Journalists and developers join forces for Lichfield ‘hack day’

Nov 15, 2010 by Phil

The winners with judges Lizzie and Rita. Pic: Nick Brickett

The winners with judges Lizzie and Rita. Pic: Nick Brickett

An event in Lichfield has brought together journalists and computer programmers from Lichfield and further afield to work together on innovative projects.

The ScraperWiki Hacks and Hackers Hack Day was part of a tour of the UK and Ireland that aims to help journalists understand how they can use data and programming skills to enhance or generate stories, whilst showing developers how their skills can be used to educate and inform a wider audience.

Lichfield District Council and Lichfield-based Journal Local sponsored the event which was held on Bird Street at The George Hotel.

Starting at 9:30am and lasting through till 7:30pm the full day saw the creation of 5 individual projects. Two of those focused on Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) with one aiming to show what PFIs exists by collating information from 470 local councils and the other project mapped PFIs to regions and companies, allowing the information around them to be interrogated.

Future care was the focus of another project which aimed to demonstrate future care needs and areas where the issue may need to be tackled, which involved gathering data on 13,000 care homes and included ownership and location information. The fourth project was a central place for events taking place within Lichfield. The project aimed to scrape information from local web sites which listed events to present alongside each other.

Lastly, there was a project focused around flood warnings which took information from the Environment Agency to create a map showing water levels and the level at which a flood warning would be issued.

Lizzie Thatcher and Rita Wilson from Lichfield District Council were invited to judge the projects and they chose the Lichfield what’s on and flood warning projects as joint winners. They will share a prize of £75 in Amazon vouchers. A special prize of a ScraperWiki mug was also awarded to the what’s on project for their effective use of ScraperWiki to build proper web scrapers which collate the information they required.

Pictures from the event by Nick Brickett:

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