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Young Rewired State 2011

Last week we hosted a centre for Young Rewired State. It was an epic week culminating in one of our groups winning ‘The Government Should REALLY do that’ prize and the other getting an honorable mention!

We kicked off on Monday morning with a quick presentation from me and then all introduced ourselves and our skills. In the office we have; Harry Rickards, and Damon Hayhurst,, both veterans of YRS from last year. Lewis Bryant, James Thompson and Tyler Gree, all from Oriel school in Crawley and Sean Spooner (15) and Louis Porter (15) traveling all the way down from Corby. We have also been joined most of the week by Chris Thorpe and Greg Hadfield who have been helping out with code and giving advice about open data.

After my quick presentation about what YRS is we started to brainstorm some ideas, see what data sources were available and what the guys would be interested in building. This took about 2 hours and we talked about subjects and issues such as the healthcare, the environment and engaging the yoof in local and national issues. By the end of the discussion we had a handful of ideas that got boiled down into two solid projects.

MyNHS

MyNSH is  a online service for prescription and appointment booking this web-based software generates GPG signed QR codes to take into the chemist and get your prescription. You can book a appointment with your GP. This is very good for the environment and is cost effective.

MyCouncil

MyCouncil is suite of online and mobile tools and applications which inspires transparency with local and central governments. With a cross platform approach to communications, the tools allow quick, simple and cheap question asking, and problem solving. We’ve covered SMS, Twitter and mobile applications, to ensure its simple an easy for anyone – from any walks of life.

Both apps were amazing ideas and the teams worked incredibly hard over the week, they did especially well seeing as I was knocked out on Tuesday and Wednesday with some horrible cold thing. This didn’t phase the guys though, they just got on with building the awesomes. Luckily we also had some help from many local developers and designers including Ollie Glass, Anna Debenham, Andy Hume, James Bates, Chris Leydon, Jay Gooby, James Cunningham and Ifraz and Mike from Cubeworks. I’d like to say that without their help the guys wouldn’t have been able to achieve what they did in just a week, but I don’t think that’s the case. Once these guys finish school/college, we will all be facing some serious competition for our jobs!

We were also joined by Jemima from the Guardian on Thursday afternoon, she chatted to the guys about what they were working on and what they thought about the week.

On Friday the guys polished off their presentations and we headed up to the very plush Microsoft offices in Victoria. After much panicking and some demos of clickable prototypes that Chris Thorpe had knocked up overnight (he is crazy) for the MyCouncil team, we settled down to watch all the teams from around the country present their ideas and demos. When it came to watching our teams present their ideas, I felt like a proud Dad attending his kids first school play.

The live broadcast recorded at the event is available on UStream (the Brighton teams start at around 32:00)  and there is a quick write up and summary of all the projects presented on the Guardian data blog. Some of my favorites were:

  • Food for thought, an app detailing restaurants hygiene rating from the food standards agency. (We had had a similar idea).
  • Snackanomics, breaking down really big data numbers and displaying them in more manageable representations.
  • Moodmap, mapped tweets analysed for sentiment and then mapped on a Googlemap along with data from the Indices of Deprivation to see if there was any link.

The sheer amount of creativity, intelligence and energy in all the teams was amazing. I’m sure you are sick of reading this gushing blog post by now, but it really is all true. There is a saying “the geeks shall inherit the earth”, it looks like they already have!

I certainly enjoyed the week and learnt a lot about project management, it was also great to have massive amount of energy in the office… that and the aroma of Lynx.

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