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White-Hat Hackers Hit Helsinki


Published Sep 26, 2012

They call themselves hackers, but they’re not out to break into your bank account or steal government secrets. Instead, programmers meeting at the third Green Hackathon in Helsinki, Finland, are looking at ways to make data more “transparent” for use in sustainability and environmental protection.


Hannes Ebner

Following earlier events in Stockholm and London, the third Green Hackathon was held at Finland’s Aalto University Sept. 19-20 as part of the Open Knowledge Festival, a week-long event aimed at investigating how organisational ecosystems are strengthened by information sharing, and at how transparency can bring positive social benefit.

Workshops held under the Green Hackathon banner are designed to put creative minds and programming talent to work finding practical solutions to environmental threats, with this year’s event featuring talks by sustainability experts from the World Bank Open Data Initiative, the International Land Coalition, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and the environmental intelligence aggregating company AMEE UK.

Jorge Luis Zapico

Researchers Jorge Luis Zapico and Hannes Ebner from KTH’s Center for Sustainable Communications convened a panel at the Hackathon entitled “Future, Openness and Sustainability,” focussing on ideas around the role of open knowledge as an ethical value for sustainability.

“It’s time to take the environmental data we’ve already got and actually do more with it,” says Ebner. “The World Bank and the OECD have huge amounts of information, and they’re beginning to open that up to researchers and the public.”

“REEEP told the conference about a visualisation project to look at data on tax policies for the oil industry and how that affects investments in renewables,” Zapico explains. “And we heard about the Land Matrix public interface, that lets users explore information about large-scale land deals in the world through dynamic visualisations.”

The panel discussion considered the cleanweb, open seeds, open education resources, open source architecture and open economies.

By Kevin Billinghurst |