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National Hack The Government Day 2012 #nhtg12

April 22, 2012

National Hack The Government Day 2012 has come and gone, and boy it was a blast!! Organised by Rewired State (Emma McQueeny and Adam McGreggor) and hosted by Government Digital Service (GDS), it is basically a hack day event on as they say there coding for a better country. It makes use of taking government data and creating prototypes of tools, services, applications or even websites on the 21st April 2012 hence gicving pretty much free reign on what you can do.

Still recovering from the events, I managed to build a working application just before time was up (which I was quite happy about) called FarmAllot.The application FarmALlot is suppose to find your nearest allotment for farming vegetables agreed by DEFRA, and organised by the community to purchase a plot together agreed by DEFRA, and through social communciation. It bypasses the restrictions of going through council and its long waiting lists! It was my idea before the event, and I wanted to stick away from the House Saving API offered by DECC, so I stuck with trying to match the criteria of DEFRA. As it seems the API’s which I wanted to grab from DEFRA where very hard to come by, having spent 1.5 days looking for any data from DEFRA was hard to come by, I tried to look at the Geological Society and Countryside Survey to get soil data of any kind on pollutants but to no prevail, and felt that time was wasted on looking for the API.

Instead my earlier coding attempts seem too have prevailed as I built a map which finds local farms and farmers markets around the UK, and adopted it further to find suitable places for allotments, I then used the uk land directory data via RSS feeds to gather all the locations based on counties, and stick the points on a bing map based on the selected plot of interest. Then finally quickly mocked up a sample message to send to the owner of the plot. I wanted to get some DEFRA data to stick at the end of the plot information to see if it met DEFRA critique but ran out of time! The application won the special award for best application most likely to annoy Government! (which was funny in a way, as I was kind of building it for the people not the Government!).

Notable applications worth mentioning from the Show and Tell were Green Games by John Lyons on an application that awards families rewarded tree points for each green thing they do in the house. It allows different initiatives have different points, based on a green thing they do accumulation of points can get some real life reward, like a trip to the zoo, or to the cinema. Wheres My New House by Tim McGinely and Kevin Daniells which showcased how many house that the council can allow to build within your area, and calculates how much land a potential supermaket can be occupying that piece of land that could be used for housing like Tescos. I particular liked the hack on the google map interfact changing the colour scheme completed to black, yellow, blue and green. See monsterattack.net/demo/nhtg12 .

FInally the application I love the most which ironically won Best In Show award was Loftify by @stef, which was an application that is a service for families to collectively pay for home energy efficiency for older relatives with a little help from the Government. It allows cost savings information such as Get loft insulation and huge efficiency savings. It shows a visualsation with an image of a grandmother figure getting warmer as the cuts of energy were made. It certainly was genuis and comical as well as informative and certainly deserved the award!

I enjoyed the event, met some familiar faces aswell as new ones, and had free beer and pizza, it was particular well organised including the social drinking afterwards, well worth going for next year!!

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