What I learnt from hosting National Hack the Government in London 8-9 March 2014 #NHTG14

In a moment of rashness I suggested to the Rewired State team that the NAO might be able to host the London part of National Hack the Government. I think that I had a rush of blood to my head.

Anyway they were struggling to find a venue and I knew we had a great one so it seemed a ‘perfect’ match.

I then realised what this really meant. That is having a foolproof wifi; persuading senior colleagues (and the press office) that ‘hacking’ was actually good; and having the building properly open at the weekend.

So my journey began.

After some travails I was able to get internal senior agreement to go ahead which was to their credit since as the auditor of government linking the NAO with an event called Hack the Government could be seen as provocative.

Also, despite an originally daunting list of requirements from the facilities area when it came down to it they were brilliant and extremely helpful. So for example the cleaners came in on the Sunday morning to give the place a once over.

That just left the IT side who again were outstanding with a network colleague even coming in on the Saturday morning to help with the wifi set up and troubleshooting. We managed to set up a few contingencies which were not needed even when it looked like some of the developers were pulling half the data on the internet into the building. The knowledge that we gained from doing this will help improve our ability to host tech events.

However the best bit was having to sleep overnight in the building it gives you a whole new perspective on how long developers work on a project and the variety of sleeping options including chairs, bean bags and desks. At least I got to go running round the Serpentine on a perfect Sunday morning.

So overall a great experience and I am glad we did it. I had a surprising number of people asking how it went and I think that it was a breakthrough for the NAO to host such an event.

This is a rather good video about the event with some great shots of the building.

These are the hacks that were built.

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