Recently North Yorkshire County Council's Technology and Change department ran its first hack. What’s a hack you say? Well it’s become one of those things that I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to a lot of people over the past 6 weeks, and I still haven’t nailed it, but here goes. A hack, hackday or hackathon is basically an event that gets a bunch of interested people together to tackle a specific problem and is often a real mix of techie nerds and business folk. Why it’s called a hack? I’m not sure, probably because it’s a bit more hip and trendy than “loosely organised tech get-together”.
That aside we focussed on the flooding in Richmondshire last summer, which saw a record amount of rain fall on a relatively small area and cause quite a lot of disruption; the really interesting part of the problem was that the public were posting pictures and tweets of the impact of the floods, often with video and pictures many hours before we became aware of how and where the flooding was creating an impact. The challenge was set… how can we improve the gathering of intelligence for next time? Well we created a little video as an output of the day, that you can see below.
So after an exhausting 2 days that saw colleagues from highways, emergencies & resilience, Harrogate and Richmond council as well as a good smattering of T&C we’ve got a video, an actionable plan and demos of how we could be better next time. And as it was our first one, we’ve also got a ton of lessons to learn for the next hack to be even more successful. And that moves me nicely onto the ask – what do you think we should run a hack on next? What problem do you see all the time, or thing that could be improved if only the right people – were round the table to make it happen? Do email us with your answers, I’d love to see them.
John Kelly, Head of Data and Intelligence at North Yorkshire County Council