Over the last two days I have been fortunate to have been working with Rewired State and and the Greater London Authority (GLA) at City Hall. We have been creating new and interesting ways to engage the public with the data they collect / collate. It was a new and bold iniative for the GLA to take, but the rewards became apparent as soon as the developers revealed what they were able to create over course of the two days.

It was nice to work with a group of people who are very passionate about the work they do, the GLA staff were helpful, friendly and polite at every stage. Opening up your work place to a group of “hackers” can sound a bit risky but all of the developers/designers brought in by Rewired State soon proved their worth. Tearing through .xls spreadsheets that were too big in some cases to be opened by some software/hardware combinations, the hackers were able to look at the data with a fresh approach, not only to its use but also its possible future collection.

For the event I put one forward one hack on my own and one with Josh Pickett  @lordjawsh on Twitter.

Tree-o-pets

Tree-o-pets was a mobile phone app which allowed users to plant virtual trees using GPS and Augmented Reality. The premise is a simple one you take your phone to a place you want to plant a tree, plant it and return to care for it, you could also share your plants location via Facebook and Twitter. You had to take care of your tree as anyone logging on to the webpage or in to the app could see it’s owner and how well you care for it. The initial data was based on where Mayor Boris Johnson plans to plant his future trees.

Your Journey

I wanted to create a way to explain and to get people to engage with the data the GLA have on various environmental topics.

Your Journey was a 90 second video game on the iPhone which provided as snapshot of the postcode you gave it.

As “Boris” you cycle through the city, collecting rubbish, avoiding potholes and caring for the specially planted “Boris Trees”. The data from the GLA was used to piece together how many trees and how many recycling bins you saw in you 90 second journey. The clouds were coloured and calculated by the air quality data, notable public buildings which the GLA had power consumption date on were also pointed out to you on your journey.

It was lovely to take part it, was also nice to win an award for “Your Journey” for “Most Innovative Use of Environmental Data”. There were some excellent other projects with “100ktrees.com” coming up top trumps literally in the overall best prize. “Got Wood?” was also great social app helping you locate your nearest tree and “check in”. It was a long two days for me commuting from Ipswich and working til very late but it was worth it.

Well done Adam McGreggor @adamamyl and Emma Mulqueeny @hubmum for organising another great and successful event and well done for GLA for taking those bold first steps to opening up the vast amounts of data they have. There were some interesting and useful points very raised by the “hackers” which will hopefully benefit GLA further in their future work.

It was also very nice to work at City Hall.