Last Wednesday evening we held the first of a series of evening events running up to our Environment hackday on the 13th-14th February. This post has a short summary of what we discussed and an outline of the events happening over the next few weeks.

The Bath: Hacked Meetup page now lists four evening events which will be held between now and the hack day.

The first three are idea generation and “show and tell” events. These will be held on the 20th and 28th January, and the 3rd February. At each of these events we’re planning to have a discussion on specific ideas and challenges that we may want to explore during the hack day. We’re also inviting along experts from the local council and environmental groups to tell us more about their work and share their insights with the group.

We’re still finalising the guests, so be sure to check meetup to get the latest information. But as an example, on the 28th we’ll be having talks from:

  • Cathy Hough – smart cities & renewable energy
  • Cleo Newcombe-Jones – on the natural environment in B&NES
  • Paul Pearce – Green Spaces, parks and play areas

For those of you unable to make it we’ll be publishing a summary of each session here. We’re hoping that this preparation will provide more insight that will not only guide some creative use of technology and data at the hack day, but also seed some longer lasting projects.

The fourth of our evening events will be our hackday pre-meetup, on the 10th February. This event will be a great opportunity to:

  • hear a summary of the idea generation evenings
  • get an overview of the new and updated data that will be available
  • learn about the prizes we’ll be offering at the hack day (we have some good ones!)
  • meet some fellow hackers and have a few beers

What are we hoping to build? And what data will we have?

The two main topics of discussion last Wednesday were: what new data will we have, and how do we hope it might be used?

We’re currently working with various departments in the council to open up some additional data for the hack day. We’re hoping to have new and refreshed data about the local environment, including green spaces and biodiversity data, and some data on energy usage in public buildings. We may also have some data from other local organisations.

We’ll be blogging about these new datasets over the next few weeks. For now, the Environment category on the data store is a good place to start.

We also discussed the types of things that might be built on the day. This yielded a variety of ideas:

  • A visualisation, interactive map, or art work that tells us something about the local area
  • A data-driven story that raises awareness of an environmental challenge or the work of a local community or group
  • An application that collects data, e.g. a citizen science application that supports biodiversity research
  • A data-driven application that uses or presents some of the data in the store to help address a local challenge, e.g. by encouraging or supporting recycling or local food consumption
  • Any web or mobile application that addresses a local environmental issue – open data may just be used to identify the problem, rather than be part of the solution

We think this provides opportunities for anyone to get involved. The last example is particularly worth highlighting: sometimes data is most important to help evidence a problem, it isn’t necessarily part of crafting a solution.

With that in mind, over the next few weeks we’ll be digging deeper into a variety of environmental themes. Get over to meetup and reserve your place at the discussion and the hackday. We hope to see you at the next event!

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