Tech City UK Blog

LONDON, 17 February 2014: Volunteers from across the tech community came together yesterday – Sunday – for a hackathon in support of those affected by the flooding.

Following an emergency meeting at 10 Downing Street on Friday, more than 200 developers signed up in 24 hours and joined forces at Google Campus to devise digital solutions to aid communities hit by the recent severe weather and floods.

The day-long #floodhack, hosted by Tech City UK, opened the Government’s flood level data from Government Data Services and the Environmental Agency to individuals as well as developers and engineers from Google, Facebook, Conversocial, Twitter, Microsoft, Datasift, Twilio, Nominet Trust, TechHub, skhub, Shoothill, SessionDigital and Inviqa.  

The event culminated with pitches from sixteen teams who were each allocated two minutes to present their hack to a Cabinet Office judging panel. After hearing the presentations, the panel selected a shortlist of the most useful applications demoed. The chosen apps are:

Don’t Panic – a system that allows people with and without web access to request and receive help, ranging from the delivery of materials, to local information. The system will record data for future analysis and real time response planning.

UKFloodAlerts – an alert system that allows people to select a predefined specific alert, such as power loss, a burst river bank, flooded roads/paths etc., with those in the local area being instantly alerted by app or SMS.
Flood Feeder – an aggregation tool that visually presents a feed of flood (and related) data, such as geographic granularity, warnings, alerts, mobile phone mast locations and transport routes.

FludBud – using Twitter to spread the word about floodvolunteers.co.uk; locating Twitter users near flood affected areas and tweeting them information about floodvolunteers.co.uk and potential volunteers in the vicinity.

ViziCities – a tool that visualises flood levels in 3D using the ViziCities platform.

Who do I call when I have a power cut? – a service that lets people look up their Distribution Network Operator (DNO) based on their postcode, connecting them with the right people when their power is cut.

Citizen Flood Journalism – a service that located people tweeting from flood-affected areas and messages them to request photographs and descriptions which are then compiled into a geo-linked feed of flood-related information.

MyState – a service that allows people at risk of flooding to register themselves and their state using their phone to access the best information to help themselves and request help from others. They can also opt-in to receive warnings for their location should conditions in their environment escalate.

The full list can be found here: https://hackpad.com/UK-Flood-Help-February-2014-QFpKPE5Wy6s

Joanna Shields, Tech City UK chairman who led the initiative said: “The UK is suffering the worst flooding seen in our lifetime, and as those living in affected areas confront the consequences, it is vital that they have relevant and real time information. In a meeting on Friday convened at No. 10 Downing Street government called on the tech community to best use its wealth of flood data and the response we’ve seen from developers has been fantastic. Over the course of the weekend we had hundreds of people volunteer their time to produce genuinely innovative apps that are testament to the creativity, imagination and generosity of our local tech community and demonstrates the power of government opening up data.”

Joshua March, co-founder and CEO of Conversocial who helped organise the hackathon said: “The hackathon shows the power of the open data movement. By opening up the flood data to third party developers, powerful tools have been created that have the potential to help thousands of people – in a matter of days. It’s been amazing to see what can happen when the government works hand in hand with the UK tech community. Everyone – big companies, public sector, start-ups – rallied together and gave up their weekends to try and make a difference.”

ENDS

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