This may already be the worst kept secret in Bath but we’re delighted today to officially announce Bath: Hacked, a two day hackathon for tech heads who love their community, being held on 22nd/23rd March.

The aim of the hack is hugely grandiose and also very simple: We want to kick start the use of open data in B&NES with all the benefits that might entail – transparency, engagement, enablement and a healthy local democracy.

In practice it’s a lot simpler: We want to free local data and use it to make useful things.

It could be an app, a website, a visualisation, a piece of data journalism or even a whole new vision for how the council works. Bath: Hacked is about giving our creative talent the freedom to try.

What data is available?

There’s a lot. Much of it is already available via central government sources but the council has a lot more, from live counts of car parking spaces to air quality monitoring to 1942 bombing maps.

This presents our first problem: What should we make available for the hack?

We won’t even try to second guess you and the event effectively starts today with an open door to data requests. Jon Poole, B&NES Research Manager (and our hack champion inside the council) wants to hear from you.

For inspiration bookmark our datasets page – it’s growing daily.

(Note: An organisation this big simply doesn’t have “a master index of data”. It may be that there’s useful data somewhere in the council that nobody thought about so please do get in touch – you could be the key to unlocking it.)

Who’s making it happen

Getting this far has already taken several months of meetings and we owe a big debt to Paul Gaunt (B&NES Principal Economic, Enterprise & Business Development Officer) who has never failed to get the right people in the room. The council has made key officers available to us for the duration of the event and are also covering the venue and food costs.

The Guild are providing a great place to work and Bath Digital are central in planning the event and pulling together the technical and creative talent to make the hack happen.

It now falls to the steering committee to find a modest prize fund (and some beer money) to say thanks to our hackers for giving their time and talent so freely to the community.

(More on prizes and judging will follow.)

How to get involved

Bath doesn’t lack people who love problem solving and we’re incredibly grateful to see our very small band already growing exponentially with enthusiastic volunteers.

There are loads of ways to help out:

  • Register! If you have an idea, some skills and want to make it happen you should bag a seat. Better still, bring friends and form a team.
  • Help prep data – it could substantially smooth the hack if datasets are available in the easiest possible form. We’re doing our best but help is appreciated.
  • Know a sponsor? This is an important community effort and it’d be great to share the love and see your company’s name behind us.

Finally, stay in touch. Some pre-hack meets are already planned so please keep an eye on this page or follow us on Twitter @BathHacked for updates.

We look forward to having you aboard.

See also: Datasets, Contact us

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