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First-ever CODE Hackathon set for 2015

Hackathons have become all the rage across North America and the world as governments, companies and organizations scramble to find ways to solve some of the world's most pressing problems. The Government of Canada, not one to be left out, has created its own hackathon.

Last week, the federal government announced the 2015 iteration of its Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) Hackathon. Now approaching its second year, CODE asks the country's most talented and creative coders to make use of the wealth of data that the federal government posts on its open data portal.

This year's iteration starts on February 20th—that's the same weekend that International Open Data Day happens—and will last for 48 hours. Coders across the country will be able to participate, though cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal will have special events to mark the occasion. Those that take part will be asked to create applications in three different categories—youth, commerce and quality of life. Participants have a chance to win the $15,000 grand prize, or one of the $5,000 category prizes.

The federal government decided to create the hackathon after Treasury Board president Tony Clement was asked to judge a hackathon that was hosted by XMG Studio, a local mobile game development studio. “The inspiration to do a hackathon arose out of the fact that we were putting these tens of thousands of data sets online, and what we wanted to do was to unlock the creativity of coders and entrepreneurs outside of government in order to kickstart the application of all these data sets,” says Clement.

Last year, one of the winning entries was an application that used the government's data on pollution to tell users if a neighbourhood they were planning to move into suffered from significant air pollution. Minister Clement expects that participants will come up with even better applications this time around, and that some of them might even be inspired to pursue a new career path.

“I'm hoping we get some applications that excite people and let them be creative. I'm also quite convinced that it will give some budding entrepreneurs the ability and motivation to create a career for themselves.”

Source: Government of Canada
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