The Manchester Hackathon not bad for No.1

For those of you who missed it, the first Manchester Hackathon occurred last weekend. Manchester City Council, FutureEverything and ourselves came together to create 24 hours of coding deliciousness.

The hackathon was part of Manchester City Council’s commitment to open data and was the motivation for the release of datasets, APIs and documentation for the event. Data can be found here on the MDDA website The variety of data available ranges from trees which is all the more pertinent as Ash Dieback spreads through the country, Contact Centre data and Contaminated Land which is a hugely contentious dataset. A lot of the data released was in consultation with the Open Data Manchester community.

The format of the Hackathon created an intense atmosphere in MadLab as 45 coders and designers strove to create something demonstrable by the 5pm deadline. In the end 16 teams presented their creations in two minute quick fire presentations.

The winners were:

Best Under 21’s Creation – £600 – Bus Tracker by 19 year old MMU student Bilawal Hameed, the Bus Tracker app will let you find the nearest bus stop to you, direct you to it and give you the times and destinations of the next bus due.

Best Visualisation and Developers Prize (voted for by everyone taking part in the Hackathon)- £600 for each prize, was won John Rees for his app called Sat Lav. If you are caught short in the City, you just open the app and it will direct to nearest public toilet including those in shops and bars which allow the public to use.

Best Locative Application, the £600 prize was won by Matt Schofield for his Taxi Rank Finder app. Matt’s app shows the nearest taxi rank to you and directs you to it. It also shows if it is a marshalled rank and its opening times.

Best Solution for an Identified Problem (£600 prize) was won by Slawomir Wdowka and Imran Younis for their Manchester Voice which would allow the public to submit ideas to the council, then checks records to see if other people have made the same suggestion. When an idea is developed it would allow the public to vote on it.

The grand prize of £1,000 + £3,600 in development funding was won by Data Crossfader, created by James Rutherford and Ashley Herriott, a visualisation tool that plots information on a map of Manchester to allow people to compare important sets of data. For example, using postcode details it shows the locations of road traffic incidents on a map, and then adds where speed cameras are, so if they is a particular area where accidents happen which are not covered by a camera, it easily shows that on a map.

By the end of the event a number of developers had been approached to develop their ideas further and we’ll try and keep track of where that gets to.

For a much more in depth post by James Rutherford click here

ODM – September 2012 Edition

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Tuesday 25th September
Venue: MDDA, 117-119 Portland Street, Manchester M1 6ED

Sign up on Eventbrite

After a brief summer hiatus Open Data Manchester is back and temporarily at a different venue.
The last event saw James Cattell from Digital Birmingham, Andrew MacKenzie from the UK Governments Open Data User Group and Jag Goraya from GIST Foundation in Sheffield talking about how open data initiatives were developing in Birmingham and Sheffield and Birmingham City Council’s adoption of a corporate open data strategy.

Since the last meeting there has been quite a bit of activity mostly around some forthcoming hackdays and support for open data initiatives in Manchester. Last Tuesday we had the launch of Tech Hub Manchester in Carver’s Warehouse on Dale Street, Manchester. This is going to be a new co-working space networked into Tech Hub London and a wider international digital start-up community and we will be having the Tech Hub people coming to talk about the initiative and Start-up Weekend a two day hack event utilising open data.

The City of Manchester is also looking at developing open data as far as part of a new Technology Strategy Board – Future Cities Demonstrator project. This is a large £24 million fund that will help the creation of digital services within the city. Anne Dornan who is working on the project will explain how open data fits into this.

If you are interested in public transport, and a lot of people are, Move*Manchester is an Innovation Challenge that will be running in March 2013. The planning is being finalised, but it will entail a weekend event based around a hackathon that will lead to product development and support. The prize fund and support package to develop products and services will be approximately £35,000 and is part of the CitySDK programme run by FutureEverything and Manchester City Council with the support of Open Data Manchester. More details to follow.

Also we will be looking at the latest data releases on DataGM, TfGM, cool developments and anything else people want to show

Open Data and the Personalisation of Experience

Earlier in July at SMC_MCR, a monthly digital and social technology meet up in Manchester UK,  BBC R&D demonstrated a new approach to personalised entertainment called Perceptive Media. It is something that BBC producer Ian Forrester had been talking about for some time, being revealed at SMC_MCR in February. At that point it was hard to understand what the concept entailed. It was explained as a way of delivering media that was tailored to individual preference and environment but little else.

 

On their return in July the team showcased a short radio play demonstrating some of the concepts of Perceptive Media. The play can be found here http://futurebroadcasts.com/ At first listening the play seems to follow the traditional radio play form, but within the play there are certain personalisations that are based upon the location of the listener. After a couple of listenings it is quite obvious where the personalisations exist. As Ian Forrester stated in the Q&A, it was a fairly basic demonstration of the technology pointing to the challenges of narrative personalisation and the ability to create these personalisations ‘on the fly’, in the browser. Even with such a short and somewhat basic demonstration of Perceptive Media it is easy to see how it could develop into a more complex form cutting across platforms.

 

The personalisation aspect of Perceptive Media comes from the creation of a narrative framework that allows certain variables to be inserted, with these variables influenced from the data that the Perceptive Media storyteller has access to. In the case of ‘Breaking Out’ – the play in the demonstration – the data accessed was local weather, listings and local news. As more data is made available it is easy to see how it could be integrated into a Perceptive Media framework. The demonstration offers a glimpse into a new form of story telling based on an individuals location and environment and if coupled with personal data – preference and situation.

 

In 2009 at FutureEverything there was a presentation by Philip Trippenbach, then at the BBC, about the construction of narrative in games especially first person games. He highlighted a game called ‘Six days in Fallujah’ which he writes about here http://trippenbach.com/2009/06/09/six-days-in-fallujah-and-the-dirty-g-word/ What I find of interest is the possible use of the form to be educational, to disseminate news and information in a way that many would be uncomfortable with. What Trippenbach talks about is a personalisation of experience, a certain ‘being there’. The use of real situations to create realistic gaming experience is not new but a concerted attempt to create ultra-realistic gaming through streaming of real-time positional and telemetry data from Formula 1 Grand Prix was attempted in 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7440658.stm Although as the article states it would probably only be of interest to hardcore gamers, it offers fascinating possibilities about could be achieved at this intersection of gaming, personalisation and data.

 

Although not using open data, a great example of this was demonstrated at FutureEverything in 2011. Arcade Fire’s – We Used To Wait scores a personalised film called The Wilderness Downtown by Chris Milk developed in association with Google Labs. It invites the user to enter the address of where they grew up and then the HTML5 based experience literally flies. You can try it here: http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/

 

Data both open and personal is at the centre of the personalised experience whether it be local weather, what food we like, position of racing cars, location of where we once lived or the environment in which real-life situations were played out. We are starting to see a new world where the way information is delivered to us is adaptive, often in real-time and just for us. It might not be to everyone’s liking but it is happening, just look what Google are doing: http://www.google.com/landing/now/

 

Disclosure: Julian Tait is a co-founder of SMC_MCR and content programmer for FutureEverything