Calling all open data fans: CODE 2015 kicks off

Picture 5
Carlos Saavedra looked at his parents for inspiration during a national open data competition.

With friend Jason Ernst, they created newRoots, an app helping immigrants — before they’ve arrived in Canada – determine which city to settle in based on their background and credentials by “looking at unemployment rates, looking at labour industries, cultural group populations, and really determining the probability of you being successful in different cities across Canada,” said Saavedra, 27.

The Kitchener-Waterloo resident said his parents hail from Poland and Ecuador.

Now he’s taking the application to the next level, “connecting you to other service providers as well … YMCAs and United Ways, immigration consultants, immigration lawyers,” said Saavedra.

The 2.0 version is called Imminy.

newRoots took the top prize, voted fan favourite, at the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) last March.

The app is just one of the creative possibilities using open data.

Treasury Board president Tony Clement kicked off the 2015 CODE competition during a press conference at the Chateau Laurier Monday.

“Open government, at its heart, is about giving Canadians more access to information,” said Clement.

The 48-hour coding sprint draws teams to build the best app using data from the feds’ open data portal.

The competition has the potential to improve lives and drive change, added Clement.

Roughly 931 people took part in the 2014 hackathon.

“It was so exciting,” said Clement.

Subject matter is divided into three categories: Youth, commerce, and quality of life.

Participants aren’t limited to federal data, Clement said, noting it can be combined with provincial and municipal data.

Last year, the second place app went to a submission titled A Healthier Commute, giving users personalized feedback about the costs of their daily commute.

Third place went to A Deep Breath, an app collecting and analyzing toxic emissions and comparing results among cities using Environment Canada data.

“I’m a big, big believer in hackathons,” said Ray Sharma, founder of Toronto-based XMG Studio, a critically acclaimed gaming developer.

Sharma said last year’s event had a shortage of women — something he’d like to see change, given females are rabid consumers of video games.

The CODE competition takes place Feb. 20 to 22.

Visit open.canada.ca for more information.

Twitter: @kellyroche6

CODE 2014 Quick Facts:

-931 participants
-290 teams
-111 open data apps
-2 apps have been acquired or submitted to market
Source: CODE

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