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DfTHacks



I'm just back from a hectic weekend, supporting Hack Partners deliver the #DfTHacks event on behalf of the Department for Transport. Having created interest in Hackathons as a valuable way to introduce and explore tech opportunities in the rail industry, the data science team at the DfT have been working with Hack Partners to create and run a DfT Hackathon, based around the HackTrain format.
This inaugural event launched last Friday and ran until Sunday evening, with 60 developers, designers and entrepreneurs working to solve critical challenges set by the DfT and partners from across the field of transport in the UK and beyond.

12 teams battled it out over the following 48 hours to come up with working prototypes and proposals for rolling them out. As ever with Hack Partners events, I was impressed by the quality and drive of the participants as we coached them through the weekend. There was some seriously good solutions created, ranging from data visualisation of world-wide shipping movements, overlaid with weather and other information layers in a very interactive and useable format, to end-to-end multi-modals travel booking solutions that piggy backed onto existing flight booking systems.
The overall winner was "Query" who created a very fine data interrogation and visuality system to allow people to search and analyse the data from the National Transport Survey using natural language questioning. This meant you could type in a question in your usual language and the interface would use that to support you building you question by suggesting potential options and specifics to ask. The data interface was also beautifully responsive and easy to view and interpret.
 
DfTHacks Winners
Many of the teams are discussing their prototypes and development ideas with the challenge sponsors this week to looks at how they develop their tech further and move to testing it in real world settings. Keep an eye on the gov.uk website for the Query tool in the near future!
DfTHacks was another example of how a well planned and well executed Hack event can deliver real and tangible results. Bring on the next one!



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