Blog by Steve Ford, Graduate Consultant at Interpret
Recently I was in a team competing in the GovHack Open Data Hackathon, joined by Andrew Douglas-Clifford (The Map Kiwi) and Hamish Kingsbury (Interpret). This was my first appearance at an event like this, which bought together developers, storytellers and other people with a diverse range of skills to work on projects that make use of open Government datasets.
There was a strong spatial element in the projects that were produced this year, with HERE Maps taking the principle sponsor role. This was an advantageous occurrence for us, with many other teams consisting of only software developers.
Our concept development was a web application that allowed users to find nearby rivers, lakes and beaches of a swimmable grade. This used Ecan water testing data from locations around Canterbury and the HERE Maps API for routing from user locations to their potential destinations using FME. A swim-ability index based on the grade and distance to water features was created and the top three water bodies returned to the user.
Daunting would be one word to describe the lead up to the weekend for me, I was headed for an intense weekend of planning, strategizing, learning, data manipulation, development (that at times would seem way over my head) and presenting. There was also the prospect of cramming 30 hours of development into only a couple of days and the subsequent lack of sleep.
It turned out to be hugely rewarding. The team overcame the challenges of time, tiredness and having endless development possibilities from open datasets to create a well-oiled, functional and visually attractive app (considering the time constraints).
The prizes weren’t half bad either, with UE Booms and Samsung galaxy smartphones seemingly being distributed around the room at the conclusion of the event (and they were only the spot prizes!).
Definitely worth penciling in the dates for next year!