Federal Government’s #CODE2014 is Officially Underway


The first national Open Data hackathon in Canada, The Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) is officially underway in Toronto (and the web). It’s a 48-hour competition hosted by XMG, one of the largest indie mobile gaming studios in Canada, and supported by the Government of Canada.

The hackathon ends on Sunday.

Canadian post-secondary students, entrepreneurs and innovators will be develop applications utilizing federal government data from the Canadian Open Data Portal (www.data.gc.ca) with the goal of improving the lives of Canadians. The applications will need to conform to a theme that will be announced minutes before the appathon begins and then: ready, set, develop! 48 hours of hardcore coding!

The teams that submitted the top 15 applications (as judged by a review panel) will be invited to the CODE Grand Finale event on March 28th 2014, where they will pitch their apps during a live judging event to a panel of industry experts and potential investors. The goal is to connect the young entrepreneurs directly to investment firms and venture capitalists to ensure their apps (or ideas) are brought to market.

100 coders are participating at Toronto’s OneEleven VIP HUB, while others have logged into one of CODE’s many satellite hubs.

In a Huffington Post article, Neil Seeman said “Open data has as its mission a twin goal: to not only enable disenfranchised citizen researchers to legally reuse and redistribute the data, but also to enable researchers to access that data in easily manipulated file formats for analysis…Data absolutists champion a kind of virtuous feedback loop. First, the analysis and ‘mash ups’ of these data sets offer social and commercial value to all citizens. Second, increased awareness of this value leads to improved participation and engagement by citizens”

Various hubs are also offering space for participants to join each other as they code, such as the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus. Buses brought participants to the campus from Waterloo today.

One team of participants is planning on using the data from the federal government’s open data repository to create an app that is triggered whenever there’s an earthquake in Canada. “It’ll alert the user when an earthquake happens, and will include information like how far away it happened, and maybe even a “did you feel it” type of social engagement feature,” said Ryan Doherty, a PhD candidate in medical biophysics at University of Toronto & cofounder of iamsick.ca. “Our team met through the competition’s website, looked at the data that is available, and decided this would be a fun app to build over the course of the weekend.”

Joining him will be Woohee Lee and Monica Li, both 3rd Year computer science students at the University of Toronto, and Mahshid Yassaei, a computer Science graduate from McGill.

Doherty also tipped us off to “The Hack Goes On”, a community-focused series of follow-up events run by the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto. The first one will begin tomorrow, with following events on Saturday March 22, Saturday April 26 and a final larger event. “There’s nothing more disheartening than spending a few days working on a problem only to see it all go to waste,” wrote the organizers. “That’s why we will be organizing follow-up events that will lead to a ‘Big Reveal’.”