day are contained in a document here: 
- Police API
- The Guardian Datastore
- Open Street Map
- Azure Datamarket (if anything is free to use)
- Birmingham City Council Open Data.
Proposed technologies or platforms
- SQL (structured query language)
- R programming language
- PHP (scripting language)
- Scraper Wiki
- Adobe Photoshop
- Microsoft Excel
- Text editor
- Pen & paper
Data in this table taken from Google Docs spreadsheet at
|Dr Rick Robinson||@dr_rick||theurbantechnologist.com|
On day 1, it was decided to focus on open data relating to Quality of Life. The outputs would be visualisations to show complex data in graphical formats. It was also decided to identify a framework or schema description for the Birmingham's planned open data platform. It was suggested that Birmingham City Council could potentially buy any applications or website services created at the event.
By the end of day 2, we had created the following visualisations (in no particular order)
Birmingham Budget Book + voluntary spending data TO FOLLOW
Data Sources actually used
Key Indicators by Constituency - Reshaped - Cal Year only
What Birmingham City Council should do next
Allotment locations and names
Dr Andrew Thomas' work and thoughts
Birmingham, September 2012
The next Government Open Data Hack Day is proposed to be held in Birmingham from 28th to 30th September 2012.