This weekend I have been a coach at the Wyndham GovHack – this is an annual event which is hosted across Australia and New Zealand.
According to Wikipedia: GovHack is Australia’s largest open government and open data hackathon, attracting in excess of 1000 participants each year. First run as a small Canberra-based event in 2009, it has quickly expanded to a national competition with simultaneous events taking place in major cities across the country in July each year. Available prizemoney has similarly increased, with a total prize pool of $70,000 available in 2014.
The event requires small teams of competitors to produce any kind of “hack” using Australian government data in around 46 hours, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The format of a “hack” is unspecified, but the most common are web applications, mobile applications, or visualisations. Together with all source code deposited in an open source repository and open-licensed, each team is judged on a three-minute video they must produce, demonstrating what they have produced and its future potential.
Although competitors may use any available open government data, certain prize categories mandate the use of certain datasets, such as “Best Geoscience Award” or “Best Use of Taxation Statistics Award”. Typically, participating government departments — federal, state or municipal — release special datasets just in time for the competition each year, with an associated prize.
This year Wyndham City Council has hosted our local GovHack and we have had about 100 locals working away from Friday night and currently preparing their videos and presentations and submissions. Apparently, we are the second largest group after Melbourne City, which is great considering we are the fastest growing municipality in Australia – we need the passion, energy , vision and skill of our locals to engage in creative and smart solutions.
I have happily basked vicariously in the energy of the event and had many conversations with some very smart, passionate and enlightened people and it has been very pleasing to see our council nurture and encourage this energy.
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating and I am looking forward to hearing the presentations, we may well have the next big idea come out of Wyndham, but regardless, I have witnessed collaboration, cooperation and a broad and multi-cultural mix of young and old – with a passion to make a difference. This gives my heart confidence and pride in our burgeoning community.
My dream of Living, Working, Shopping and Supporting Local – Collaborating Global continues to nurture and grow>