National Hack the Government Day 2011

Posted by john on March 28, 2011

Well, here we all are, back at work after a weekend that saw hundreds of thousands March for the Alternative through central London. A bit further north, around one hundred developers ascended to decended on gathered in King’s Cross (and Aberdeen University where there was a remote outpost) for National Hack the Government Day.

The Rewired State event, now in its third year, allows developers to give government a glimpse of what is possible in a day of rapid protoyping. This year’s event was sponsored by WiredUK and the TSO and, as ever, the sheer brilliance of what was built was seriously impressive, even for a hack day veteran. For those members of the audience who were new to to this, it must have been mind-blowing.

At the standing room only show & tell, 36 projects were presented/demoed. The list on our website is growing as developers recover from the weekend and post their efforts.

Julia Chandler did an impressive job of describing most of them and Steph Gray picks out a few favourites and highlights some of the issues Rewired State is facing in trying to carve out a space for government and geeks to work together.

The issue of “Beyond the hackday” was a bit of a theme for us at this our 3rd National Hack. Previously, we have seen the end of the hack day as the end of Rewired State’s involvement. This allowed other people to build businesses around the hack day — and anyway, the point is rarely the prototype, it is to show the art of the possible, that developers are not scary, that there is another way.

However, as Emma announced in the closing remarks, we are now actively working to give great ideas/protoypes a future beyond the hack day. This has come after there has been some questioning from the (now) government hack day veterans, who keep coming back, keep seeing useful prototypes and are frustrated that they are not then seeing them at work. Rewired State is not an agency and we are not going to be curating these apps ourselves in any way, however we will be bundling up the prototypes that were made and taking them to Whitehall, showing those who did not come what was made.

Should any person inside/outside government or industry wants to make something happen, then we will help those conversations happen — or not should the inventor developer not be interested in working any further.

Our inaugural step into the more commercial side of this was to invite the Technology Strategy Board to select an app that they, and Rob Carter our CFO, thought had potential to generate an income. Nabbd was selected as the winner and so will receive some seed funding and business development support.

After wrapping up the show and tell, we all packed into a pub down the road to celebrate Rewired State’s second birthday and to carry on the discussion. Many thanks to dxw for chipping in towards the “catering” bill at the party.

Many thanks to all involved, hope to see you all at #nhtg12

List of prize categories and winners:

  • Best in Show: Data Validator – Rob McKinnon — Reports on quality/availability of UK Government spending data
  • If it were my money award: Nabbd – Daniel Rendall, Dave Addey, Inigo Surguy and Mohsen Ramezanpoor – iPhone app for logging items of value and, if stolen, reporting to local police
  • Best use of justice data: CourtSquare – Andy Broomfield – Allows public to submit their own court report/sketches. Plan a visit to court/see local services/facilities etc
  • Best use of crime data: Nabbd – Daniel Rendall, Dave Addey, Inigo Surguy and Mohsen Ramezanpoor – Tool for logging items of value and, if stolen, reporting to local police
  • Best use of police data: Usefuliser – Sym Roe – Major criticism of current police data is that it doesn’t include longitude/latitude location data, Usefuliser fixed that
  • Transparency award: Scandalous – Michael Mokrysz – Publishes details of interests politicians have in industry
  • Comedy hack: Who wants to not get stabbed? – Tom Scott – Game built on top of crime rate data and Google Street View
  • Most disruptive: Find me a Region – Harry Rickards – Brings together a huge range of quality of life data to help people decide where to move
  • Evil Genius award: iSteal – Lawrence Job, Callum Lamb, Josh Pickett and Issy Long – Young Rewired Staters started playing around with crime data and inadvertantly built a toolkit for criminals. Uses police data including conviction rates to show where you are most likely to get away with a particular crime
  • Most aesthetically pleasing: London Borough Smackdown – Matt, Andrea, Meg and Maria – Top Trumps for London Boroughs
  • ITO World Transport prize:Think of the Children – Tom Hume, James Hugman – Mapping crime rate and road traffic volume/accidents to identify “safer neighbourhoods”.
  • dxw prize: Who wants to not get stabbed? – Tom Scott – Game built on top of crime rate data and Google Street View

Judging Panel:

  • Andrew Sampson – Producer
  • Mike Bracken – Director of Digital Development at Guardian News & Media
  • Richard Goodwin - TSO (The Stationary Office)
  • Rishi Saha – Number Ten
  • Dr Sue Black – Senior Research Associate, UCL (and much more Look here)
Thanks very much to our lovely sponsors:


wired supporting the third Rewired State National Hack the Government
“Every month in the magazine and every day online, Wired explores the ideas, innovations and people that are reshaping our world. In a time of increasingly rapid change and unlimited access to information, Wired determines what to look for: it is the guide to what’s to come. Wired is the only media brand whose mission is to map change — and then turn the points into a chart by which to navigate the future. Our partnership with the 3rd Annual National Hack the Government Day is an extension of that mission.”

TSO has been at the forefront of helping public sector organisations to open up their data, delivering processes that manage digital information more effectively and enable accurate, real time data publishing in re-usable formats. For details of the TSO OpenUp platform visit

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