Australia’s biggest hackathon event – GovHack – which took place over the weekend, has resulted in the submission of 379 projects from a Facebook bingo game that helps reduce littering to a chat bot that delivers live parliamentary proceedings and allows users to react to vote results.
Around 2,300 participants formed small teams at 27 locations across every state and territory (and New Zealand), to build prototype apps and services based on repositories of open government data.
High school and university students, government, industry and academia representatives, engineers, graphic designers, storytellers, artists and creatives (and at least one dog) were among those that took part in the 48 challenge, choosing from hundreds of open data sources.
The data sets range from spatial data of bikeways in Brisbane to data on young people in detention in the Northern Territory. Among them, Opal tap on tap off data and traffic data from Transport for NSW.
"Open data is a game changer for the way we solve problems, it provides the intelligence for insight and invention and it allows government and developers to help translate information into more reliable and useful everyday apps and services,” said Transport for NSW deputy secretary customer service Tony Braxton-Smith.
"The amazing thing about events like GovHack is that it opens up the communication line between the software developer community and governments,” he added. “We look forward to seeing what developers and researchers will be able to come up with from our traffic and Opal tap on and tap off data at GovHack this year, whether it be better management of network capacity, improved traffic flows or more effective disruption management, the possibilities are endless.”
Over the coming months winners will be selected by judging panels in a number of different categories, and for region specific prizes. A national awards event will take place in Brisbane in October.
The first GovHack took place in 2009 in Canberra. It grew from a two city event in 2012, to an eight city event in 2013 and a national 11 city event with over 1300 participants and observers in 2014. By 2016 events took place across 40 locations in two nations, with some 3,000 participants.
Organisers say it is about “hacking in the positive sense, civic hacking for a better world”.
“GovHack each year shows the nation and the world that our civic hacker community is strong, rapidly growing and able to tackle tricky data problems in clever ways,” they said in a statement.
“Governments collect and publish enormous amounts of data, but have limited resources to get it into the hands of their citizens in engaging ways. GovHack is about finding new ways to do great things and encouraging open government and open data.”
As well as federal and state government backing, the hackathon is also sponsored by the likes of Accenture, IAG, Amazon Web Services, Uber, RAC, Elastic, TasmaNet and Linux Australia.
Submitted projects this year include web, mobile and augmented reality applications, fresh analysis of data and 3D printed visualisations to better understand data patterns.