Hack-ney-thon Hacks


Hack-ney-thon 2014

More than the sum of our parts


FIRST PRIZE Fix Hackney Moreno Bonaventura, Shavin Fonseka, Jacopo Hirschstein and Viktor Zyakhor

SECOND PRIZE Planning PermiSMSion Phil Nash (Twilio)

THIRD PRIZE The Italian Job Alessio Gottardo and Vittorio Delsignore

Special Mention also goes to Dalton Scott and his mum Roslyn for their hack Hack Prop

To set the scene a little, it could be said that a hack is somewhat determined (however loosely) by its elements – much like the ingredients of your favourite recipe. Last weekend in a large room overlooking a busy Old Street we gathered together a myriad of ‘things’; planning data, food, a remote survey group, wiki enthusiasts, front end developers, business consultants, staff with an extra special interest in mapping visualisation tools etc. Over two days these bits and bobs were worked together and out of this came 8 great hacks and hopefully a few laughs.

Below is a breakdown of each team and their hack in no particular order..


Hackney Properties

Team: Jamie Copeland, Raim Koo, Mazin Power and Alberto Rizzoli

The hack enabled a space in which council staff could work with teams and really scrutinise the processes behind particular council services. Discussions early in the weekend brought user experience to the fore and through hacks participants sought to find new ways for local residents to engage with the council online.

In our first hack the team focused on the task of how local residents can search for council commercial lets. Using OnePulse services the team discovered that ⅔ of those surveyed didn’t know that they could enquire direct to the council for lets in their area and the majority were keen to access this information online rather than via telephone. With this knowledge the team built a clean and intuitive graphic user interface that allowed a snapshot overview of available properties. Users could then drill down and filter results or find detailed info on each property. Then if no matches were found users could also sign up to be notified via push notifications in facebook, email or text using Twilio. Special mention goes to Jamie for learning MongoDB from scratch and working through the night, presenting to our panel of judges with only 1 hour of sleep!

Hackney Properties screenshot
Hackney Properties screenshot


The Italian Job **3rd PRIZE**

Team: Alessio Gottardo and Vittorio Delsignore

This was a hack to simplify the process when booking an appointment at the local office to register a new birth. The current process can be found here: http://myhackney.hackney.gov.uk/tkflow_web/Flow.aspx?f=RegistrarsBirthsWeb.kdt&FormAuth=True. With council staff the team (both software developers) assessed the flow of questioning/information gathering in the form and restructured it along with a plugin of both BookingBug and Twilio. Users can go through, book a time slot and once actioned will get a confirmation via text of their appointment.


Planning PermiSMSion **2nd PRIZE**

Team: Phil Nash (Twilio)


Prompted by Christian Ahlert (MiniBarLabs CEO and local homeowner) Phil developed a hack to notify interested parties of new planning applications (and potentially licensing). Currently communications to individuals around planning are conducted via the post. Letters are necessary because they satisfy the majority of residents (particularly those without online access) however Phil wanted to see if there was an elegant, contemporary way of communicating alongside this. Therefore he built an interface that allows users to sign up and choose to receive updates on planning permission applications in their area by SMS or email. For this Phil, a Twilio evangelist, used his company’s services. Through this residents can subscribe to a thread to track the application, find out when a meeting is and potentially make comments on live applications online.

Planning PermiSMSion Screenshot
Planning PermiSMSion Screenshot


Hackney Treasures

Team: Cybersalon – Fako Berkers, Sophia Drakopulou, Niki Gomez, Filip Janczak, James Moulding, Eva Pascoe, Simon Sarginson



The team from Cybersalon took a different approach to the hack, deciding to work on a tool to map notable local residents. Introducing their hack, the team described how through their tool ‘Hackney Treasures’ they wanted to celebrate the work of local residents and remind people of all the creative and interesting minds that live among us. The main interface is a smartphone app drawing on wiki data assigned with Hackney borough geolocation tags. As users walk around the app traces their steps and provides them with wiki quotes and tidbits on the lives of local residents and their connection to Hackney.

Screenshot 2014-11-16 13.29.43
Hackney Treasures screenshot

Fix Hackney **WINNERS**

Team: Moreno Bonaventura, Shavin Fonseka, Jacopo Hirschstein and Viktor Zyakhor


The Hack-ney-thon winners produced a dashboarding hack to gather and visualise issue reporting by ward across Hackney ie: broken street lights, fly-tipping, noise etc. To collate the information the backend enables the centralisation of reports as they come through on a range of feeds via social media, mails, calls and texts etc. Each report can be viewed on the map enabled by OpenStreetMap with supplementary data such as description, picture, previous reports, comments etc. Then through the Fix Hackney interface users can synthesize and relate data per ward. Data can be tracked over time and council performance can be assessed in analysing things like cost vs response rate. This clean way to interact with and digest information can potentially help the council to plan resources and budget in the future.

Fix Hackney screenshot
Fix Hackney screenshot


Hack Prop

Team: Dalton Scott and Roslyn Scott


Hack Prop sees our youngest participant – Dalton – and his mum Roslyn work on a web application that looks to reduce the amount of phone calls into the council switchboard relating to booking viewing appointments for council lets. Using both Twilio and BookingBug they have refined the current from found here: hackney.gov.uk/property into 14 short steps. In addition potential tenants can view a 360degree view of each property.

Dalton presenting the hack
Dalton presenting the hack

Hackney Hero

Team: Abdul Hassan and Hannah Dalgleish 

Hackney Hero is also based on issue reporting but concerns itself with an earlier stage in the process to Fix Hackney.

To begin with the team recognised how cumbersome it could be to report an issue via the appropriate area on hackney.gov.uk, stating that it may be over complicated and that it could dissuade users from completing their report. It’s important to acknowledge the effort of residents in helping to look after the borough, taking time out (albeit short) to contact the council and describe the issue or provide feedback. The team conducted a OnePulse survey and found that although the majority would be willing to report an issue they were unclear as to how or were short of time. The team focused on reporting issues via smartphones while out and about in the borough. Through the interface users complete a number of quick questions using dropdown menus and have the chance to upload a photo directly. All this information is then gathered in a database and can be searched by council staff by category/issue/date.


Mash the Web

Team: Hon Guin Lee

Hon built a responsive web app that allows users to see all the statutory planning permissions in Hackney borough. Users can then drill down an view individual notices and related committee notes.

The app is based on HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Google Maps, MapBox, and the power of the app runs on google fusion tables on https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=1n52DcnloY6QWovNACnCCsapKjQh2X-zq36IJ2n71. This enables a single point of update to link locations and documents together.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in Hack-ney-thon, especially to participants for giving up their weekend to join us. Hackney council is committed to adopt working solutions and each one of the hacks developed will be presented to senior staff at a special meeting on 25 November 2014.

Judging panel

  • Christian Ahlert, MiniBarLabs
  • Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech City
  • Sophie Higgins, Special Projects Officer, Hackney Council
  • Andrew Sissons, Head of Regeneration Delivery, Hackney Council
  • Anthony Truffour, GIS Technical Manager, Hackney Council
  • Duncan Ray, Shoreditch Town Centre Manager, Hackney Council

Criteria; usefulness, technical sophistication, cost reduction, social/public impact and creativity


Delivery Partners: Hackney CouncilPublicis DrugstorePokeThe Trampery Old Street

Tech Partners: Bare ConductiveBookingbugEstimoteMongo DBOnePulseTechnology Will Save UsTwilioWhat3words,

Outreach Partners: TechCity UK