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App Lab at Kortrijk, Belgium

App Lab Howest winners Arai Studios
There are many names for a co-creation event on Open Data. Some call it a hackathon, an appathon or a codefest. At Howest Kortrijk in Belgium they decided to call it App Lab. The event was a cooperation between the University of Howest Kortrijk, the intercommunal Leiedal, the city of Kortrijk, parking company Parko and the European project Opening Up.



On the 27th of June, students as well as industry gathered for the first edition of App Lab at the brand new building of Howest, The Level. There were 55 participants and a few spectators. They divided into 11 (big or smaller) groups to work around the newly opened datasets of the city of Kortrijk. Ten of them managed to develop a concept for a mobile and/or web application. After 8 hours of coding, these innovative ideas were presented accompanied by 9 demonstrations the developed application. This is obviously a huge success and could count on a lot of interest of spectators and the aldermen present.

Most apps were based on open data from Parko, the parking company of Kortrijk. They offer a static and a dynamic data set in open data format. A team developed an internal app for service department for public parks to make it easier to plan the daily tasks they have to perform according civil reports of damage, littering or other information. The route navigation is fed directly by the public reporting service. Also an SOS service is in the making. This allows citizens to quickly find information in case of an emergency. The citizens, but also the city and assistance teams can use this to communicate in a disaster quickly and accurately. The youngest participants proved to be the best by the jury. Sibert Declercq (18) and Tom Dupont (18) developed an app for a cultural walk through Kortrijk according to your own preferences of nature, history, architecture, art or shopping. The city will now follow up on the projects hoping to implement some of the apps effectively and to make them available to the public.

An overview of the various participants in the first AppLab

Walking in Kortrijk (Arai Studios) – first place

The app allows to discover the city of Kortrijk by configuring a walk determined on a number of preferences: nature, history, architecture, culture, art or shopping. Depending on the chosen topic a Google map route calculated through the city of Kortrijk. In addition, pop-up information comes to your mobile, based on your current position. The winners of the contest developed a native Android application.


Where can I Parko? (Stack & Heap) – second place

Stack & Heap is a company located in the region. They made a professional looking app featuring an overview of the various car parks  in Kortrijk. At any time real-time information is shown on the occupancy of the parking lots, indicating the nearest parking lot and a navigation feature how to get there. The innovative part is the integration of a timer feature that displays a message on your mobile phone 15 minutes prior to the expiration of you parking time in an underground car park, a public parking spot or a shopping zone. They published the code on Github.


Reporting problems (Francesco Verheye)

While most of the developed applications target citizens, Francesco Verheye wanted to develop a service for the department of environment and green management. This city service is responsible for repairs, public parks and green asset management.  All citizen reports concerning green services and maintenance are filtered from a database and all pending reports are sent to the staff of these services. The public service gets a nice overview of all the tasks they have to perform during their work day and Google maps calculates the best route to carry out these tasks. The civil servants can even communicate through the app, e.g. by changing the status of the issue to resolved.


Kortrijk Parking (Sanders & the coding minions)

There were a few groups making use of the dynamic data offered by the parking company of Kortrijk, Parko. Sanders & the coding minions built an app with the real-time information what parking is available using Google Maps and geo-location. Also a lot of static info is shown, like the height of the garage and the tariff. The technology used is PHP and HTML5.


Activities of Kortrijk (Emenka)

This group developed a service that picks up information from the open database of Belgium and filters on Kortrijk. A brief description of the social or cultural event data is shown and also takes account of parking issues and the occupancy of the car park. There is also a navigation feature. Furthermore the app provides integration with the details of the national railways to calculate the optimal route to Kortrijk. The technology used is ASP.NET.


Parking information in Kortrijk (Jef Daels)

Jef Daels developed and app that indicates the open parking spots in the city of Kortrijk. You can check in real-time which parking still has available parking and how many. A navigation feature guides you to the parking lot and a makes a distinction between paid and free parkings. The visited parkings can be remembered by the app, thus enabling a navigation back to where you left your car. The application was written in Windows Surface and by extension for the Windows Phone.


Find a dorm in Kortrijk (The Dream Team)

The dream team developed a working app for students (and their parents) indexing the student housing in the city of Kortrijk. You can select a particular campus and then start your quest for a place to live during the alleged best years of your life. Students can specify preferences of what they want in their neighbourhood: parking, entertainment, bars, shops, ... On the basis of these preferences the app displays available student rooms on a Google map. In the future the app can also include the safety of a neighbourhood. The technology used is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript.


SOS Kortrijk (Classy)

This app is written in three languages ​​and can be used for crisis communication. In case of a disaster, SOS Kortrijk focuses on three parties: the victims, the assistance teams and family/friends. The app allows all three parties to communicate with each other. As a victim you can indicate via 3G that you’re okay or request assistance. Automatically the position of the victim in distress is passed on to the other parties. The main advantage of such an app is that that in case of a local overcharge of the mobile network, it falls back on the data connection while regulars calls/sms tend to black out (see Pukkelpop disaster in 2011). In the event of a disaster people the app generates open data on the status of vicitms. Their geo-location an condition is communicated to friends, families and city services. The technology used is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript and Drupal.


Parking in Kortrijk (Pieter-Jan and Bram)

Als this team focused on the parking data of Parko. They wanted to build an app that features fast and way to park your car safely. An overview of the car parks and the exact available places are displayed and you can also request a route description directly to the car park. The technology used is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript.


Explore Kortrijk (Levi Van Zele)

The concept of this app is to get to know the city of Kortrijk in a different way. The app shows a summary of the latest news from Kortrijk on events, where there are parking spaces, where to shop, where there are public toilets and where you can find the public litter bins. Specifically, you can create a complete route to get to know the city. You can plan an entire day in the city of Kortrijk. The app customises route planning depending on the target group (elderly, youngsters, family).

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