Celebrating a successful train hackday

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Hack day cake

Thanks to everyone who made the inaugural Loco2 train hack day a success.

On Saturday 13th October 60 people participated in Loco2′s first train ever hackday. In collaboration with Bethnal Green Ventures, and with kind sponsorship from Rockshore and Shedcode, we held a great day of hacking at Google Campus.

Peter Hicks gave us a great overview of the different Network Rail datasets, which are delivered via Rockshore’s Event Processing Platform. And I kicked off with a short presentation introducing the hack day, and pointing to some examples of great stuff that’s been done with train data (see the last slide for links to the examples):

Aims of the day

Our aim was to bring together some of the leading lights of the UK’s open train data movement and see what could be done with some of the newly-opened rail data. The day did not disappoint, and we had a great mix of experts and enthusiastic developers new to the world of rail. Whilst the subject matter, and the data itself, can be incredibly complicated, the spirit of collaboration enabled some great things to be built.

Because we chose to run a day-long hack, rather than a full 24 or 48 hour weekend, some of the projects built on the day are still being worked on. Because of this (and because my rather amateur attempt at filming the final presentations did not work at all – sorry everyone!), we’ll be writing another blog post next week to showcase all the great results. So please watch this space!

Thanks to all attendees

We’re really grateful to everyone who took time out of their Saturday to come along and hack with us. There are far too many people to mention, but I had lots of interesting conversations. From chatting with train data experts like, Tom CairnsJonathan Raper, and Ian Shortman,  to open street mappers like Harry Wood and Shaun McDonald, as well as routing experts from CityMapper. It was also fantastic to have representatives from two Government departments come along for some of the day – the Department for Transport and the Cabinet Office – both of which are showing an active interest in using data to improve things for rail customers.

Aside from the hacking participants, massive thanks goes to Lily from the wonderful Bethnal Green Ventures, and to our very own Anila, who baked the fantastic candy freight train (pictured) which got the biggest round of applause at the end of the day.

Until next time

My lasting impression of the day is that there is lots to learn about train data and how to build software with it. Having so many informed people in a room was an incredible way to enhance collective knowledge, and to encourage collaboration with the goal of making train travel more accessible and easy for all. We’d love to run another hack day in future, and we plan to set up a mailing list for everyone who attended so that the hacking community can flourish independently of Loco2. If you’d like to be included on this mailing list please get in touch.

Thanks to Ian for the great pic!