The clever developers and coders of the world don’t usually get invited to play around with official data – and even less often would this be linked with energy efficiency.
That all changed a few days ago, as data-loving optimists Rewired State (slogan: ‘Coding a Better Country’) asked fellow enthusiasts to join them at the Government Digital Service, along with DECC, DEFRA and ourselves for National Hack the Government Day. All above-board – not the kind of thing stereotypically associated with the word hacking.
On top of the juicy data from government, we chucked in some of the raw data on gas-heated three-bed semis that we use for advice on our website. The idea was to take it all and design whizzy things like apps, software and even games that engage people in making a sustainable difference.
There was an endless supply of caffeine and prizes up for grabs for those taking part – the main one offering a chance to work with government to actually develop the thing for real.
There was certainly some talent packed into the room – people who could take a job lot of stats and make a practically web-ready tool in six hours. From ultimately what was a limited data set sprung a myriad of different takes on it: from wind-assisted cycling guidance to a rather brilliant concept of group-buying insulation for your gran, this was speed innovation with wit and invention.
But who’s getting to build on what they started? That would be ‘Happy House’, who cooked up a natty tool to help home-buyers find an energy efficient place in their area, scooping the DECC Challenge Prize.
Who’s to say where DECC’s favourite concept of the day goes from here – but the potential is certainly there to push energy use firmly into the buyer’s mind-set. Making energy efficiency into real running costs and putting it side-by-side with a mortgage calculator could prove a real eye-opener, for sure.
You can check out all the digital winners, runners and riders here.