During the presidential elections weekend, more than 30 coders, journalists, mappers, lawyers, activists and students gathered at Activewatch headquarter for the second hackathon organized by Sponge this year.
The hackathon brings together professionals that share a common passion for technology that aim to change things and to solve problems through their ideas.
Six of the thirteen projects initially signed up were completed in the end. The complete list of the projects and the teams can be found here.
There is also available a photo gallery with the participants that can be accessed here.
After presenting each project, teams coordinated by Stefan Mako, journalist at Casa Jurnalistului, Victor Nitu from Fundația Ceata (Ceata Foundation), Marius Budileanu and Vasile Craciunescu from geo-spațial.org, Bogdan Manolea from Asociatia pentru Tehnologie si Internet (Asociation for Technology and Internet) and Bogdan Grama together with almost 30 other participants started the hackathon.
Projects like mapping all public surveillance cameras in Bucharest to see how many of them are working or are protected, creating an interactive map tracking the evolution of promises regarding building kilometers of highway in Romania, making an easy-to-use online form for sending complaints to Data Protection Authority (ANSPDCP) have been completed during the hackathon days. Furthermore, considering the context of presidential elections, one of the projects tracked candidate’s course through the country during the presidential campaign.
After a full day of hacking, Sunday at noon teams revealed the results of their projects after being posted on the Sponge platform under free license. The project of mapping public surveillance cameras was based on building a digital map of their location. Team coordinated by Stefan Mako got the data regarding their location from the local police stations. After establishing their geo-location, the data has been uploaded on a platform for visual representation with free licensed digital tool Open Data Kit. Combined with secondary data, like criminality rate and its location for example, the map can be used to see how efficient these public surveillance cameras are.
The team coordinated by Marius Budileanu documented the course of presidential candidates throughout the country during the campaign, analyzing dates, locations, cities and the source of information. One part of the project was about documenting the data regarding the TV appearances which turned out that the candidates with the most TV appearances held the lowest places in exit-polls. Collecting all this data about the presidential campaign had the main purpose of evaluating the campaign strategy to see how efficient was. Unfortunately, there was not enough data for the rural areas visited by the candidates, but most of them visited key cities in the major regions of the country.
Vasile Craciunescu from geo-spatial.org and the team he coordinated built an interactive map of political promises regarding the construction of highways in Romania. Using Quantrum Geographic Information System, an open source platform, Vasile’s team tracked the evolution of promises since 1973 to present. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure doesn’t provide data for the evolution of highways construction plan in Romania, therefore the sources used are those published in online media about this subject. Analyzing these sources, they identified two types of promises: those officially sustained by contracts and with the construction workings begun and those without any kind of fundament, just as a verbal promise.
Bogdan Manolea from ApTI worked together with his team to translate and adapt to the local needs Privacy Pack page from Reset the Net. Privacy Pack is a tool that provides solutions for data and privacy protection. Their results can be seen here.
Team coordinated by Bogdan Grama worked to improve politicalcolours.ro website and to add new data sets, more relevant.
One of the projects from Sponge hack days, that was coordinated by Victor Nitu from Fundația Ceata, started from Solena, the program behind the identity.kde.org system. This system manages user identity and makes them available for all other kde.org services and web platforms. The main goal was to create a Solena derivate. The aim was to reboot the project, which seems abandoned, add extra accessibility features and redo some bits so it would be used in more flexible scenarios outside KDE. In the end, a brand new project was discovered as a successor for Solena, named Keychain. There’s a great chance forking Solena will be abandoned in favor of future contributions to Keychain and working directly with the upstream. Victor also coordinated the Knowledge Exchange Platform project, an online gathering space for professionals and for info sharing.
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