The CCL Citizen Science Challenge

CCLlogoCitizen Science is real science done collaboratively by amateurs, volunteers, and enthusiasts around the globe. People are classifying galaxies from their computers, monitoring the health of trees in their community, transcribing weather reports from old naval logs, and gathering data to make a real contribution to scientific research. One emerging branch dubbed “Extreme Citizen Science provides tools that can be used by any individual, regardless of their level of literacy, to collect, analyse and act on information by using established scientific methods. This allows any community to start a Citizen Science project to deal with the issues that concern them – from biodiversity to food production, involving
communities from
housing estates in London to hunter-gatherers and forest villagers in the Congo Basin.

The Brief:

Build a citizen science hack using mobile technology. Anything goes—mobile phones, sensors, wearables, outdoor monitoring stations, balloons, drones…

If you need data, London Air data download is a good place to start

If you need inspiration, check out the wide range of Citizen Science projects listed on SciStarter.

To learn more about Citizen Science, open platforms and tools that are available, and some examples for inspiration, join us on Friday at 12:15 in the Crypt.

CCL PrizeThe Prizes

A LilyPad Starter Kit as 1st Prize, and 4 Espruino Pico’s as 2nd Prizes.


About the Citizen Cyberlab

The Citizen Cyberlab is a consortium of several Universities (UCL, Imperial, University of Geneva & University Paris Descartes) + CERN + UNITAR + The Mobile Collective. Together we are building digital tools and platforms for Citizen Science. Follow us on Twitter at@citizencyberlab.

To find out more about the tools and platforms we’ve been building for Citizen Science, join us on Saturday at 9:30 in the Anteroom.

The JustGiving Charity Challenge

just-giving-logoPowering the #tech4good movement, the JustGiving platform helps not-for-profit organisations, brands and a growing community of developers to build applications that harness the power of online giving. Apps like these drive thousands of transactions on JustGiving every day, helping people around the world to make good things happen.

The Brief:

Use the JustGiving APIs in a creative or engaging way to the benefit of this year’s OTA15 Charity – the St. John’s Hoxton Fund.

With more and more people relying upon their mobile device we’re looking for exciting and innovative ways to “give” or “support” a cause in new ways and new spaces. To support this the JustGiving API allows you to:

  • Get latest donations made to a charity
  • Get data regarding the charity (activity, description, logo, SMS codes, etc)
  • Create a leaderboard of fundraisers
  • Get Donation details for fundraising pages

Whether it’s a Spotify app that asks makes people “donate” for their cheesy song of choice or an app that recognises charity logos on the go, the world of giving on the go is changing rapidly and it’s the growing #tech4good community that are best placed to build and launch the next great idea. If for example you want to use donations as a means of unlocking rewards then we also have the Simple Donation Integration service that allows users to construct bespoke donation links.

What We’re Looking For:

In short on the day we’re looking for hacks that make the best or most innovative use of our technology. Feel free to forget the business plan or the glossy market strategy, just show us the tech!

41bv+eCMivLThe Prizes:

For the winning team we have a set of Arduino Starter Kits as prizes, and of course throughout the event our JG Hackers team will be on hand to support and coach you as you get stuck into our APIs! We look forward to working with you.


The BBC Connected Studio Challenge

As well as having a range of general Hack Day Categories, patient we also always have a number of featured Hack Day Challenges, salve that are brought to you by the organisations and companies that make the whole event possible.

This year we are pleased to share with you the BBC Connected Studio Challenge

The BBC Connected Studio Challenge: Mobile Personalisation & Immersion


About BBC Connected Studio

BBC Connected StudioConnected Studio is challenged with driving digital innovation across the BBC. With audience needs at the forefront of development, Connected Studio devises work programmes and events that lead to the production of innovative digital pilots. These programmes include workshops and creative sessions designed to guide people through the digital idea-generation process, before further support is provided to develop selected projects into pilots. Working with teams from across the BBC and external digital agencies, Connected Studio and its innovation network – as part of R&D – provide the inspiration, support and platform to help keep the BBC at the cutting edge of digital innovation, and a world leader at delivering engaging digital storytelling experiences.


The aim of this Challenge for the BBC

We’re looking for innovative new ways to serve a younger audience on the devices they spend the most time with; their smartphones. We want to do this through clever use of tech, design and editorial direction around our content and public service remit. We want to build on and extend the BBC’s unique and unrivalled content experiences, from our unique music output and world-class drama, to our well-loved soaps, unrivalled sports coverage and essential learning experiences.

