Phew! Well that was NHTG 2014!

Wow what a weekend, we had a great time and were blown away by the ideas and scope of what was built.

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The winners




  • GET. OUT. by Gray Marchiori-Simpson, James Bulmer and Phillip Po
  • Pathify by James Bulmer



We would love you to come to the NHTG 2014 Finale which will be taking place on Thursday 1st May from 7-9pm. There will be a chance to see the winning prototypes demoed and to meet press, government plus your NHTG peers from around the country.



  • 250 people participating 

  • 5 centres
  • The #NHTG14 hashtag got used in over 1,750 tweets

  • Over 40 projects created in just 30 hours

“This isn’t just an event where you go and have fun. This is an event with the ability to change. To start some very serious conversations. To open up data. To connect data, users and councils all for good”  – Matthew Simmons, Developer

Thanks to all those who made National Hack the Government 2014 possible



Eat up our data!

The Food Standards Agency has always had an appetite for openness – as an independent
central government department with no specific minister, openness and transparency is in
our DNA.

We’re so excited to be part of this National Hack the Government event and have a platter
of digital delights to serve up this weekend!

We know from past events, the attendees are a very talented bunch and that’s why we need
their help. If you’re attending, we would love you and others to use our food data and mesh
it with other data to provide new services for UK citizens, businesses or others.
Can you think of an innovation around social media so users can share content based on
their user preferences at the local level? Some of our data is geo-coded or grouped by UK
local authority. We’re big on using social media for social good. Do let us know how you get
on @foodgov

UK food hygiene ratings data API (JSON and XML format)

For starters, this data provides the food hygiene rating or inspection result given to
restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places consumers eat, as well as
supermarkets and other food shops. The rating reflects the standards of food hygiene found
on the date of inspection or visit by the local authority.

Our updated API, which includes calls to the server, can be found at:

The original API and static XML files by local authority:

More about food hygiene ratings, and search facility for consumers:

Allergy alerts and food product withdrawals (RSS feed)

Food allergy alerts – peanuts, egg, milk, fish are some of the major allergens and when
allergy labelling is incorrect on a food product, or if there is another food allergy risk,
the food product has to be withdrawn or recalled to protect consumers. You can get our
updates at:

Food withdrawals/recalls – if there is a problem with a food product (contains pieces of
metal or a nasty food bug) then that means it should not be sold and might be ‘withdrawn’
(taken off the shelves) or ‘recalled’ (when customers are asked to return the product). The
feed for these:

UK local authority enforcement data (CSV format)

If something goes wrong or the risks become too high, local authorities can take
enforcement action against a food business – closure, seizure of food, a simple caution, or
a prosecution, for example. Data showing food law enforcement action taken is available in
CSV format for the past three years, 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13.
Audit of meat establishments (CSV format)Some meaty data here! Slaughterhouses, cutting plants and game handling establishments

are audited by the FSA and the results are published online. These audits have two main

  • to make sure that food business operators are complying with food law requirements
  • to ensure that food business operators are meeting relevant standards in relation to public health and, in slaughterhouses, animal health and welfare

More information about meat establishment audits:

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Enjoy the weekend guys!


Using Artefact Cards For Hack Days


I did think about starting this brief post with the usual supporter malarkey.

You know, “We at ENTER COMPANY HERE are delighted to be supporting, BECAUSE IMPORTANT” and all that.

But you know how important it is (especially given the events of the last year) for people with the skills and talents to help us all work with our governments, and hold them to account where necessary.

That’s why you’re doing it, and that’s why I believe in supporting the people who can make that difference however I can. Because, you know, I can’t. I code like Arthur Bostrom spoke French.

P1020802So, this weekend, everyone taking part in #NHTG14 will get a pack of Artefact Cards on their arrival. They’re like blank playing cards which you use with a black Sharpie marker pen. I’ve been making and using them for nearly two years, originally as an internal tool for my work with Smithery, then as a standalone product in their own right.

They’ve also been used for the last two years at the Brighton hub of Young Rewired State, as a tool to help the teams create and work on their ideas together.

Despite the promising initial progress of my home TARDIS project, I’ll be unable to be at all of the centres to talk about using them, so instead I thought I’d quickly sketch out some initial ideas about how you might find them useful, using some of the ‘rules of thumb’ card inside each pack.

