A report on Leeds Hacks & Hackers


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from GeekUp Leeds, November

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A report on Leeds Hacks & Hackers

  1. 1. Hacks and Hackers A report on the collaboration of news press and practitioners of computational science Authored and presented by Jonathan Powell
  2. 2. Reporters of the press They are gifted with a keen desire to inform the populace of ● Political wrangling ● Scandal ● Conflict both local and international ● Happenings of note ● Advice and new avenues of thought
  3. 3. Computational experts Such experts are often occupied with “vanity projects” Perhaps collaboration may put their skills to better use?
  4. 4. The wealth of information Any significant endeavour produces information Take, for example: ● Maintenance of highways ● Postal services ● Election and voting procedures
  5. 5. Gathering of information Governments are morally obliged to dispense all information gathered at public expense.
  6. 6. Introducing “Scraperwiki” A 'scraper' automates the gathering of information into a usable form. A 'wiki' (the Hawaiian word for 'fast') is a platform for collecting and presenting information.
  7. 7. Hacks and Hackers met on Thursday 28th October 2010 A report of the collaborations that took place therein.
  8. 8. Example (1): A planning map for Leeds Gathering information from the council departments of Leeds to identify the whereabouts and statuses of all planning applications.
  9. 9. Example (1): A planning map for Leeds (cont.) Knowing the location of planning applications provide a glimpse of development and regeneration across the city.
  10. 10. Example (2): Find me A technical application to provide transport and road work information to a person in unfamiliar territory.
  11. 11. Example (2): Find me (cont.) Fig. 1:
  12. 12. Example (3): Leeds Uncut Plotting the eight parliamentary constituencies in Leeds, and identifying their susceptibility to financial reductions in government spending.
  13. 13. Example (3): Leeds Uncut (cont.) The outcome told a familiar story; the affluent regions may weather the recession, yet the poorest will be hit with increased unemployment and failing services.
  14. 14. Example (4): “Leeds Pulse” Identifying the emotive reaction of the people of Leeds to newsworthy events.
  15. 15. Example (4): “Leeds Pulse” (cont.) Combining editorial oversight with automatic content is a growing trend; to undertake this at a local level presented interesting challenges. (disclaimer: I myself was involved in this project)
  16. 16. Example (5): Brownfield Regeneration When industrial complexes fall into disuse, what happens to the land? This project sought to answer this question for sites in and about the city of Leeds.
  17. 17. Example (5): Brownfield Regeneration (cont.) By amalgamating information from disparate sources, a story was told of; ● Housing ● Ill health ● Abandonment
  18. 18. Similar undertakings elsewhere in the UK ● Manchester ● London ● Liverpool ● Lichfield ● Birmingham ● Dublin
  19. 19. In conclusion The actions of those who collaborate have brought to light stories which may have been left untold.
  20. 20. It is my great hope to see similar activities bring forth deeper understanding of our locality and, perhaps inevitably, lead to improved governance. - Jonathan Powell