Urban Hacks

Urban Hacks is a Hackathon bringing together over 150 students from across the GTA to use Hamilton open source city data to prototype and design solutions to major urban challenges.
#HackTheHammer #UrbanHacks2018
December 8 - December 9 2018

Urban Hacks

This was my first hack-a-thon! The organizers from Hack the Hammer and Major League Hacking did a great job of keeping everyone engaged, informed, and fed. The City Of Hamilton provided their Open Hamilton datasets and the impetus to tackle the meaningful challenges that come with urban development in our city. And the participants developed some amazing and thoughtful solutions!

After hearing the representative of the City of Hamilton speak about the City's difficulties driving social interaction, and furthermore, upon hearing the local Hamiltonian's uplifting story of the library having such a positive effect on her mental/spiritual/emotional health, we wanted to create an app that increased socialisation and interaction within the community. We wanted to ensure accessibility for those suffering from mental health problems.

The hackathon participants were given access to the City of Hamilton Open Data dataset collection and tasked with developing applications that use Hamilton's open source data to tackle issues stemming from urban development.

Our Hamilton Hub team decided to develop an application that helps people with isolation and other mental health struggles to very easily find a variety of points of interest within short walking distance of their location and to make leaving the house and getting some simple exercise and fresh air as simple as possible. The app is also quite useful for newcomers to the city, tourists, and even longterm residents to find something interesting to see and do (predominantly for free) in their immediate vicinity.

The app, entitled Step Outside, took in a geolocation from the user and served up all of the points of interest within 0.01 deg of lat/long (~1km in Hamilton) in 15+ open source datasets, as well as scraping the day's events from the City of Hamilton events page, on a Google Fusion map. The datasets included many points of interest not available on Google Maps, such as public works of art, local events, and scenic heritage properties.

Our code standardises the heterogeneous format of the city's datasets, extracts lat/long co-ordinates or geolocates street addresses, extracts basic site/event information, and generates a CSV for import to the (sadly, very shortly thereafter defunct) Google Fusion Tables API. The code identifies all entries located within 0.01 degrees of the user's supplied location and was intended to serve up all of the points of interest within that radius.

All of the Hamilton Hub team's code for the Step Outside web app can be found on Github UrbanHacks GitHub repo.

And here are the other great team efforts from that weekend!


A meeting the following week with the City of Hamilton's Chief Digital Officer!