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Hack For Impact - what happens next?

Back in July, ODI Leeds ran the Hack for Impact event, the aim of which was to create a dashboard (or multiple dashboards) measuring 'impact' across Yorkshire. We had some excellent output, so we were really interested to see whether people had continued, or wanted to continue, building upon their work.

On Friday 27 September 2019, we held a follow-up session here at ODI Leeds, to reflect on whether the event was a success, and what attendees might want to do moving forward.

The overall response was very positive - everyone enjoyed the event, and although not everyone from the hackathon was there, those that did attend seemed eager to continue with their work. There's a google doc here which captures some of the ideas on how projects might move forward, but I thought I'd share some of the main points.

We had plenty of attendees from Yorkshire Water (who supported the hackathon), some of whom worked on the 'Natural Knowledge' project. They wrote a great blog about this, explaining it in detail, but the general idea is that it is a map-based web app, which aims to allow people to explore natural capital in their area. For example, you can see beaches nearby, which are rated Poor to Excellent. The team were keen to take their work further - some key points of the discussion were:

  • Create the data infrastructure
  • Share the data openly
  • Collaborate - internally and externally
  • Make it visible - people might not think of Yorkshire Water as a resource for this sort of data

It was also brilliant to have Sorrel Harriet with us - a lecturer from Leeds Trinity University, who worked on a project called Skills Bubble Pop; the aim of which is to identify desirable technical skills in the digital jobs market, by identifying keywords from tweets. She also felt there was potential in extending Skills Bubble Pop beyond the hackathon, as it would be especially helpful for universities to be able to tailor their courses based on the idea of supply and demand for particular skills. She hopes to build a 'digital skills ontology' to help with this. We discussed some ideas moving forward - the project would be helpful to a wide group of people, so perhaps there's an opportunity to collaborate. Some of the data and outputs from our Skills data workshop might also be useful.

Our Future Leeds, who worked on a 'Climate Countdown' dashboard at the hackathon, were unfortunately unable to attend, but they've been in touch and expressed that they are planning to continue their work. At ODI Leeds, I've been doing some work towards our own 'Carbon Dashboard', which will be completely open, so I'm hoping to collaborate with Our Future Leeds. I'm currently working on flight emissions as part of any carbon calculations - attendees of the follow-up event got a sneak peek. If you have any insight or input regarding flight emissions, please do get in touch on Twitter @ODILeeds with any thoughts or ideas.

There's plenty of other projects from the hackathon not mentioned, but we haven't forgotten about them - you can see all of the projects from the actual event on my blog or on ODI Leeds' 'Dashboard of Dashboards.' We're hoping to follow up with some other attendees; notably the Environment Agency, who, in the spirit of being #RadicallyOpen, released previously internal-only data especially for the event. They worked on Upstream, a web app which crowdsources and displays incident reports about floods, and it would be excellent to see this develop further.

We have a collaborative follow-up document here, which you're welcome to add any thoughts or ideas to - anything you think might be helpful for those teams who are wishing to continue their work. Alternatively, drop us a tweet @ODILeeds.

Our next big event, #PlanetData, should provide the perfect opportunity for some of these projects to be developed further. We want to bring together everyone who is working on solutions - technological, social, behavioural, digital - to the climate emergency and get them talking to and working with each other. Opening up conversations about challenges, missing data, and asking for help. The climate emergency is not going to slow down so we need to speed up our efforts.