The following guest post is by Duncan Ray, from Destination Hackney.

In Summer 2012, the borough of Hackney in London will be opening its doors to millions of visitors flocking to the Olympic games. It’s an exciting time for this part of London, and through the Race for Apps competition it’s a fantastic opportunity for open data too!

Race for Apps is a competition to crowdsource mobile apps from the digital
community to showcase Hackney’s area and talent to journalists and businesspeople coming into the local Hackney area next year during the Olympics. It’s a collaboration between Hackney Council, the Technology Strategy Board and Digital Shoreditch.

Race For Apps from race for apps on Vimeo.

From the beginning the organisers were very conscious of how releasing data openly could
lead to the creation of innovative apps, and that data could provide a big differentiator
for the competition.

We carried out research, talking to various developers, and got the strong impression
of ‘find my nearest’ and ‘what’s on’ guides as being the key data sets. We have
maintained an open dialogue with developers as the competition has gone live, and
are still picking up with our internal IT team where data is being requested as the
foundation for a new app entrant.

The website Destination Hackney (, launching in
January, showcases Hackney for visitors to the area next year.

Fortunately they had a ready-made data set covering local businesses and events.

Unfortunately the data sets weren’t open: they weren’t licensed for third party
commercial use, which made app development a bit of a non-starter.

To resolve this we are now establishing a new dataset, hosted on Destination
Hackney’s site, that can be freely used by app developers, and we will be updating this via
RSS. The dataset is licensed under the attribution-only Open Government License for Public Sector Information. This will go live from January 2012 for Race for Apps entrants and the data set
will build as more businesses come on board. Benefits for businesses and events are
substantial, with those apps using Destination Hackney data providing a plethora of
new marketing channels for businesses to use to get to visitors next year.

The competition is now on, and you can enter your ideas, finished apps, or apps reworked for the local context in four categories of “Finding Your Way”, “Making Connections”, “Citizen Journalists”, “Fun and Games”, and “Wild Card” on the Race for Apps site. Or you can hold out for the release of the Destination Hackney dataset in the New Year!

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Theodora is press officer at the Open Knowledge Foundation, based in London. Get in touch via