News / Calgary

Calgary open data improving but still relatively nascent: ‘Hackathon’ winner

Calgary’s catalogue of open data is better than it was last year but still has a long way to go in becoming the transformative tool it could be, says a member of the winning team in the city’s inaugural “Hackathon.”

“There’s a lot of guys like me clamouring for the city to release more data,” said Jeromy Farkas. “But I think that’s only half the conversation. The other half is what we do with it once we get it.”

The “Hackathon” over the weekend was aimed at improving both those halves. It saw dozens of computer experts invited to city hall for a 48-hour marathon of delving into Calgary’s open-data catalogue to come up with innovative ways to use the info for the public good.

Farkas’ team won for the “City Alerts” platform it developed, which can be used to send push notifications to Calgarians about relevant city info they are interested in.

The event also offered a chance for the city to get advice on how it can improve its catalogue of online information, said open data strategist Walter Simbirski, while also connecting Calgary entrepreneurs and tech experts with one another for future collaborative projects using that catalogue.

“Anybody can have an idea and getting the data is one step forward into making that idea a reality,” Simbirski said. “But it takes a team and it takes a lot of hard work to make that stuff happen.”

The city aims to make the Hackathon an annual event, Simbirski added.

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