Pan European Challenge to Build Dream Apps from Public Data
Mammoth open innovation initiative encourages people to create cutting edge ways of reusing public data for the benefit of European citizens.
Open Knowledge Foundation, United Kingdom
The Open Data Challenge was Europe’s biggest public data competition with a grand total of 20,000 Euros (approx. USD $27,000) worth of prize money up for grabs. It was organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation and the OpenForum Society, and designers, developers and ordinary citizens were asked to come up with useful concepts, ideas or applications from using public information.
It was also hoped the competition would stimulate more public bodies to open up their data files, and to encourage the reuse of data that is already out there.
An extraordinary amount of data is generated by European public bodies, everything from how taxes are spent to the number of accidents on minor roads. But hardly any of this information ever sees the light of day.
Huge Data Release
Well that is now old school, as there’s been an enormous data release across the European Union. Not every member state has taken part, but directives are being worked on that will compel those that haven't released to make more of their documents and data available to the public.
This huge open innovation data contest was held over 60 days, from early April to early June, 2011 and received hundreds of entries from participants in 24 countries. Submissions were judged by a 37-strong panel including important players in the fields of open data and open computing such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the worldwide web.
The winner of the competition’s biggest prize - a cheque for 5000 Euros (approx. USD $6,700) - for the best application based on open data was ZNasichDani from Slovakia. The Fair Play Alliance app she developed allows journalists and others to pore over government procurement contracts in her home country.
Other prizes included:
Best Idea - won by Jonas Gebhardt and colleagues from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany for their bePart idea for a mobile app. It is designed to give citizens greater knowledge about building projects in their areas and an ability to provide feedback.
Best Visualization of Government Data – awarded to Oliver O'Brien from University College London. His Bike Share Map app can help track the movements of bikes in cities in six European Union countries as well as in the USA, Norway and Japan.
It’s Only the Beginning
The competition was judged a success, and it brought together prominent people and organisations from the world of open data – from developers, NGO’s, designers, and journalists, to official projects such as data.gov.uk, and some of planet’s biggest IT companies such as IBM and Microsoft.
It illustrated the increasing importance attached to open data, as a valuable asset that can be used as the basis for improved products and services.
Organisers hope the Open Data Challenge will be the start of something bigger.
Writing in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation was under no illusion about the challenges ahead. Namely for all players, such as data journalists, civic hackers and social entrepreneurs to become a better connected and stronger community.
And the benefits of that will be “to make it easier and easier to answer increasingly sophisticated questions about the increasingly complex and increasingly difficult-to-fathom world around us, and to do lots of other clever things that we haven't thought of yet.”
Next Story »