We know we create some of the best-in-class linear experiences. We also want to ensure that the same applies to our smartphone, digital ones.

The aim of this Challenge for hackers

To tackle one of the following challenges during the two days of OTA15 to produce a prototype

Challenge 1: Personalised Experiences

How can we use what we know about people’s everyday digital life (where they are, what time of day it is, what language they speak, motion sensors etc) to deliver personalised, immediate and interactive experiences with the BBC via a person’s phone? How can we use data-driven design to create intelligent News recommendations? (see below for further background)

Challenge 2: Immersive Experiences

How can we offer immersive, VR/AR-like experiences to people that feel personal and interactive? What might such an experience look like? (see below for further background)

What we’re looking for?

BBC Connected Studio has the remit to innovate, pilot, and test new digital ideas for the BBC in new ways. We want to offer the opportunity to take the best ideas to get them further developed by our experts and even funded, made, and showcased on BBC Taster.

About BBC Taster

Taster-256x256BBC Taster is the public-facing platform which asks our audience to try experimental ideas from across the BBC. It was built and is run through Connected Studio and is a website that invites audiences to try, rate and share the latest digital pilots from across the BBC, showcasing a range of digital innovation tools, techniques and content. Pilots that have been developed through the Connected Studio process are tested using this platform.

What’s in it for you?

We’ll provide expertise to help shape the best ideas with the teams, and get them into a ‘ready state’ for submission to our pilot process. If selected against judging criteria success will see ideas funded to make a live pilot on BBC Taster and tested with our audiences.


Find out more at the BBC Connected Studio Workshop Session

Friday 25th September, 2015 – 12:15pm to 1:15pm in Marquee 1.

Further Background to the Challenges


Challenge 1 – Further Background

Within a smartphone, there’s lots of data that allow us to enhance people’s experience of content or to bring stories to life. We’re interested in how we can harness that information to make News more seamless, relevant and unique for the end users.

  • For example think of a location context – what might an experience look like on a commute to work, rather than sitting back on the sofa watching the TV
  • How might the time of the day inform how we consume content on a mobile?
  • Maybe smartphone peripherals like wearable tech could produce different experiences to enhance content
  • Could native functionality provide different context for consuming BBC News content?
  • What impact does location have on the relevance of Breaking News?


Challenge 2 – Further Background

We have seen developments in 360 filming, and games engine driven immersive experiences. These give people new ways to watch, participate and interact with the world – a more human perspective. We would like to see how these experiences might be made more personal. What might people experience from us that they would be compelled to talk about to their friends?

  • VR/AR experience is often seen as solo – how might these experiences become social or have multiple participants?
  • If one person is experiencing VR/AR what are others doing in the real world
  • Cooperative gaming is established – how might VR/AR build upon this? What would be the VR/AR version of cooperative gaming be?

NB: To partake in this challenge you should ensure you have the relevant equipment to test and show your ideas at the hack.

Tools for the Challenges


Hack The Juicer

Hack The Juicer – from BBC Newslabs is a news aggregation and content extraction API. It takes articles from the BBC and other news sites, automatically parses them and (based on their content) tags them with related DBpedia entities.

The entities are grouped in four categories: People, Places, Organisations and Things (everything that doesn’t fall in the first three).

We’ve provided an OTA15 specific event page and API for use within your hack

NB: This API must only be used for R&D and Education. It cannot be used for commercial or commercial promotion purposes.

Useful audience background

The audience we’re targeting is 16-34

  • 98% own a smartphone
  • On average, they share six pieces of content a day on social media
  • They spend up to 14 hours per day consuming media, across several devices
  • This audience tell us their main reasons for using the Internet are emotional (to relax, to feel better), to connect with others, to get better choice over what they watch, and for pure entertainment. The searching/transacting nature of the Internet is taken for-granted nowadays, and we are seeing an increase in more media-related several devices
  • This audience tells us they expect content online to feel immediate, interactive, offer an irreverent take and feel individual

Microsoft and BBC Help Kids to Get Creative with BBC micro:bit

Microsoft rallies UK developers to help kids code with micro devices.

On 25th September, Microsoft is launching an initiative to engage developers across the UK in helping kids learn to connect with devices and code with the BBC micro:bit.  The programme will start in London at Over the Air – where BBC micro:bit learning workshops will take place.



