Last year the organisers of the first BlueLightCamp reached out to me and asked me if it would be crazy to try to run a hackathon focused on mobile apps, apps and open data at BlueLightCamp 2013. “Probably. But lets do it anyway.” I said. And here we are. Two months away from BlueLightCamp which is this year an unconference and hackathon.

Hackathon? What’s that? How to I participate? Do I need to be a developer?

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others in the field of software development, like graphic designers, interface designers, project managers and computational philologists, collaborate intensively on software projects.  –

Hackathons are a fun way to share experience and knowledge and the time limited nature of them concentrates the mind on prioritisation.

The most important thing to bring is an idea

Anyone can participate in a hackathon. You don’t need to be a software developer. All you need is an idea! We will encourage people to form groups on the day and work together. We will have a hackathon introductory session at the Unconference where you can start to think about the ideas you might want to bring, and find some like minded people who want to get involved. If you are already a group with an idea then bring it along. We will have some open data from the blue light services and some ideas for apps or web services if you just want to get involved.

Our Hackathon is a contest which means there are judges and prizes. It will conclude at 4pm on 28th April, when applicants present their entries to the BlueLightCamp Hackathon judges and all attendees.


To be eligible for the hackathon, the project team behind the hack must

  1. Be registered attendees at BlueLightCamp and physically present at the event.
  2. Publish their source code on the BlueLightCamp GitHub under the MIT Licence
    1. We chose the MIT licence because it is a permissive free software license, meaning that it permits reuse within proprietary software provided all copies of the licensed software include a copy of the MIT License terms. We want the hacks to be used not forgotten!
  3. Following the BlueLightCamp guiding principles (which will also be published on Github) and commit to showcasing their app or project in the BlueLightCamp web site and mobile app and in principle to returning to present their activities and progress in subsequent BlueLightCamp events.

Judging Criteria

  • Functionality: Does the application take advantage of some unique functionality such as native user interface elements in a mobile phone or social networking or geo-location.
  • Adoption: Is the application useful to a consumer or business person or is it for a specialist? Does it better connect blue light services with the public, with each other or with partner agencies?
  • User Experience: Is the application easy to use? Is it graphically appealing? If it is a mobile app does it work on multiple platforms, if it is a web app does it work on mobile browsers as well as the major browsers from Mozilla, Apple, Microsoft and Google.
  • Level of Innovation: Is the application unique and innovative?
  • Evolution or revolution: Does the application provide a way forward that makes a difference
  • Practicality: Do the judges believe the app or project is practical
  • Value for Money: Do the judges believe the app or project is a better approach to current alternatives

Technical help

We will have technical help on hand from a variety of experts from organisations who can help you choose and install tools and frameworks to get things done whether its a database, web services stack, mobile development platform or language. (More about exactly who when we get more sponsors).


  1. Hackathon participants must be registered for the hackathon part of BlueLightCamp 2013.
  2. The development tools, frameworks and application focus are entirely up to the participants but they must be relevant to the blue light services.
  3. The project must be uploaded to the BlueLightCamp github by 3pm on Sunday.
  4. Participants are expected to bring all tools and software necessary to build their entry.
  5. Employees of the Blue Light Services are especially welcome to participate in the Hackathon, and are eligible to receive prizes, because this work is taking place in their own free time, and the prize sponsors do not know who will be the recipients. Prizes may be items of no cash value such as development tool subscriptions or not for resale equipment. Prize winners may choose to give any prize to charity at their discretion.

Angus Fox smallAngus Fox

We plan to have a hackathon at BlueLightCamp 2013
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