1. You’re Not Writing A Note. You’re Making An Artefact.

Whenever you put something down on a card, remember that it’s a pretty robust little card. It will persevere in this world, it has a more concrete existence that a scrap of paper or sticky note. It will certainly bear up to being pulled and pushed this way and that at a hack weekend. So make it like you’re going to keep it, or give it to someone else to use. Make it more than just legible, make it beautiful.

2. Use Them As Playing Cards. Shuffle, Deal, Order, Rank.

One of the biggest benefit the cards have is their playing-card-ness. The great thing about playing cards is they can be in constant motion, finding new homes, new owners, new players, new groups to belong to. In this constant motion, you will be able to find new ideas, new connections, new solutions. So keep moving them around until you discover something you want to build. As William S Burroughs said, “When you cut into the present, the future leaks out”


3. If It’s Not Right Right Now, It’ll Be Right Later On.

Every idea, every element, every Artefact Card you make will have a time when it is relevant. So don’t bin them as the weekend progresses – keep them. Whether they’re data sources, interface types, user stories, personas… keep every card you make, and revisit them when you get a bit stuck, or want to test different directions, or just need to restate your assumptions. It’ll also offer your hands, eyes and brain a quick pitstop away from the computer.

4. It’s Not A Card. It’s a Single Brick. Build A House.

The temptation is always to cram as much onto a piece of paper as possible. That’s why the cards are small, so you can’t. Instead, think about all the separate elements that might be appropriate in building what you’re building. Don’t decide what order they go in as you draw them out of your head, but instead let the cards represent single parts, and build the

5. Makes Shapes Of Your Ideas, Or Maps, Or Scaffolding, Or…

Ideas aren’t documents. They don’t naturally follow a neat, linear flow (as much as we sometimes want them to). They have weird shapes, and loops, and that’s good, because it helps you understand them. Find the right shape in the idea with your cards, or even push it further and make it into a metaphor. Create a physical world in front of you, to understand what it is you need to do to live there.

Best of luck, everyone.

Artefact Colours-01

Artefact Cards are made in Axminster, Devon.  They were created by John V Willshire (@willsh), who runs innovation studio Smitherywhich helps people Make Things People Want rather than Making People Want Things.   You can find out more about Artefact Cards here.

O’Reilly Supporting National Hack the Government 2014!

We at Rewired State would like to thank O’Reilly Books for kindly giving us books to give away as prizes for National Hack The Government 2014!

These books will help any developer who wants to learn how to do more amazing things with data and will be available as a prize for winners over the weekend.

Here is a sneak preview

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There are also some free books about data that anyone can download for free from the O’Reilly website – links to download these products are below and they are available DRM free in ePub, Mobi or PDF formats.

Data for the Public Good

Data Holds Immense Potential to Help Citizens and Government

By Alex Howard


bigdatanow Big Data Now: 2012 Edition

Publisher: O’Reilly


Designing Great Data Products

Inside the Drivetrain Approach, a Four-Step Process for Building Data Products

By Jeremy Howard, Margit Zwemer, Mike Loukides

ONS at National Hack the Government


We are really quite excited here in the ONS Digital Publishing team about our involvement in this years ‘National Hack the Government‘ event that Rewired State organise.

Now for those that don’t know this event isn’t some dubious gathering of ‘ne’er do wells’ looking to cause online mischief it is;

“ annual hack day run by Rewired State. As well as bringing great people together to have a fun hacking and building things, we hope to improve transparency, open data and relationships between the Government and active hacking citizens. We do this by holding a competitive event for creating prototypes and building ingenious (and occasionally tongue-in-cheek ) projects that help improve state services or use open UK government data.”

Clearly the ONS generates data, in fact we don’t really do much of anything else! The vast majority of it is available under theOpen Government License and we encourage reuse (see Illustreets for a nice example of our data in action). The problem, we know, is that it isn’t always easy to find what you want so we’ve put this quick post together to point at a few of our data sources (you can also grab as many spreadsheets as you can cope with from the site itself.)

Over the weekend we have some staff dotted around in London and hopefully at the Bournemouth centre and will be keeping an eye on the various social media channels to help out where we can.

