photo by Ton Zijlstra
I had the good fortune to be one of the organisers at a recent govcamp held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Continuing from where we left off last year and adding some inspiration from across the pond, we managed to host a two-tracked event.
Track 1: A Geek coding track which concentrated on creating a few sketches in code that produced improvements to public services or political transparency including a competition.
Track 2: A Barcamp on government for those who could not code. People followed their feet to whichever discussion they wished to participate in.
At the end of the day, 6 prototypes were presented of which three were awarded prizes. (You will be notified as they become usable. It’s hard to perfect a web service in 4 hours. I’ll tweet something as they get more functional. @hackdeoverheid ). Two government ministries also chimed in to offer an amazing double bonanza of money available to entries of prototypes with prize money of 25,000 Euro per ministry on offer to clever developers coming up with new ideas. You can still submit ideas here.
Gold: Afvalhuis Vuilkalender, a refuse collection service. Type in your postcode and find out when all different types of rubbish will be picked up in your neighborhood. It also syncs with i-Cal or gCal. A simple idea, which by one vote, sealed this software sketch as the top dog! Well done Menno van der Sman(@mennos) and Patrick.
Silver: OpenKvK by Steven de Koning (Renato Valdez – graphic design)which was able to scrape company information from the Kamer van Koophandel (a sort of Company House for the Netherlands) and republish it with a search input field. Usually the KVK charges you some euro cents per search query enabling spamming or direct mailing. OpenKVK allows you to do this now for free (keep reading, as I’m not saying that i support spam). The Kamer van Koophandel registers new businesses and allows for inquiries about them in the Netherlands, while offering an outreach service to support entrepreneurs. The problem they have is their business model. They are hired by the government, but are not the government. Companies in the Netherlands pay a flat fee to become a registered company, BUT they need to repay this amount every year with the only benefit being that they receive a newsletter (often unwanted) and keep their name listed on a database for another year (which obviously would not cost the amount each entity is charged just to be present on a server for a year). OpenKVK frees the company information and lets people search through listed companies. Someone suggested that the complete list of dutch companies and organizations should be submitted to a no-spam listing service so we all were saved from unwanted spam. My own personal plea is for someone to please make it so! (at this moment i can’t think of many positive uses of spam, although someone probably knows one).
Bronze: Android kenteken app. created by Ronald van der Lingen that lets you enter a car license plate number and pulls information on the car registered with that license plate back.
Honorable mentions go to:
- Polirazzi by Breyten
A customized search on politicians tracking what has been said about them across the web
- Trackchanges by Paul Vereiken
A tool for journalists to see recent changes to government documents which they can easily subscribe to
- iPhone radar by Martijn Pannevis
An iPhone app tracking weather, pollen count, air pollution and any other publically available info feeds that might affect traveling around NL.
photo by – Anne Helmond