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Open Data Mashup Challenge

Author: Kate Green   27th November 2015

Last week, Kate had the pleasure of taking two groups of student finalists to the Universities UK Open Data Mashup Event.

Two pitch teams UniPlan and Rate Your Student Home went up against four other teams to develop and pitch their ideas to a judging panel. It was an early start for 5 wide-eyed students going to their first HE conference; however, once arrived the morning was spent listening to panel discussions about innovations using Open Data Sets to positively improve day-to-day life in Higher Education. It is recognised that there is a huge amount to be gained from Open Data and the speakers encouraged that HE institutions should be doing more to make useful data open and usable.

Farduus, Martha and Tamera speaking with Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Computer Science, University of Oxford
Farduus, Martha and Tamera speaking with Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Computer Science, University of Oxford


It was during the afternoon when the Mashup really came into fruition; Samra and Martha delivered a 60 second pitch to the other delegates in a bid to recruit more team members and develop their ideas. Following this there were three 22-minute design sprints: 1) Users and function 2) Data 3) Pitch development. It was a great opportunity for the students to speak to those more experienced in using Open Data and also application development and design.

Both teams made a four minute pitch to a panel of judges including Ian Powling (Universities UK) and Dr Paul Feldman (Chief Executive of JISC).

The Rate your student home pitch from students at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University was highly commended by the judges for its focus on helping students to make informed decisions when seeking accommodation. The product would combine data from estate agents and institutions’ own accommodation services, and would enable students to share reviews of their digs. The judges considered that the proposed app could provide a useful service, but reflected that it would face stiff competition in an already busy marketplace.

The UniPlan pitch, another entry from students from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab, proposed a solution to a perennial problem for students: how to arrive in the right room at the right time. The proposed app would mash up timetable and room location data to provide a simpler and more user-friendly service.  While the team had clearly identified a problem that required a better solution at their university, the judges considered that its wider application would require more thought.

The feedback from the panel was extremely encouraging; however, it was John Lacey (Lancaster University) who was victorious and successfully secured a £5,000 grant to support the development of his app BookMart.

Reflecting on the day Farduus commented “we have learned so much about Open Data” and Martha looked back on developing her pitch: “I thought it was a fun and learning experience; learning how to deal with large crowds of people and also one that tested our presentation skills”.

Images Courtesy of Universities UK


Kate was tweeting from the Disruptive Media Learning Lab’s Twitter feed and was featured in the Efficiency Exchange Storify of the day which can be found below.

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