You did read correctly. That does say "Hack" and "The Government" in one sentence.

People often misuse the word hack. It originally meant "to solve a problem" and a group of developers, designers and statisticians got together in London over the weekend to solve the "What cool things can you build with publicly accessible government data?" question.

Being a Flash and Flex programmer naturally I thought it might be good idea to do an interactive data visualisation of some sort.

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Interactive Public/UK Government Data

I was joined on the day by Daniel Goldsworthy a flash programmer who I have been working with recently and along the way we met a kindred spirit, Ian Shortman and an impromtu team was formed.

We absolutely worked our socks off and at the end of the day were proud of what 3 people can achieve in 8 hours. An interactive map which gives the user the ability to compare public spending across the regions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland within categories such as services, defence, public order, science and technology, agriculture and transport, amongst others.

Two sets are of data are compared at a time, one represented by the colour of the circles on a user defined range and the other represented by the size of the circles. In this way it is very easy to compare the spending on Housing vs Eduction, for example.

The data was provided in 6 time frames and so we have maintained these sets in our visualisation.

We believe that this type of visualisation allows the ever growing sets of data we are encountering to be understood and contextualised much easier than columns of numbers ever would.

We thoroughly enjoyed building it and thank the organisers, Rewired State, for their hard work and Vodafone for the prize (which we decided Ian could keep).

This is an open source project.