Government ‘Hack Day’ Delivers Public Data Innovation

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A Facebook quiz and local policing feedback board are just two of the ideas that have emerged from a government public data initiative

The government has released details of innovative ideas for making public data more accessible to the public following a ‘hack day’ last week.

The Home Office, Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice invited 10 technology experts from non-profit organisation to develop tools and services, with a brief to “help people feel safe and confident in their homes and neighbourhoods”. The project will be based around the site launched last December, which exposes more than 2,500 application datasets in use across government.

Eighty developers created over 30 working projects from public sector information, from fully working sites to groundwork to much bigger projects. These included a Facebook quiz that challenges perceptions of crime by asking users to predict local crime rates before the reality of crime in the area is revealed, which was developed by Rupert Reddington and Chris Taggart.

And the ‘How’s My Town’ website, which allows users to gather data about living in an area – including crime, schooling and Internet provision – by entering a postcode, which was developed by 15-year-old, Josh Pickett. All of the hacks, which are currently in a development stage, are available on the website.

The ideas were presented to the Prime Minister’s information advisers, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, as well as civil service policy makers.

Meg Hillier, Home Office Minister with responsibility for identity stated: “Events like this make official data more accessible and useful to the public and are an important part of our work to develop smarter government that is more open, more accountable and does more for less.”

The site was launched late last year as part of the “Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government” initiative and initially struggled to cope with demand.

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