The City Got Hacked!

On March 5, the Open City Team, in partnership with the Edmonton Public Library, co-hosted the 3rd annual Hackathon in conjunction with International Open Data Day. Over 65 participants signed up to hack away all day Saturday, March 5, with the hopes of creating data tools that will help Edmontonians in everyday life.

Mayor Don Iveson and Councillor Andrew Knack kicked off the event with some inspirational and impactful messages.

“This International Hackathon empowers citizens to experiment with using data in new and interesting ways to transform our city,” says Mayor Iveson.

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Open Data Day is a gathering of citizens in cities around the world to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data to show support for and to encourage the adoption of open data policies.

“Our objective for the Hackathon is to challenge participants to use City data to address real community needs and build social and economic opportunities,” says Wendy Gnenz, Director of Open City & Innovation.

Participants spent the morning giving project pitches and attending workshops, which were a big hit and showed great value. One of the highlights of the day was a presentation by Karen Parker, Business Solution Analyst for the Analytics Centre of Excellence (ACE).  To a packed house, she demonstrated to participants how easy it is to connect the City’s Open Data to create interactive visualizations using Tableau Public®. Karen chose to demo Edmonton’s local schools, showing the different districts, student populations, grade levels and locations.

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Participants worked their hacking magic for the next few hours until the time came to showcase what they had created.  In just one day, over a dozen apps and new websites were created using the City’s Open Data. The winning project was the Property Assessment Map created by Eugene Chen, Director of Dark Horse Analytics.

Other products created included Picknic, an app that helps you find the nearest picnic table using a sliding scale on what traits it must have; perfect for planning a date for that special someone. Another honorable mention was the MyEdmonton App which pulls multiple datasets relevant to your neighbourhood including, blading, sweeping, garbage collections, fire rescue activity, rainfall data, weather and much more. This app was created by Jas Panesar, he plans to fine tune his app and have some beta testers use it before he makes it available for download on Google Play and on the Apple App Store.

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Success was achieved as another Hackathon came to an end – coders came together to look at how they could mash or create a visualization to increase transparency of local government and at the same time provide a tool that people can use every day.

Once the hackathon survey is completed by all the participants, the Open Data Catalogue will house a page that highlights some of the web apps that were created on Open Data Day.

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