Developers and Makers at the Over the Air event, who share a passion for technology and for helping others in the community, are invited to join with Microsoft Technical Evangelists to support the Coder Dojo event on 26thSeptember, where kids will bring their ideas to life, and learn to code with TouchDevelop and the BBC micro:bit.  Kids will have an opportunity to show their creations on stage during the afternoon, alongside other developers and Makers from the Over the Air Hack Day.

After the event, the role of these newly trained community advocates will be to help inspire kids in their own communities and support workshops for the BBC micro:bit later in the year, when they will be rolled out across the UK to help every child in Year 7 to learn computer science.  These community advocates will encourage kids to participate in a variety of simple coding challenges and games such as building a Minecraft Creeper Face, a digital pet, an LED emoji, and more using the BBC micro:bit.

  • Howard Baker, “Father” of the BBC micro:bit will tell about it’s making during his Keynote Talk on Friday morning at 10:00
  • Microsoft will be teaching you how to Teach Kids to Code with the BBC micro:bit and TouchDevelop on Friday evening at 17:00
  • CoderDojo will be running a workshop that includes the BBC micro:bit and TouchDevelop on Saturday morning at 9:00 (Registration for this is separate – please check your inboxes for the e-mail with the direct link)

An Interview with Jamie Parkins, JustGiving

jamie_parkinsWe have asked a number of our Supporters and Sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days, here their views on innovation, and what they are excited about in the technology industry. Today we’re hearing from Jamie Parkins, Product Manager at JustGiving. 

Why do you get involved in Hack Days?

“As an organisation, JustGiving is very keen to encourage and be a prominent voice in the #Tech4Good movement. We know that amazing people can build amazing things that will mean no cause around the world goes unfunded. That matches our company’s goal and so it is only natural that we will achieve this through both our website and by also empowering others to develop alongside our platform. Attending, running and supporting hacks is a natural extension of this as this is where the grass roots really flourish. In addition people are often surprised that we are a platform that offers such functionality so its always good to be out there reminding them  particularly given the altruistic nature of so many hackathons.” 

Does involvement in Hack Days have an impact on the further development of your products and services?

“Very much so. Since launching our Consumer API over three years ago we have supported numerous events in an aim to add value on the day and to drive awareness of what can be done with the JustGiving platform. An added benefit of being present at hackathons is that you get to see your product used in earnest as well as celebrated and often questioned. Seeing your service used by developers on the fly quickly highlights either end points you’re lacking or areas where perhaps you are not providing sufficient documented support. Our new oAuth service came as a direct result of our time spent at hacks this year around the world witnessing people struggling to authenticate users quickly in order to build their app in a very limited time frame. “

We think that the kind of creative tinkering, new learning, and collaboration that takes place at Hack Days lays the basis for future Innovations in the mobile industry and beyond. What are your own internal approaches to Innovation?

“At JustGiving we’ve taken a number of steps that we think will help nurture an innovative environment. From physically moving to a more open plan office that discourages meetings in tucked away rooms and steers people towards open and collaborative spaces to structuring our software team into a delivery team, we are always looking at how we can be better in our day to day operations. A recent move to a micro service approach means we can build and ship quicker than ever before which naturally gives us more scope to test and learn quicker than ever before. If that’s “tinkering” in a lean style then I’m confident the net result is a greater set of innovative products for our users to benefit from. We’ve also experimented with running internal hack days to test new ideas, to broaden our horizons and to also “breathe” a little in what we all know is an ever changing technical landscape. “

Do you have a view on where the next big opportunities will lie for developers?

“Firstly I think the big opportunities will have an even greater chance of being fulfilled when we as service providers make life as easy as possible for developers. Whilst the likes of Twilio and SendGrid really lead by example, better documentation, faster times to Hello World, more plug and points of integration with the likes of IFTTT or Zapier and more consistency in API frameworks and policy can only remove the barriers to entry. Lower the friction and get out of people’s way in short! As for new opportunities in the world of JustGiving were fascinated with wearables and how people can harness the sheer wealth of data these devices are generating for good. How can lots of people walking 10,000 steps every day or a community of cyclists achieving new PBs ultimately help a cancer charity achieve their goals? Thats an interesting one to unpick for sure. And then theres your mobile device. As it becomes our beacon, our wallet, our quantified self as well as a device for communicating how does giving become an integral part of the mobile experience. We have teams looking at that as well as a growing number of partners that want to bring the two together. Exciting times. “


Tell us about some of your own new products and / or services that you are excited about.

