Our Open Data Day 2018 @ hack.institute

This blog has been reposted from Medium

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Equal Development theme.

The Open Data Day 2018 hackathon at our place near Barbarossa Platz began in the morning (at 9am) and went all day long until 8pm in the evening. The different participants (or hackathletes as we like to call them) came from all parts of Cologne and even from other cities throughout the province of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

The topic of our hackathon was (as intended) air pollution and nitrogen dioxide pollution in particular. All of which can’t be talked about enough since the pollution is invisible but its impact on our health is not. And especially in the inner city of Cologne there is lots and lots of air pollution.

We had breakfast together and got each other to know while drinking a coffee or two. So we had time to appreciate our similarities and differences before we started working. We had about thirty participants pitching around ten ideas, which ultimately formed themselves into three groups, each of them with their own goal based on the best pitches made.

The three different projects that were realized during our hackathon for Open Data Day 2018 were, as already stated, all about nitrogen dioxide pollution in Cologne and all of the hacks worked with (or compared) the different figures from the two main sources that monitor air pollution in our area. The first one being the City of Cologne, the second one being Open Air Cologne, a joint venture by OKlab Cologne, Everykey, the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and again the City of Cologne themselves.

Our hackers went on to built python scripts, parsers and APIs to transmit data, transform data, to compare the measurements between the two data sources and to visualize them and make the data machine-readable for other users and visualizations.

Concerning the accomplishment of goals we are happy to announce that one project was completely finished and the two runner ups were almost finished and in a working condition. Also the goal of connecting people and keeping them connected was accomplished since some of the participants are still in email communication concerning their projects.

Our community did a great deal of furthering the cause. We had a principal direction where we wanted to go but the projects/hacks were all planned and formed by the participants themselves. Also the two hour long Barcamp that was held helped a lot in giving the pitches shape and furthering the scope of each project.

Still through feedback we got the insight that it might have been even more productive to be a little bit more strict in guiding the participating hackers and maybe look even closer at their individual strengths to everyone can take part in the project in the most fitting way. We would also like to try to use our next Hackathons as a thematic bridge between the last and the following Open Data Day. We have a LoRaWAN Hackathon coming up where the projects from our Open Data Day Hackathon could be expanded on.

Regarding the comparison to the Open Data Day 2018 Hackathon held by the Women Economic and Leadership Initiative (our tandem organisation for the ODD18) we were able to find several similarities between our events aside from being about open data. The most outstanding similarity being the purpose to connect open data enthusiasts with each other, while on the other hand the most obvious difference is that they targeted a slightly different group of participants since they were focusing on female participants while our Hackathlon was gender unspecific.

We had a great Open Data Day 2018 and enjoyed it very much to share the day with the Open Data community. We are happily looking forward to have a great Open Data Day again in 2019.

We are also very grateful for our great sponsors and partners:
pro.volutionEmbersRailsloveTDWIKöln Express and Kölner Stadtanzeiger and especially the City of Cologne.

Thank you very much again.

Hack on!