CareQueue, an open source project that presents public data on preschools, won last week’s Open Data Hackathon 2018 in Riga (Latvia). The software plots preschools on a map, showing space availability and waiting list times. The developers have combined data from the municipality and the national open data portal; however the software was developed specifically to make it easy to adapt to other cities and countries.
On Saturday, the prototype of the CareQueue project was awarded EUR 1000 by the organisers, the Latvian Open Technology Association (LATA) – a trade group – and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).
The CareQueue software is built on Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL and D3.js. The six CareQueue developers are now finalising their project and code repository, and hope to make everything public in mid-October. To verify addresses the developers use OpenStreetMap and other navigation solutions.
The length of preschool waiting lists in Riga is a significant topic in the Seima elections taking place in Latvia this weekend. The developers hope to make it easier for parents to find kindergartens.
“Every year 20,000 parents place their children on kindergarten waiting lists, where the waiting period ranges from several months to years,” one of the CareQueue developers, Jānis Baiža, is quoted as saying in a press release from LATA and LIAA. “The main problem we discovered while making the prototype is that the current data available on the portal shows waiting periods that don’t match the priorities by which children are actually accepted to the kindergartens,” Mr Baiža is quoted as saying.
However, The CareQueue developers emphasise that their software can be adapted to other cities in Latvia and elsewhere. “It can be adjusted to any municipality which has an open data feed that displays the application queues for preschools, and a public feed of addresses or coordinates of preschools”, Aija Sadovica, who came up with the idea for CareQueue, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory. “We would be happy to get in touch with others.”
According to LATA and LIAA, last week’s hackathon at the Latvian State Radio and Television Center involved 75 developers who worked in 11 teams using open data on transport, culture, regional development and tourism. The event was funded by the European Regional Development Fund.