“Our oAuth service I think will be a game changer for our community – new and existing. It means you can create and authenticate users quicker than ever and it makes JustGiving do the hard work, not the developer. That’s the way services should be. Friction free where possible.
To date the most popular use of our API has been for charity organisations to create fundraising pages for their supporters. That plays into the JustGiving business model nicely but when we take the API outside of the third sector, things get interesting. It’s amazing in how many spaces people want to generate generosity, or giving in their application or website.
Our aim to is to provide the transaction engine for facilitating that – and ideally through our API or Simple Donation Integration service. Just a few months ago British Summer Time Gigs ran a “donate to get a ticket” promotion for their Hyde Park Blur and Kylie gigs. It was great to see our platform used to process donations rapidly over a very short time frame (the word quickly got out on social media). JustGiving is not a ticketing site and the client was not a donation platform but together we were able to integrate and raise just under £50k in 4 hours. That’s the power of a platform approach. 
Coming up fast on the rails is live gaming. Twitch has made it so easy for people to broadcast their gaming and their numbers are just insane! And with any community like this you’ll find people that want to do good. The rise of the charity gaming marathon is getting a new lease of life thanks to Twitch and so we’re certainly interested in ways that third parties can join the dots between the streaming platform and JustGiving. “

How would you like to invite the attendees of Over the Air to get involved with your organisation?

“We often see developers try and create a giving mechanic that utilises our platform. Whether that’s someone using our search APIs to offer choice and discoverability or if its the Simple Donation Integration service to create donations that unlock “value” or “rewards”, we’re confident you can build tech4good over the course of a 24 hour marathon. To that end, our team of developers will be present to support, help and coach you. To give you some focus Over The Air have also selected a particular local cause that they would like any funds to go towards and to acknowledge what we deem the best use of JustGiving we’ll be awarding a set of Aurdinos as team prizes. We truly look look forward to seeing what you come up with. 
To get a head start check out our Developer Docs or follow us on twitter. Our Developer Evangelist Pawel will also be running a workshop session entitled “Mmmmm Dog Food: Making your APIs a First Class Citizen” which we’d love to see you at. “

An Interview with Toby Mildon, BBC Digital


Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 21.54.22We have asked a number of our Supporters and Sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days, their views on innovation, and what they are excited about in the technology industry.

Today we’re hearing from Toby Mildon, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for BBC Digital. (You can also Listen to the personal development talks that he organises for BBC staff.)


1. Why do you get involved in Hack Days?

“Besides being a fun way to innovate and share (both crucial for the BBC) we are supporting OTA because of its good gender balance. Since one of our objectives is to employ more women in technical jobs, we feel it’s a good platform to show that we’re an inclusive employer and meet talented people”


2. Does involvement in Hack Days have an impact on the further development of your services?

“I’m sure that my BBC colleagues in attendance will relish from sharing, learning and developing alongside such a great crowd over the weekend and bring really cool ideas back to the office the following Monday.”


3. What are your own internal approaches to Innovation?

“BBC has been innovating since its inception so it’s engrained in our DNA. R&D come up with some amazing stuff when looking to the future. Our Connected Studio programme brings innovation to the fore. Our developers have 10% time to engineer great ideas. BBC is such a creative place that innovation happens everywhere, all the time.”


4. What role can mobile developers play in the future of the technology industry?

“BBC’s mission is to inform, educate and entertain so if developers can build software that does just this then we really should talk some more!”


5. Do you have a view on where the next big opportunities will lie for developers?

“Our Director-General talks of an internet first BBC and I’m anticipating big opportunities in our Digital teams. myBBC is a big project for us, which personalises BBC Online based on your needs and interests. We need all hands on deck if we’re to build a BBC “for everyone, where everyone belongs” – to coin a phrase that our D-G said.”


6. Tell us about some of your own new initiatives that you are excited about.

“I’m responsible for Diversity & Inclusion in Digital and I’m particularly excited about our women in tech conferences, testing out ‘blind audition’ (like The Voice) to reduce unconscious biases, inclusivity awareness short films, disability awareness talks for line managers, working with the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Campaign and so much more!”


7. How would you like to invite the attendees of Over the Air to get involved with your organisation?

“Urm, come and work for us. Browse our jobs at


Introducing our Keynote Speaker: Howard Baker

We are very excited to announce that our Keynote Speaker at Over the Air 2015 is Howard Baker, order Innovations Editor at BBC Learning, cialis and “Father” of the BBC micro:bit. (See the recent article in Wired about the birth of the BBC micro:bit)

howard_smallHoward is lucky enough to spend his time looking at new technologies and ideas that impact learning and investigate them for BBC Learning. As lead of one of the teams looking at what the BBC could do in 2015 for digital creativity and coding he was responsible for developing the BBC micro:bit and is now working on its delivery.

