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Oct
05
2018

Open-data solution aims to reduce kindergarten wait lists

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The open-data hackathon winner CareQueue hopes to reduce waiting lists for kindergartens - a problem many parents face. 

The winning team at an open-data hackathon, CareQueue, will help quickly distribute kindergarten spaces in Riga, help users process application documents and provide information about private kindergartens, as well as show availability of nannies near family homes or workplaces. Four open data sets from the Riga Municipality and Latvia’s open data portal were used to specify the location and availability of all preschool institutions.

“We feel incredible and are extremely happy about the work we’ve done! Currently we have a semi-finished prototype that could help children in the Riga area find kindergartens without the long waiting lists. Every year 20 thousand parents place their children on kindergarten waiting lists, where the waiting period ranges from several months to years. The main problem we discovered while making the prototype is that the current data available on the portal shows waiting periods, which don’t match the priorities by which children are actually accepted to the kindergartens. We plan to further develop our solution and, if possible, adapt it to other cities in Latvia as well,” says CareQueue team representative Janis Baiza.

The author of the idea, Aija Sadovica, is a mother herself, and she developed the solution with teammates Arturs Oniscenko, Janis Baiza, Martins Brunenieks, Rolands Bondars, and Rolands Kalvans.

Mentors emphasized that the CareQueue app would have demand in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, where people also face problems with kindergarten accessibility.

From September 28th to 29th 24-hour hackathon Open Data Hackathon 2018 was held in the Latvian State Radio and Television Center tower. 75 participants divided into 11 teams were working on innovative ideas based in the use of open data from four sectors: transport, culture, regional development and tourism. At the event organized by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) and the Latvian Open Technologies Association (LATA), the main prize of 1000 euros from Tieto Latvia was won by the CareQueue team. 

The second place and 750 euro prize from LATA went to the ComeBack team. They developed a site to help people wanting to emigrate to Latvia make better choices about which city in Latvia to return to. Evaluation criteria include housing availability, infrastructure and social services. In the future, the team expressed a desire to integrate a fourth criteria - job opportunities. The site also provides detailed descriptions for three recommended cities.

The third place and 500 euro prize from eazyBI were won by the team Piesien.lv. They developed an app for Android and website, which allow users to search for existing bicycle parking, as well as recommend where new bicycle racks should be installed. Team representatives emphasized that the amount of cyclists has increased by 40% over the past year, yet the infrastructure remains the same. Both companies and local governments can use this app to improve infrastructure and develop a network of bicycle parking spaces to support demand.


“Open Data has tremendous potential when used appropriately, and the hackathon format is a great way to absorb new information in a short period of time. It helps problem-solving become more focused on developing a new solution, which can improve on the work of government, as well as provide economic value. We invite all businesses to use the data sets available on the Latvian Open Data Portal and create innovative services,” urges Director of Institute of Technology of LIAA Edgars
Babris.

“Hackathon participants elegantly demonstrated that the potential of open data use is limited only by one's imagination. It can be used to develop a wide range of ideas and products that would make our daily lives more comfortable, more interesting and safe. We hope that the ideas created during this hackathon will be further developed and commercialised. We also invite public authorities and private companies to continue opening up new data sets,” says Chairman of the Board of LATA Jānis Treijs.

All of the apps created during the hackathon were developed using open data, and not only the data published on the Latvian Open Data Portal, but also using data sets prepared for the event by supporters (Latvian Mobile Telephone, National Library of Latvia, Jelgava City Council, Passenger Train, Autotransporta direkcija, Latvijas Valsts ceļi, Rīgas satiksme etc.). Statistics from a European Commission study show that the economic potential of the expanded use of open data could reach up
to EUR 70 million for the Latvian economy.

Other interesting ideas developed during the hackathon include an interactive app featuring tour guide lists and objects at unique points-of-interest described in four languages. There was also an app that helps users find affordable housing and bank financing was also created, as well as an app that gives tips on what to do to avoid falling into poverty in your old age.

Participants were mentored by nationally and globally recognised experts in open data: Intelligent transport Expert Daniel Wolf (Germany), former Data Management Solutions Group Director at IBM Steven Adler (USA), Doctor of Theoretical Cybernetics Karel Charvat (Czech Republic), Data Visualization and Data Journalism Trainer Nika Aleksejeva, Open Data and Linked Data Expert Uldis Bojārs, Open Data Expert Toms Ceļmillers, UI/UX Expert Pēteris Jurčenko and eazyBI Founder and Open Data Expert Raimonds Simanovskis. Event was moderated by Emil Syundyukov.

Special acknowledgment awards were presented by LIAA, M. Pūre Beķereja/Restorāns, Zatoshi, Tieto Latvia, Dailes teātris, eazyBI, HERE Technologies and Latvian State Forests.

The hackathon was organised by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia in cooperation with the Latvian Open Technologies Association. Event partners: the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia and the Data School. Event supporters: Tieto Latvia, the Latvian State Radio and Television Center, eazyBI, Oracle Latvia, LMT, Zatoshi, Jelgava City Council, Passenger Train, Diena newspaper, Fazer Latvia, Coca-cola HBC, Taxify, Daile theatre, M. Pūre bakery/restaurant, Aldaris, Radio Naba, HERE and the National Library of Latvia.

Funding was provided by the EU ERDF Innovation Motivation Programme.