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Sparks North East Hackday

Last Saturday, a dozen developers and designers were crazy enough dedicated enough to ignore the blue Toon skies to spend the day in the Ignite Loft playing with transport data at the Sparks NE hack day. Graham Grant of Tyne and Wear transport was also on hand to give out the data and information.

I teamed up with Matt Glover, Alec Berry and Dave Hudson. Together we probably made up 90% of the noise in the room (sorry). We decided to use the parking data to show patterns relating to car parking and made CarToon (thanks Paul Smith for the name).


A timelapse of a day is below:

We were very happy to get third for our efforts!

In first place equal was Peter Nielsen and Sanjeev Pratinidhi who visualised the quality of segments of road so that residents could be compelled to get change as per Fix My Street; and Alistair McDonald who used the website and Twillio to create a mobile and SMS service for checking carparks.
Joanna Montgomery won an award for visualisation with her graphing of 2011 census data relating to transport use in the area.

All up, some interesting trends came up. Graham noted that a lot of people worked with the parking data—perhaps as it was the most easy to understand—and that for the purpose of a short hack day it’s important to have easy to understand data. Alistair and teams had stories of attempting to wrangle bus datasets only to realise they couldn’t find something! While it was nice to take part in a 12 hour hackday (10am to 10pm), which isn’t as gruelling as an all-weekend one, it does allow less time to mess around with data or make mistakes.

To check out what happened on the day, see the #sparksne twitterstream or the @sparksnortheast account.

And, if in doubt: *always* try the John Dobson carpark.