His current interests include: Internet of Things, digital making, coding, physical computing, learning and the quantified self and how to help young people unleash their creativity in the 21st century.

You can follow Howard on Twitter @aitchbaker

Microsoft is Silver Sponsor of OTA15

We’re thrilled to announce that Microsoft is a Silver Sponsor of Over the Air 2015.

MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray_DMicrosoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Find out more about Windows 10 at:

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, a growing collection of integrated services – analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web – enabling developers, IT and data professionals to move faster, achieve more, save money and innovate. Microsoft Azure is easy-to-use, pay-as-you-go, and scales as you need with cross-platform support. Windows 10 is enterprise-ready, Maker-friendly, powering a broad range of devices with over 20 years of history in the embedded device space.

Find out more about Azure at:

“We’re looking forward to showing developers and makers how to connect their devices and data through the cloud,” says Elena Branet, who leads the IoT and Data programme for developers at Microsoft UK. “You can learn how to build a universal app with Windows 10, Raspberry Pi 2 and Visual Studio, check out your heartrate on a Microsoft Band, and see how machine learning works with Microsoft Azure.  We’ll be offering free Azure Passes to all attendees of Over the Air, and startups can apply to our IoT & Data Innovation Programme until 30th September for a chance to receive $120,000 of free Azure cloud, along with tech, tools and marketing support.”

Meet BBC recruiters at OTA15

Deliver award-winning content to a global audience.

€BBC MID LOGO colour navy RGB (2) - Copy (1)Online is crucial across all areas of the BBC. Help us provide the platforms for the editorial teams to showcase their incredible content. We want people who look to the future and collaborate to achieve exceptional results.

The BBC website is one of the most popular sites in the world, visited by over half of all UK internet users. Join us and you could be developing BBC websites, blogs, games and interactive Red Button services.

BBC Digital

The future of connected and mobile TV is in your hands

Join BBC Digital and transform the way media is consumed. Our ambition is to create the most valued open digital media services in the world. BBC Digital is the driving force behind the transformation of the BBC for an interactive, on-demand future. If you’re ready to work with the best content, on the best platforms, this is your chance.

We cater for audiences who want to access and interact with BBC programmes and services through the internet. We bring technology and design teams together to work in partnership with the BBC’s editorial teams.

Move the BBC forward to continue to exceed our audiences’ expectations

“The iPlayer is the best in the world, but we want to make it even better.” – Tony Hall

Do you want to be part of the team that delivers the next version of BBC iPlayer? Since its launch, BBC iPlayer has become one of the UK’s favourite brands. In January 2014 our TV and Radio requests totalled over 300 million for the first time in iPlayer’s history. Can you help make it even better?

As part of BBC Digital, you could also build games for CBBC and CBeebies. You could develop BBC WeatherSearch and our Homepage. You could change the way we deliver News to the world. Be part of the team which innovates to enhance the coverage of the next big Sport event.

BBC Playlister is the new collaborative way our audiences can discover and explore music. Our most recent development is BBC iWonder which provides interactive learning guides and showcases our breadth of content. 

Find new ways of reaching audiences wherever they are

BBC Digital’s remit is greater than just technically delivering BBC Online content. We design, develop and run digital services and products. Our aim is to allow audiences to enjoy BBC content on tablet, mobile, internet-connected TV and online seamlessly.

You can get involved in initiatives we run such as Connected Studio. It’s our new approach to delivering innovation across BBC Digital. It gives you the opportunity to shape the future of BBC Online. The programme is open to internal and external people who want to develop innovative functions and features for our audiences.

Most of our products are open-sourced and our work culture is to be collaborative and share skills across the BBC and wider media and technology industries.

Working with us

We have roles in areas ranging  from Software Engineering and Web Development to User Experience and Research and Development. We need Technical Project Managers and Technical Architects. There are also Administration and Business Operations jobs. These roles are based across the UK in London, Salford, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow.

Members of the recruitment team will be attending OTA15, so be sure to have and come and chat about what a career at the BBC is like, and what openings are available.

Join us

If you would like to gain paid experience at the BBC, you can apply for our Engineering Traineeship or our Engineering Apprenticeship.

You can apply for our BBC-wide Extend Scheme which offers appropriately experienced and/or qualified disabled people a great opportunity to gain six months paid work within the BBC.