How Hack-a-Thon winners used Toronto open data
By: Jennifer Kavur On: 22 Sep 2010 For: ComputerWorld Canada
Urban Hero and Toronto Votes 2010 are two smart phone apps that use open data sets from the City of Toronto to try to engage citizens, and winners of the Hack-a-Thon contest at Mobile Innovation Week. WITH VIDEO from the Mobile ThinkTank
Two smart phone apps, results of the Hack-a-Thon contest that took place during Mobile Innovation Week (MIW) 2010 in Toronto, show how open data sets from the City of Toronto have a lot of potential for social good.
The apps were showcased during a roundtable discussion on the ways cities can use mobile to empower citizens, part of the Mobile ThinkTank series, which included members of the City of Toronto’s open data team.
The open data staff reminded developers that city data is free for use. The only catch is that developers adhere to the city’s licence agreement, which basically asks developers to include proper attribution and not use the data for illegal purposes. The city staff also encouraged developers to let them know which data sets they want opened.
The first app demoed during the roundtable discussion was Toronto Votes 2010, an iPhone app co-developed by Gabriel Grant, winner of the Hack-a-Thon’s developer category, to promote the upcoming municipal elections to young voters. Only 24 years old himself, Grant was awarded the “young star” title.
“The ‘young star’ was Gabe because of his contributions to the open data set … out of everyone there, Gabe was the one working with the most with the city,” said Hack-a-Thon organizer Jason Silva, founder of JBBMobile Inc.
Toronto Votes 2010 uses open data sets from the City of Toronto, as well as other APIs, to provide election-related information to users, such as what ward they are located in, who their local councillors are and how to interact with them, explained Grant. “We are hoping this will help engage young people,” he said.
Grant said the app has been submitted to Apple Inc. for inclusion on The App Store and that an Android version is also in the works. He anticipates the app will become available to the public within the next couple weeks, providing enough time for residents to use it before Election Day on October 25.
In the video below, Grant and Silva discuss the Toronto Votes 2010 app in further detail with ComputerWorld Canada at the Mobile ThinkTank event.
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