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Rapid prototyping with environmental datasets – International Open Data Day 2017

International Open Data Day, Wellington was held in the National Library of New Zealand on Saturday, 4th March.  This was one of over 300 events running around the globe at the same time. Over 60 participants signed up to take part with some spending the full day working on innovative projects, others rolling in throughout the day.  

open data day 2017

The event was organised collaboratively between the data.govt.nz team, the Open Government Information and Data Programme and GovHackNZ with support and sponsorship from the National Library and Statistics NZ.  

The theme for the Wellington event was around environment and conservation open data and it was great to have the Department of Conservation (who are currently making data open via APIs) there on the day helping people out. 

The day began with participants forming cross-functional teams through a human sociogram (a cluster data model using human beings and physical space) - led by hackathon regular and collaboration wrangler, Dan Randow

Six teams formed, uncovered an environmental problem to tackle and by the end of the day all had something to show off in the "show and tell" demos ranging from planned out concepts to working prototypes.  

The six projects were (project code): 

  • "Healthy planet heroes" - A gamified educational application for kids to track healthy eating and use of transport getting to school that results in tracking carbon emissions. 

  • "Geocoding of Alexander Turnbull Library items" - Combines geolocation data from the LINZ data service with recently released collections open datasets from Alexander Turnbull Library to show how our environment connects to historic items. 

  • "Decision distillers" - Functioning tool prototype using QV open data feeds, traffic data, air and water quality data to determine economic benefits and help decisions with land use. 

  • "Fire spread predictor tool" - Tool that could make use of geographic data of fires combined with wind velocity/direction data to predict potential fire spread and warn citizens ahead of time for evacuation purposes. 

  • "SafeWater" - A functioning prototype mobile application for checking whether water near you is safe to swim in and crowdsource water quality observations. 

  • "Escape Routes app" - Concept for an application that shows official evacuation routes in the event of an earthquake or tsunami overlaid with local crowd sourced routes. 

This hackathon-style event demonstrates how citizens and government agencies can collaborate to innovate; rapidly delivering digital service prototypes (useful to both government and start-up business), all powered by open data. 

A lot can be achieved in a single day given the space to play. 

If you'd like to be a part of one of these events, good news - Statistics New Zealand is running another at the end of March called "Datarama". The data.govt.nz team are supporting and will be heading along to put the new Statistics New Zealand APIs through their paces. Looks to be an exciting event.