Largest-ever Canadian hackathon crowns its champion

April 1, 2014

SLYM (third place), Electric Sheep (first place and fan favourites) and Team Quantified (second place) were presented with their winnings by The Honourable Tony Clement at the CODE Grand Finale, March 28 in Toronto.

An app that would match new Canadians and existing residents looking for a change of scenery with the city or town best suited to them took two of the top prizes at Canada’s largest ever hackathon.

Sponsored in part by oneeleven, the data-driven accelerator co-founded by Ontario Centres of Excellence, OMERS Ventures and Ryerson University, the Canadian Open Data Experience is the first nationwide open data hackathon to use Government of Canada’s open data sets.

newRoots, an app developed by Kitchener-based Electric Sheep, utilizes income, visible minority populations, crime rates, housing opportunities, climate, unemployment rates and labour industries to help people find a place that offers the greatest opportunity to maximize their potential, be successful and productive.

At the end of February, more than 900 developers participated in a 48-hour hackathon event with oneeleven serving as the VIP HUB host in Toronto and remote participation from across Canada. Some 110 apps were created with the best 15 invited to Toronto for the March 28 Grand Finale where they pitched to a panel of judges that included former Dragon’s Den star and businessman Robert Herjavec.

newRoots bested 110 other apps to win the $25,000 top prize as well as taking home $1,000 for the Fan Favourite as chosen through online voting. An app that offers information on smarter commuting options took the second place prize of $5,000 while a tool that provides air quality and health information won the third place prize of $1,000.

Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and CEO, and chair of the board of oneeleven, said of the finale: “This was a terrific conclusion to the event at oneeleven. These apps showed what is possible by utilizing massive open data sets like those of the federal government.”

MP and Federal Treasury Board President Tony Clement was one of the judges and has been a leading proponent of opening government data to this kind of use.

“It started with a whacky idea to open up our data and see what happens,” Min. Clement said. “These apps show the power of open data for the betterment of Canadians. We should be proud to be part of a world-wide movement.”

Bilal Khan, Managing director of oneeleven added: "The CODE Hackathon was proof of the incredible outcomes that can be achieved when you give bright and talented developers access to open data-sets and these results were achieved in only 48 hours. The Federal Government did an incredible job of leading this initiative, but now it's time to see industry step up and recognize that their data is far more valuable when crowdsourced, rather than sitting in their cobwebbed vaults.  There's a time-value to data."