Hacking for a Good Cause
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending #FloodHack, a hackathon at Google Campus. The event was organised by Tech City UK along with the Government and a few large tech organisations to bring together developers from all over the country to try and build applications and solutions to help those in the UK affected by the recent flooding.
Accessing Useful Data
My first task was to build some APIs to help people with their data gathering. While the government had made a concerted effort to open up data in the past few months (and even especially for the event), the primary issue was that it was often in huge data downloads or static files, which required processing and indexing to do anything with them. By using import·io I was able to quickly produce 10 APIs listed here for people on the day.
One of the most compelling of the APIs is this one, which ties in to the Environment Agency’s flood alert search, which allows anyone to search by town or river name and get a list of flood alerts relevant to that area. I used that API in combination with Twilio to create Flood Flash – send a text message to 01782435576 containing a town or river name, and get back flood alert details by reply SMS. The source code for Flood Flash is not only available on Github but very short too – thanks to the import·io and Twilio APIs, there was just a bit of data formatting to do and it was ready to send to the users.
Data for a Good Cause
All in all, it was a really enjoyable event, and I hope that we managed to produce things that will have lasting value to everyone whose lives have been affected by the weather recently and in the future.