On pretty much day one of opening the Guild the first event suggestion by one of our members (Jack McConnell) was a Hackathon, back then I (Tatjana Humphries) had little knowledge or understanding of what a hackathon was or how one would go about putting one together, well what a difference a year and a half can make...
It was not long after we opened our doors that a meeting took place in our reception between myself, some of our members and representatives from the Council, it appeared that Jack and B&NES were thinking alike. The Council were keen to open up their data and share it with the local dev community with the hope that the data would be translated into workable websites and apps, following the meeting a mini steering group was created which included B&NES, The Guild + Members, other local business owners and developers, a date was also chosen for our first hack.
The first Bath:Hacked event was over a weekend in March 2014, following that we held a smaller day hack in September and again a weekend hack in November, we also held a number of data nights and curator evenings throughout the year. By the end of it we had a meetup group of 168, a website, a datastore and B&NES had also implemented an Open Data policy, Bath:Hacked is also now in the process of becoming a CiC. I think many of us though didn't understand the impact being made until last week.
Last week (Thursday 29 January) Bath:Hacked was invited along to the Chairman's Community Awards at The Guildhall, I didn't know too much about the awards prior to the evening. Once we arrived and had a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine and took to our seats along with all the other nominees and representatives of the community. To say it was an eye opening evening is something of an understatement, I had no idea at the strength of the volunteering community here in Bath, and to be honest it was daunting and slightly embarrassing to be nominated along side them.
It's true to say that Bath:Hacked is a community project, people organising and taking part are from Bath, they give their time freely they all have other jobs and roles outside of the hack, but community is at the heart of it all - it's even stated in our Mission Statement:
"Bath: Hacked is a joint council/community initiative that aims to put open data and smart thinking at the heart of the city. Our primary mission is to bring bright people and quality data together to do useful things for the community."
But you can understand that as the evening continued none of us thought we would/should win when nominated against those working in drug rehabilitation, Mencap and nursing homes. So it was a true surprise when we were announced as one of the winners of the "Innovative Community Awards" I was stunned but then I began to think about all we had achieved as a group and also how you would go about measuring the impact and benefit to the community: It is the cause, the people involved, the funds raised, time donated, publicity, or intentions? I would honestly say that since the first hacked we've had a real impact on the community - we've raised the profile of the dev. community (believe it or not but many thought they didn't exist here in Bath), we've shown that Bath and the Council are committed to Open Data, we have a datastore - which people are engaging with daily, we've opened people's minds to what hacking is...at the last hack we even got the Georgian's onside!
So if I had been asked how important Open Data was a couple of years ago and whether I thought it effected me I would probably of shrugged my shoulders and googled open data! I'm pleased to say that I'm now much more in the loop and hopefully the local community is too. Open Data has the power to change so many aspects of our daily life, from how we interact with our environment, how we research areas when looking at housing and schools, how we use local services and our relationship with local authorities too.
I don't know where Bath:Hacked will be a year and a half from now, but I know that open data will be leading the way.
If you want to find out more about Open Data make sure you come along on 21 Feb to celebrate international open data day with us, you'll get a chance to find out about data and how to make 'interesting things in Bath & North East Somerset'.
Thanks for reading - Tatjana (Hub Manager at The Guild, member of Bath:Hacked and Open Data evangelist!)