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December 09 2010


Hacks and Hackers Dublin: Data and the Dail

[Video: courtesy of Cathal Furey]

“Dublin can be heaven, at a quarter past eleven and a stroll in Stephens Green, there’s no need to worry, there’s no need to hurry, you’re a king and the lady’s a queen…”

Onwards and downwards we headed towards Dublin, as part of our UK & Ireland Hacks & Hackers tour.

We were received as guests at the Irish Dail and given a tour of Leinster House (see left) which was useful given that our event was all about opening up Government data – thank you to Dermot Keehan (Irish Embassy London) and Patrick Rochford (Private secretary to Conor Lenihan TD).

We attended and spoke at a meeting of one of our sponsors, Dublin Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists, by kind invitation of Gerard Cunningham and enjoyed an evening and a few pints in the warm and inviting Buswell’s Hotel opposite Leinster House.

On the HHH day we journeyed through Dublin along the River Liffey to Wood Quay, a site that houses the remains of a Viking city dating back to the 12th Century and which was without doubt our most prestigious venues to date. We were there courtesy of Dublin City Council and Innovation Dublin and we received a fantastic welcome and great support from all their staff especially Maeve White and John Downey. We were also sponsored by Guardian Open Platform and developer Michael Brunton-Spall (@bruntonspall) joined us for the event.

We had a great crowd on the day itself and we were delighted with the variety and scope of the projects.

First prize was given to MonuMental. Martha Rotter (@martharotter), Jane Ruffino (@janeruffino), John Craddon (@johncraddon), Elaine Edwards (@elaineedwards), Paul Barker, Michael Brunton-Spall (@bruntonspall) David Garavin (@newgraphic) and Alison Whelan (@smartdesigns). The project aimed to expose information and the location of archaeological monuments and combine these with planning data to show the danger that exists if there is a lack of awareness on planned public works. The idea was that the project would be sustained and would help local people actively campaign for the preservation of works that were treasured by communities.

The second prize was awarded to eTenders: Follow the Money. Fergal Reid (@fergal_reid), Gavin Sheridan (@gavinsblog), Julian Todd (@goatchurch) and Conor Ryan (@Connie_Zevon). The project was designed to highlight the issues facing people trying to understand how government contracts are distributed and to show patterns and relationships between contracts, organisations and government representatives.

The third prize and much-coveted ScraperWiki mug prize went to the ‘EPA Pollution Licenses and Enforcement’ project by Richard Cyganiak (@cygri). Since 1994 the EPA has been licensing large-scale industrial and agricultural activities. The project looked at the history of the applications for these IPPC licenses and aligned these to enforcement activities. It highlighted which sectors needed most attention for enforcement orders. The data was collated by scraping the EPA’s web based IPPC database and a PDF listing enforcement activities.

Road Safety included team members Gerard Cunningham (@faduda), Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Cian Ginty (@cianginty) Mary O’Carroll, Alison Spilane (@Alison_Spillane) Trish Morgan and Victor Akujobi (@akujobi). The objective of this project was to show the number of road deaths per county and in parallel show the number of speed cameras and penalty points issued.

Twitter Mood Index, by Antonella Sassu (@misentoscossa), Marco Crosa, Victor Akujobi (@akujobi) and John Muldoon (@John__Muldoon) was a project designed to gauge the mood of Dublin people by sampling and analysing twitter feeds.

‘Fingal County Council is first to market’: We were also delighted to have Dominic Byrne from Fingal County Council who explained how he had set our HHH date as the target date for his team to launch their Open Data initiative. It was a coup for the council and a very promising first. It was great to hear him talking about the value in and the process for the publishing of government data.

A special thanks to our judges Michael Fisher (@fishbelfast), Dominic Byrne (Fingal County Council) and Michael Stubbs (Dublin City Council).

Thank you to bloggers and journalists for the additional coverage. Read more here:

Finally a huge ‘thank you’ to the Woods, the Wheatleys and the McGuires for their generous hospitality during our visit.

Oo, and must not forget the obligatory pizza pic!…

We set sail (in a gale but only force 9 this time!) after a few more pints of Guinness in O’Shea’s on the Quays where Francis and Julian declared that they were up for a sprint in the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway in 2011: I guess that must mean that we are going back next year and that we should really do a #hhhgal!

Roll on 2011!

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