Review of Switzerland’s First Open Data Camp

After a lot has been discussed about Swiss open data at the Conference in June, Hannes Gassert, Oleg Lavrovsky, and I felt the time was ripe to bring designers, developers and ideators together to actually build something. We initiated a national two-day hackathon with the name, which was took place simultaneously in Zürich and Lausanne on September 30 and October 1 2011. We expected around 30 participants at each location, but were blown away by the response, and in the end over 100 people showed up.

Photos by Frederic Jacobs

Open data is still a fairly fresh topic in Switzerland, and data sources weren’t abundant, but we received a lot of support from both host cities. Lausanne provided data about its buildings and their energy consumption, and thanks to the eZürich initiative, we had access to data sets Zürich has just recently published, including the city’s most recent investment statement.

What Was Made

During the two days we not only had some great inputs from experts and data providers and the opportunity to meet likeminded people, but – in the spirit of the event’s name – the participants made some terrific open data applications:

Where Did My Taxes Go?

Inspired by Where Does My Money Go?, this application calculates where tax money of individual Zürich residents went in 2010. As a special twist, it tells you how long the city could run on your contribution (you’d have to earn quite well to get it over a minute).

What Do Parliamentarians Talk About?

This application visualizes which words Swiss parliamentarians used in their motions. It takes into account data which goes back as far as 1995, so it should show accurately who’s interested in which topics. As elections are just around the corner, it’s a perfectly timed and useful (and sometimes quite hilarious) tool.

Mashing Up Swiss Stats

SwissMap enables you to mash up and compare various statistics of Switzerland. You select data sets via drag and drop, and positively correlated data (at least I guess that’s what it is – there’s no legend, ahem) gets highlighted on a map divided by cantons.

Swiss Army Contaminated Sites

Of course we from Interactive Things also made an application! We mapped a data set of over 1500 sites owned by the Swiss army to show the contamination level for each location and on a county level. Did you know the army sank ammunition in a few of our lakes?

There are many more projects covering topics like transportation, hiking maps, political party support, energy use, and water temperature. Efforts were also made in building open data repositories and licensing. All projects are documented in the wiki.

A Step Forward

From an organizer’s perspective, I think has been a great success. The amount and quality of the projects is impressing, and more importantly, many creative people who care about open data have been able to connect and build something together. Switzerland’s open data movement definitely has made a step forward, a step whose importance can not be overestimated.

And as a participant it just has been so much fun to work in such a spirited environment.

Many, many thanks to everyone who has helped to make this happen, and to everyone who has participated. You have been awesome. See you at the next!

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