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midata and the innovation opportunity

Posted on: Wednesday 15th of February 2012

Following the recent London Green Hackathon, the winning hacks have now been announced. It’s inspiring to see what a few ingenious minds can create over a weekend using only data that’s freely available. When organisations start releasing customer data in a portable, reusable way (for example, as part of the Government’s midata programme), innovative applications will offer much, much more. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which is running the midata programme, supported the Hackathon to get a flavour of just what kind of innovations the future could hold.

The data used in the hackathon was anonymised open data and anonymised yearly gas and electricity usage for around 20,000 homes, grouped by area, made available by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. From this many exciting applications were developed, including:

Greensta – uses energy usage data and analyses it in terms of costs and income forecasts to make predictions on the outlook for people’s standard of living. Using the predictions it shows what an individual can buy now and in the future in terms of fashion items or travel.

Retrofit – uses data from openenergymonitor.org to explore the implications of adding more insulation or improving draught proofing. Individuals can see predicted energy demand and the financial payback of changing options.

Nanode Ambient Energy Display – showing power consumption data as big bold colourful graphics, helping individuals to see and understand their usage.

These new ideas underline a key point about midata – its role as platform for the innovation of a wide range of new Personal Information Management Services that we can’t yet imagine but which will help us run and manage our lives better.