The Hack4Med hackathon: building services on open data

Virtual Trip’s long experience in designing and developing information systems and services for the public and private sector, and our research and market commitment to the “internet of things”, made us appreciate early the importance of “open data” and the possibilities they offer.

“Open data” being, as you may know, the casual name for data sources that are made available for free by the state or by private enterprises and organisations. Data that can be as trivial as the telephone directory and as elaborate as climate measurements, and that can be leveraged to built third-party services.

As the international experience shows us, when “open data” are made available, tons of services and applications soon emerge that use them in novel and innovative ways to the benefit of the public. State measurements of air pollutants per region can be used to warn people with respiratory issues to avoid certain areas. Real time air traffic data can be used to display arrivals and departures for airports of interest. Both are examples of existing mobile applications. Many a startup has been founded on open data.

Of course it’s not just about small startups — “open data” have also been leveraged in services offered by established companies. The OpenStreetMap geolocation data that power iOS’s maps is just one such recent example.

That said, the simplicity of building an application or service that leverages some data source to present it to the public in a more convenient way makes “open data” especially suited to startups and small programming teams. After all it doesn’t take lots of capital and expensive equipment to query and display some data — and sometimes that’s all it takes to build a useful application. In fact, a talented programmer or a small team can even produce something useful during a hackathon (a contest in which programmers compete in building an application in a short time, usually up to a day).

With the above in mind, Virtual Trip is a proud sponsor of the Hack4Med hackathon, a programming marathon that will take place in five different EU countries simultaneously, as part of the HOMER (Harmonizing Open data in the Mediterranean through better access and Reuse of public sector information) programme.

Hack4Med aims to produce applications (either web or mobile) that leverage open data to solve issues related to tourism, culture, energy, aggricutlure and the environment.

The hackathon will commence on the afternoon of Friday, May 16th, and finish on the night of Saturday, May 17th. In Greece, Hack4Med will take place on the premises of the Computer Science department of the University of Crete, in Voutes (Heraklion).

More information about participating on the Hack4Med hackathon is available here:
http://hack4med.homerproject.eu/crete/