Council holds ‘hack day’, open for all

Suffolk County Council organised an open invitation ‘hack day’ (a contest in which computer programmers, software developers etc collaborate on software projects) where 60 participants, – young and old, professional and amateur – got together and created several applications, including one to provide an RSS feed from the council’s website.

"Hack day"

60 techies in Suffolk got together to create apps

The event has “created a pipeline of ideas and gives us plenty that we can work from“, said Mark Adams-Wright, the council’s chief information officer, adding that the council had opened a dedicated hotline for the submission of ideas prior to the event.

The prize for best app was won by Tom O’Brien, a 17-year-old from Woodbridge high school whose software was built to provide information about school closures during emergencies.

There were many other apps produced at the event:  a ‘find your councillor’ app, a trading standards app with a link to the mobile version of Trading Standards website; a ‘contact us’ app to help people look up key service contact information; and an app to collect and crowdsource app ideas from the community, amongst others.

Whether these apps will be practically useful or not is not clear yet, “but what it means is that we now have another mechanism by which we can talk to people in Suffolk and they can contact and talk to us,” said Adams-Wright.

He also said the council was looking into putting programming on the curriculum for local schools.

All the apps were based on Jadu’s Weejot, which allows app templates to be built using HTML5 and JavaScript. Suffolk used the government’s G-Cloud framework to purchase Weejot for £12,000/year.


Related reading