Hack-ney-thon: 24 Hours To Hack The Council Better

Hack-ney-thon -> Threads
24 Hours To Hack The Council

15 November & 16 November
Trampery Publicis Drugstore, Old Street Roundabout

More info + RSVP

We are asking for suggestions in advance of the event but here are a few ideas that the council have picked out (you can make suggestions by emailing hello at minibarlabs.com:

1.Wedding Community Site – ‘Getting Hitched in Hackney’

There are currently no external communications for council wedding services and all information is relayed via individual emails through enquiries. Hackney Council’s Registrars (Births, Marriages, Deaths and Nationality) department would like to find a way to make their wealth of knowledge publicly available and at the same time create a space for venue listings, for local businesses to advertise services and for couples to share tips and rate their experiences.

Examples of external communications from other councils would be brochures or static areas within the council’s main website. However the idea here would be to encourage more participation and communicate the excitement felt by couples approaching the Big Day. The aim would be to make interacting with the council service fun and the branding of the portal would be community and couple focused. This would be independent from the main hackney.gov.uk site, something in the vein of Mumsnet or TripAdvisor where the council staff can have a voice amongst other local people. In terms of functionality the portal could include features like a forum, venue listings, venue and service mapping and user rating, advertising space and importantly a connection to the council’s venue booking system (as described above).


  1. 2. Booking system

Hackney Council’s Registrars (Births, Marriages, Deaths and Nationality) department provide a wide range of services, however only a selection of these are currently made available for public booking online – making appointment to register births and deaths. All other bookings are booked through telephone and email enquiries. This is a disjointed process which takes up council staff time and due to the spike in enquiries over the weekend, loses potential clients as response rates are slower. Hackney Council would like you to come up with a way for couples to make appointments to view as well as book and pay for the wedding venue of their choice. This would free up staff time and save money at both ends of the process for the council.






Commercial Property Services
Booking Process for Viewing and Applications
Email Management System

Commercial Property Services


  1. Booking Process for Viewing and Applications Email Management System


The Council has a commercial portfolio of well in excess of 300 properties, a large proportion of which are retail units. There is a relatively high turnover and typically there will be 5 – 10 units available for rent. The Council aims to have as close to 100% occupancy as possible.


The Commercial Estates team receives a high volume of enquiries for commercial property, which are managed through an online form and over the phone. However, the system still requires a fair amount of manual processing, which is costs time and can also permit human error. The team needs you to help them smooth out the online enquiries process and in addition to this ensure that the list of would-be tenants is shaped and more easily called upon through an email management system for future marketing purposes.


The online form can be viewed here: hackney.gov.uk/property. The issue lies in what happens after the form is filled out, as once submitted all data is transferred into a spreadsheet, which then requires manual processing for future mailshots.


The team needs:

  • – a central hub to gather and collate both mail and telephone enquiries as well as connect this to an email management system a way to more accurately categorise the user’s request (through the selection of additional criteria on the enquiry form perhaps) as council staff currently have to search through each individual email.
  • – a prompt to next action on the form such as booking a viewing.
  • – an online application form to rent a property – currently this has to be printed out and provided in hard copy


After submission:

  • the user should get an automated mail that acknowledges their enquiry.
  • the user should be tagged and added to the relevant email list

Ideally we would like to end up in a position where if we have a 1000sqft shop to let at £15,000pa, we can insert these details into a program that will automatically email all enquirers with matching criteria.

Open Thread

Hack-ney-thon will be an exciting opportunity for developers to access a large number of datasets gathered and maintained by the ICT department on activities across the whole council. This is an open thread where we invite developers to investigate and experiment with material, seeing what insights can be revealed through manipulation and what innovative new tools can be produced. In advance of the day the department will make a number of these sets available via GitHub and provide descriptions of some insights into its use and potential application.

Interactive Mapping
One area of focus in the department is in mapping the local area. They is committed to meet the specifications of the EU’s INSPIRE Directive (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community – http://inspire.ec.europa.eu/). Through their work they have developed several tools such as; Map.Hackney2.0; MapGallery; Plan Web and the resident facing Find My Nearest (http://www.map.hackney.gov.uk/Find-My-Nearest/) – an interactive mapping tool using council, OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey data. This area could be of interest to developers working in data visualisation or those wanting to investigate big datasets.