Live blogging “Heavenly” heat at Young Rewired State 2013

I’m in the oxygen-starved theatre of Birmingham’s custard factory for the 10am heat of this year’s Young Rewired State.

Up first in the 10am Heavenly heat, one of our very own Shoreditch Works teams, “Changeable”. Malachy, Fela, Ben & Joshua.

British Weather is famously changeable, so they have made a holiday planner that deals with this: it helps you to plan your holiday and adapt what you are doing to the weather.

They showed a slick (I’m biased!) demonstration of a map-based and drag ‘n’ drop application that recommends you activities based on the weather – if it’s sunny, outdoor activities get recommended more frequently; if it’s rainy, you get museums.

Data sources: Weather Underground, National Trust data, beaches data, Google Maps – loads of sources!

They’re looking at adding user ratings as next steps.

– what’s the most difficult aspect of getting the website up and running?
– A: getting all the data APIs sorted and formatted, filtering it etc.


Things to Do
Ryan, Simon, Laurie, Dan

Helps to solve the problem of boredom. “I want to ‘watch a movie'”. Takes in to account the weather. Works over mobile – if you send “I want to” plus a search term to 01233 801221.

– Q: where are the activities coming from?
– A: it looks across what’s near to you and adjusting for factors like the weather &* time. They’d like to build in Facebook recommendations in the future
– Q: how does it determine what’s nearby?
– A: it makes use of geolocation and compares it to the locations of the activities in the database


ChowSafe – “don’t make me ill, just give me the bill”
Rhys, Patrick, Phoebe & Jack
Knoewle West Media Centre

An app to locate local restaurants by food type and show hygiene ratings. Written as an Android app using the Android SDK.

Showed a series screenshots that looked very legit. Apparently, they had some problems getting it to work outside New Zealand! And there was a Nexus simulator with a basic demo.

Showed an impressively long list of bits of technology they had learned that mentioned what challenges they’d experienced.


Money vs. People
Harry, Rhys, Edward

Puts stock prices into context. Compares popularity of products and sees the impact on companies’ stocks. Nice interface kept simple on purpose, making use of graphs of stock prices and clear presentation of tweets. The graphs show comparisons of tweeting volume as popularity against stock price.

Queries Amazon to find out who is the seller of a product you search for; then they get the stock values from a Yahoo! API; and there are a few other APIs behind the scenes.

– Q: did you have any problems getting all the APIs to talk to each other?
– A: quite a few… took a lot of time
– Q: who do you think is going to use this?
– A: small companies, analysing products; people looking into small investments; anybody who wants to see what’s influencing stocks

Personalise my Politics
Jack, Tom, Ryan
Freerange, Carlisle

Personalising politics for young people. A simple interface that presents information about your local MP, their tweets and main issues & latest news relevant to the MP. There is a neat Twillio integration where you can call a phone number and vote on an issue, with an online poll showing the results.

Issues affecting them: young people are disinterested in politics. Target audience: under 18’s – they are their own target audience!

Data from a variety of sources: Twitter API, MP data from various sources e.g. They Work For You. Learnt a lot of new technology e.g. PHP, JavaScript, CSS, HTML.

– Q: what do you think politicians would think of this site?
– A: they should like it as it gets more people involved in politics
– Q: how are you going to get people using it in the first place?
– A: the Twitter & Facebook integration helps as it will spread the word through their timelines
– Q: how to make it more attractive for under 18’s?
– A: not something we’ve thought about, that’s something for further development. But we’ve kept it really simple – all you have to do is enter your postcode
– Q: can you explain more about the phone call integration?
– A: firstly, you can call up a number and MPs can record a message you hear; also, there is a SMS poll so you can vote on issues


Gerrard, Patrick, Adam, Jamie, Chris (plus 3 more that didn’t present)

“The world – rated”. A web app that shows the best & worst across the country for education ratings, land values, download speeds, average earnings.

Used user stories (!) and personas – Eric the penguin!

They showed correlation graphs to show links between e.g. house prices and education ratings. The data is UK only at the moment, but they plan to expand to the USA & Europe. Their data come from and Data was sorted by a combination of by-hand and Python script.

– Q: how do you calculate correlation?
– A: used an Excel table and scatter graphs
– Q: how was it working in such a big group (eight people)?
– A: every day, we allocated tasks and had teams responsible for front-end and back-end
– Q: what does Eric do?
– A: Eric is our mascot penguin, he inspires us!

Jake, Mia, Katie, Georgio, Alex

The mayor of Bristol wants to plant 1000+ trees, but this team thinks there should be some democracy in where they go. They have created an app where you can put trees on a Google Map and people can vote to like or dislike the location of trees.

They are using social media to promote the application. They have 63 likes on Facebook already!

Further development would allow them to create a mobile app and a “report a tree” button to indicate when trees are in appropriate places. And they’d want a maximum number of trees per person.

They presented problems and how they got around them. These included a conflict over the use of Comic Sans…

I actually think this is a bit of a genius idea.

– Q: why does the mayor want to plant 1000+ trees?
– A: in his election promises, he said he wanted to plant a tree for every school child…
– Q: any use of open data?
– A: they were looking at putting in air quality data so you could include that in your decision about where to put your trees

University of Surrey

Web app to create scrolling explanations that can be viewed in a web browser. You start with a search term and it goes and gathers information about your term. You can then customise the output if you like.

The app is running on a Raspberry Pi server.

