The Isobar Microsoft Open Data HackathonOn the 21st and 22nd October 2015, Isobar Nowlab hosted the Open Government Data Hackathon, sponsored by Microsoft, in support of the Department of Public Service and Administration as part of the Open Government Plan (OGP).
Several teams of innovators and collaborators were briefed to find creative outputs for published government data, making it accessible to the public.
The event brought together a varied group of people who wouldn’t normally work together, like developers, designers, strategists, and engineers to bring innovative ideas to life.
“This is about making the future happen", stated Professor Barry Dwolatzky from the University of the Witwatersrand in his opening speech.
The teams had 48 hours to brainstorm, plan, and build their concepts before presenting it to the panel of judges.
The 1st place prize went to Team Baby from Native VML who developed a Twitter bot to randomly fire off tweets using the statistics from 2011 census data. The app allows complex data sets to be translated into easily digestible chunks of information.
Some of the other notable ideas included a small wearable device, called Fati, built by Team Datanator that allows users to detect the nearest WiFi hotspots.
There was also Team Binary, who built a smart street sign, called Pointer, which points people in the direction of the nearest police station, hospital, and other facilities.
Overall the hack was a huge success and the teams helped Microsoft to improve government data sets. Riedwaan Bassadien, Platform Strategy Manager at Microsoft said, “Data can change people’s lives if they can interact with and understand it. We’re bringing data to platforms where everyone can get it.” With the success of this hack, Kerry Friend, Executive Creative Director of Isobar South Africa hopes that this will “start a dialogue and conversation around what data means” and how it can be used in positive ways.