Key economic time series data

Quick access to the current and historical data for ONS key economic time series and economic indicators available as CSV including;

– Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
– Inflation
– Labour Market
– Balance of Payments
– Public Sector Finances
– Consumer spending
– Retail Sales


This is made up of data from the 2011 Census. Documentation and several example applications area supplied, though some popular platforms are not covered (due to not being used in ONS and thus us not having anyone with experience to write examples).

RESTful design, output formats are SDMX and JSON (JSON-stat in next version) plus CSV and XLS for generated downloads. API Key required via registration (but it is pretty lightweight).

Downloads page:

ONS Open Geography

No explicit API documentation or examples (but there is a simple one on the OpenAPI pages), however the portal does have the dual human / machine concept where you can find what you want on the site then get the URL to return that response in the machine-readable format of your choice (e.g. )
RESTful – output formats JSON, HTML, RSS, ATOM, FRAGMENT, KML,, CSV. No authentication required.

ONS Geography also have a linked data portal

The ONS Geography team also have a Twitter account at @onsgeography

NeSS Data Exchange

The pioneer ONS web service launched in 2008. Provides access to the vast NeSS database and its geographic functions. Originally developed as a SOAP service later modified so it can be called like a REST service with simple HTTP GETs, but it is not RESTful in the Roy Fielding definition. Supports LGDX, SDMX, and RDF output. LGDX is a simple XML schema for monovariate data developed by CLG for their “hub”. Optional registration (no authentication). 10,000 cell limit, mainly because it does constitutions on-the-fly.

Downloads page:


Provides access to NOMIS (which is official labour market statistics) data via a RESTful service. Similar design to the OpenAPI (based on 2009 document designing URI sets from the public sector) and has quite a few “bonus” features such as Google datatables and KML output. Output formats are XML, JSON, CSV, HTML. Registration optional – you get higher cell limit if authenticated. NOMIS data explorer has function to “capture” the API URL for your current selection.

Originally published on the ONS data publishing blog here.

Submit your ideas for National Hack the Government on Simpl Challenges

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FutureGov is excited to be involved with National Hack the Government by hosting local communities’ challenges on Simpl Challenges, including GlasgowExeterLeeds and Bournemouth.

Simpl Challenges is our innovation platform that connects local public services and organisations with innovators and ideas. Gathering ideas before the event on Simpl will give more time for learning, talking and listening to each other, and building some fantastic prototypes on the day itself.

Follow the links below to find out more and submit your ideas for your local event, or you can take part remotely by submitting your ideas to the UK section:

You can also comment on the ideas submitted, so that the idea owners can get valuable feedback on their projects before the event has even started.

This is a great opportunity to focus on building local networks to solve local problems, so make sure you submit your ideas on how we can code a better country over on Simpl Challenges.

A post by  Futuregov

National Hack The Government Glasgow inbound!

By Iain Collins, NHTG Glasgow Center Lead

The 6th annual National Hack The Government weekend is back and coming to Glasgow – it’s now only 2 weeks away!

Glasgow joins Leeds, Exeter, Bournemouth and London in bringing together hackers, designers user interface designers, data experts and others to create insightful, useful, and often amusing hacks using open data.

It’s an exciting time for civic hacking in Glasgow, with the City Council’s Future City initiative hosting a number of events over the next few months – with Public Safety last weekend and hackathons focusing on Energy, Health and Transport over the next few months.

There are now thousands of national datasets on and Future Cities Open Glasgow adds over 160 city specific datasets (and counting!) on a huge range of topics from Travel, Tourism, Transport, the Environment, Health, Education, the Economy and more. We’re looking forward to having access to Open Glasgow API’s over the weekend too!

If you’ve never been to a hackday before then RewireState’s National Hack The Government weekend is the perfect jumping in point – whether you want to come with friends or team up with people when you get there. We promise to take good care of you, and provide you with help and support (and food!) over the weekend.

National Hack The Government is an open ended event, welcoming all sorts of hacks on both local and national data (or both!). If you’re looking for inspiration or to get a flavour of what some people come up with you might want to check out some of the hacks from last year.

Signup is still open, if you like to come along register here!