– Q: why have this as opposed to WikiPedia?
– A: it’s easy to edit – no wiki markup; plus it’s local to me, running off my Raspberry Pi server

Steve, Toni (and Ben, Harvey, Callum, Femi, Tom not presenting)
Opened to the GhostBusters theme, got the audience onside!
Knowle West Media Centre

An app that takes weather data (Met Office) and displays an appropriate background and plays a playlist you’ve chosen for this weather.

They learnt Eclipse, the Android development tool, as well as the Android media player classes. They created an Android UI that scales to different devices. They learnt a lot about working in a team, and that coding is hard but, more importantly, coding is fun!

– Q: was it hard to pick roles for the team? How did you do that?
– A: yes, it was hard. We split people up into data, graphics, and UI teams.
– Q: how did you get the playlist together?
– A: the app creates folders in your music, which you drop songs into; it randomly selects songs from those folders depending on the weather type?
– Q: what mood is the GhostBusters tune?
– A: we’re not really sure…

Joe, Finnbar, Liam & captain Solomon (who is 7)
Shoreditch Works

Helps you get from A to B more safely. You type your start and end point in and it gives you directions. It’s mobile optimised.

Uses Police Data to work out how much crime there is at a waypoint; waypoints provided by Google Directions. It gives you a metric for how safe a route is and compares it to other routes. It helps you to make a decision about whether to take a shortcut based on whether it is safe or not.

You can choose different transport mode e.g. biking. It tailors the “safety” assessment depending on your transport mode – if you’re in a car, you’re not likely to get mugged on the street.

Very confident pitch and smooth demo.

– Q: I’d like to be 100% safe – what is ok as a variation from 100% to get a green light?
– A: it’s up to the user – London is dangerous!
– Q: did you consider adding data about accidents?
– A: yes. And we considered looking at police tweets or TfL tweets to adjust recommendations

Chris, Harry, Peter, Tim, Hal
Knowle West Media Centre

An app to help people who are new to an area get what you need: Transport, food, the way home. Gives bus times and train times, suggests places to eat, taxi numbers. Works throughout the UK. The app looks great! Very modern design, very responsive.

Very nice presentation with great photos and transitions. Showed a video demo embedded in the presentation.

The data behind the app is not so simple. There are five main sources: NAPTAN for bus stop locations and Traveline via for bus times; train station locations from NAPTAN and live data from; taxi data collected manually from they supplemented; geolocation was a nightmare! They ended up creating their own because of hitting rate limits on Google and Bing(!); food standards data came from food standards agency hygienic and rating agency. This combines to 2.3 million lines of data. But they keep the app performant so responds to a query in under 1 second.

Where to go next? Moving from a PhoneGap app to native apps so the app would be quicker and offer more integration options.

Overall, I thought: great looking app, impressive data, and great presentation. Very good. Shame they didn’t talk about the design, as that was vey professional.

– Q: what else could you put on there?
– A: thinking cash machine data etc. but wanting to add more data once people are using it
– Q: what’s the back-end?
– A: quite an interesting one… started thinking MySQL was the way forward, but it was really slow in their previous experience. So using Parse ( which is a JavaScript-accessible database, really good as doing “get me nearest” queries (geolocation is a field type).

University of Surrey

A way to set up donation campaigns tied to local places.

Tech-wise: a single-page web app, using Leaflet.js + .draw, Cloudmade (for OpenStreetMap data), PHP+MySQL, HTML5 Geolocation, data scraped from

Heist Planner
Rami, Ben, Alexi, …

Locates the nearest banks to you and lets you target a bank for your next heist, giving you map directions to the bank. Includes a handy notes feature for storing heist-related notes.

If they’d had the time, they would have liked to use police data to choose areas with the least policeman. And show bank stocks so you can target the wealthiest banks.

– Q: you could include your data in the police data API!
– A: we take no responsibility for use of this app
– Q: have you thought about adding local shops for useful kit like hammers and shotguns
– A: …or a place to hire a van
– Q: you could put a community on this to help people find other bank-robbers
– Q: you could include live flight departures for e.g. getaway planning

Joss, Jay, Mat, John

There is a problem with finding local information that’s not boring. And information tends to be on desktop apps. They have created a way to do “digital geocaching” (or “whispers”), allowing people to leave open data that is only accessible when you get to within a certain radius.

Data used: Wikipedia, Flickr, Apple & Google’s maps. They made an iOS iPad app and a PHP back-end.

For the future: multi-platform; whispers to fade with time; more content.

– Q: could you add whispers for companies to add incentives to visit?
– A: we did think about how to commercialise this, and using company data along with the open data could be a way to fund further development
– Q: how to motivate people to whisper?
– A: add in a ramification element, similar to FourSquare – the more you whisper, the more points you get and the more you unlock.

Deborah, Omar
Shoreditch Works

An app for athletes that helps you know if someone overtakes you in the rankings. Data scraped from the Power of 10 website, which keeps track of athletes’ performance. The Power of 10 website doesn’t have an API, so this app is about making it easy to use the data and enhance it so you can e.g. compare people head-to-head.

Took 3 or 4 days to write a scraper. Didn’t know JavaScript at the time, so this was hard.

Used a framework called Ratchet to make a mobile-optimised web app. Used Twilio to send a text message to alert people when they are overtaken in the rankings.

– Q: what tech for the back-end?
– A: a scraper, a database, front-end
– Q: could you build something similar for non-professionals?
– A: the data is for everyone, it’s not just professionals

— Wrap-up —
The finalists will be announced tomorrow morning – there will be 30 finalists from the 6 heats happening today. Fingers crossed…