#EULife AppChallenge Q&A: Ralph Cochrane
With £15,000 in prizes, the new #EULife contest from AppChallenge is asking you to use newly available open data about how Europeans feel. We take a closer look with AppChallenge founder Ralph Cochrane.
What is the #EULife AppChallenge all about?
It’s a developer contest asking you to use the open data we’ve recently published from the European Quality of Life Survey. It covers all of the European Union including candidate countries like Iceland and Turkey on a range of issues from healthcare and household finance to job security and loneliness.
What do you have to do to enter?
The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16. We have a special prize for 16-24 year olds to encourage younger coders and we’re looking for great apps that use our open data. You just need to video your app or web service running and go to the website to enter.
Europe is a hot topic, why are you doing this now?
Believe it or not there’s nothing political about our work. We’re working with the UK Data Service to show how to create open data, publish it as an API (as well as straight forward download) and run a crowdsourcing contest to raise awareness. We talked to several data providers, but Eurofound (who own the survey) in Dublin were really keen to learn about open data.
Little did we know that issues like Greece would pop up at exactly the time we launched. With the UK referendum in 2017 it’s great that we have open data to look at that can show us how we compare to other Europeans on a range of issues. Perhaps not surprisingly we all value things like freedom, job security, the ability to go on holiday and access healthcare.
Who is supporting this competition?
We have a fantastic list of supporters and judges for the #EULife contest including the Open Data Institute, Google, The Royal Statistical Society, the UK Data Service, Hack & Craft and of course the Digital Catapult.
Open data is a phrase we hear a lot, what is it?
As the name suggests open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone. It’s a little like open source but for data. The UK leads the world and much of the data that is being made available is from public services or government so that we can now compare different datasets and accelerate our understanding of potential solutions. Having said that it’s still a little like the Wild West of the Internet. Organisations like the Open Data Institute, chaired by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, are helping to certify and standardise open data. At the same time, being involved early in this movement is exciting because we’re helping to break new ground.
What does your organisation AppChallenge do?
We run crowdsourcing competitions for developers. We’ve been doing it now for a few years and have helped a variety of clients including rock bands (yes really) and big brands like Coca-Cola. We also provide consultancy and API building services to allow people to make their data available in a more structured way. This could be in the cloud or as a commercial platform. Our community of developers is about 10,000 strong now.
How do we win some of the £15,000?
Well, read the judging criteria is always my top tip! The contest closes on the 30th September and we’re looking for apps that use our open data. Equally though we’re excited about the idea of mashing up this data with other data that you might be using, so if you’re interested in this area but are working on something else, that’s ok, you can still enter. We’re not asking for the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights), we’re just trying to stimulate ideas and ask people to use our data. We’ve also provided a series of video tutorials and a data explorer to help you get started.
You can also check out Ralph’s previous blog post “Promoting your business online: the realities”.