Open Data Day 2018 – Vancouver Hackathon Recap

This year marks the seventh annual Open Data Day. This year’s day had 406 registered events around the world.

Open Data Day is an internationally organized event to promote awareness and use of open data around the world. This year the non-profit, Open Data British Columbia (OpenDataBC), partnered with Data BC in Vancouver on Saturday, March 3rd around four key challenges:

  • Opioid Overdose Crisis, Harm Reduction and Mental Health
  • Affordable Housing and Rising Racism in our Communities
  • Helping governments do more with less
  • Wild card Challenge

More than 50 people attended the Vancouver event and were divided into six teams. The event provided an opportunity for people to come together and find ways to build applications using open data. The excitement to create and make a difference at Vancouver Open Data Day (#VODDAY) was inspiring. The event offered a space for teams to work together, combine ideas with data to make B.C. and beyond better. Leo Lou and David Kelsey gave a presentation on discovering and accessing B.C. government data assets via the BC Data Catalogue.

Highlights of the Day:

  • A past Open Data Day hackathon team shared their story of competing and the benefits they received post the event, even though they were not a finalist. A few months after they were invited to share their ideas at the White House.
  • The excellent workspace provided by Later facilitated sharing, collaboration and learning throughout the day.
  • Mentors from DataBC, City of Surrey, City of Vancouver, and OpenDataBC were available throughout the day to listen and guide the various teams. Participants were encouraged to connect with mentors after the day to continue work on their projects.
  • There was participation from different demographics including students, corporate and small business developers, federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as OpenDataBC Society staff.
  • Excellent feedback and suggestions were received for new datasets and presentation services.
  • Six different projects were pursued during the day:
    • Tim Tam Translink Slam: Problem: During the Burrard Bridge project, participant wondered where his bus was. Solution: create visualizations showing where buses were at all times.
    • I need my Meds: Problem: Suppliers are unpredictable when satisfying orders for a set of about 20 critical mental health drugs. One pharmacy may not have a required drug, but another competitor may. The well being of a person in dire need is more important than making a sale. Solution is to crowdsource data using web app.
    • Oceanview: Problem: Difficult to find sexual health clinics. Example: Google a sexual health clinic and the search result will have multiple results with different names, same addresses and negative reviews of the clinic. Solution: get a list of clinics, share if the clinic is open, distance and rate using pre-set tags rather than stars. Tags relate to issues that policy makers would like data on.
    • LifestyleR: Problem: How can we help people find a place to live to give them the lifestyle they want. Solution: enter an address into a search app and it tells you the rental price, the amenities in the neighborhood and a place that has similar amenities to the original address.
    • Team Oden: Problem: Opioid Deaths. Solution: Made an app called “Help Needed”, inspired by the fentanyl deaths in BC. Users can use their smart phone as a medical alert system. Can connect to help, or someone who sees a person in distress can use the app to get help.
    • Team Pathfinder: Problem: Supports for people new to a community. Solution: App is called MadeIt. The app will show you things in your area of interest. An example would be local events.

Team challenge winners:

  • Opioid Overdose Crisis, Harm Reduction and Mental Health: Oceanview
  • Affordable Housing: LifestyleR
  • Helping Governments Do More with Less: Tim Tam (Transit) Slam

Wild Card Team Winners:

  • I need my Meds: Pathfinder

Thanks to the Open Data BC Society for putting together another wonderful event. The DataBC team was impressed with the many ideas and hard work by the participants. There are infinite new ways open data can be helpful in finding innovative solutions to the challenges we face and #VODDAY is a wonderful incubator for new ideas.