Over the Air is an annual 2-day Hack Day that attracts over 500 mobile developers and hardware hackers for a community-driven workshop stream with over 40 sessions, an evening of inspirational lightning talks, and a range of Hack Day challenges to inspire creativity and experimentation.

The atmosphere of the event is one of shared learning, and celebrating programming & making as a creative discipline.

Over the Air is one of the UK’s largest and most established Hack Days for Mobile and IoT developers, with a strong presence in the open source and DIY communities, and thus an important place for the CCL to engage and collaborate with a developer and maker audience.

Margaret has been co-organising Over the Air for the past 8 years, in partnership with fell0w Founders Dan Appelquist and Matthew Cashmore.

Hacking Citizen Science—the Challenge

The 2015 edition of Over the Air , the Mobile Collective developed a Citizen Science strand that was sponsored by the Citizen Cyberlab, and featured a wide range of CCL projects.

As part of the Hack Day, we presented the Citizen Cyberlab “Hacking for Citizen Science” challenge, to inspire the participants to build a Citizen Science hack using mobile technology, the best of which would win a LilyPad Starter kit.

To help attendees to understand the dimensions of the challenge, Margaret and Brian ran a brainstorming workshop on the first day of the event to introduce a wide range of examples of Citizen Science in action and the ICT tools on which they are based, including GeoKey and EpiCollect+.

The CCL Citizen Science Challenge 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.

The prize for the Citizen Science hack (A LilyPad Starter Kit) was awarded to Tristan Roddis from CogApps for his “Transcriptinator” , an original hack for crowdsourcing transcription of old manuscripts at the British Library, which combined both hardware and software.


Lightning Talks – Science for All, and All for Science

Friday evenings are characterised by the more relaxed Lightning Talks, when attendees can grab a beer and sit back on the bean bags to be amused, informed and entertained by a series of short talks.

Margaret Gold of the TMC gave lightning talk on how Citizen Science + Hack Days have given birth to the idea of ‘Science Makers’ to support and promote DIY Science in schools and communities in a way that can have real impact.

The slides for this talk can be found on Slideshare.


Citizen Cyberlab: Hacking for Science

In this workshop, we demonstrated a number of tools and platforms developed by the Citizen Cyberlab, that can be used for your own Citizen Science projects.

We kicked off with a demonstration of Geokey, which is a community mapping platform from Extreme Citizen Science at UCL.

Benjamin Misiak and Mourdjen Bari from the University Paris Descartes, then demonstrated RedWire, which is a platform for building, remixing and sharing online games, that the are working on within the Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires

We got some really great questions from the fellow-game developers in the audience, and had a good discussion about games for Science – pointing out the differences between teaching scientific principals via games, and conducing scientific enquiry via a gaming interface. Benjamin and Mourdjen went into more detail about the games being developed on RedWire for research into Autism.

Poonam Yadav of the Social Computing Group at Imperial College then demonstrated CitizenGrid, which is a platform for application builders to host and promote their volunteer computing applications and for users to discover these applications.

The goal of CitizenGrid within the Citizen Cyberlab project is to put “big data” projects like the Large Hadron Collider Experiment at CERN within the reach of citizen science and citizen scientists.

We also showed how the  Virtual Atom Smasher team at CERN is partnering with CitizenGrid to make a supercomputing backend for crowdsourcing LHC simulations.

Additionally we showed the latest from UNITAR’s Geotag-x project, which allows individuals to contribute to tagging information related to disasters, in order to assist humanitarian assistance teams on the ground.

More photos of the event can be found on Flickr in the Over the Air Pool

Social Media coverage of the event has been captured on Storify

Press coverage of the event can be found on Forbes

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