Over a weekend in September, more than 1,250 people gathered at 26 locations across the country to take part in GovHack — Australia’s largest open data hackathon.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been involved in GovHack. Over the years, our staff have participated as competitors and organisers. This year, we came on board as the lead agency sponsor.
We wanted to support and showcase the value of open data, particularly for government. We are the custodians of data.gov.au. Not only it is the main source of open data for GovHack teams, it is Australia’s largest repository of open government data. data.gov.au contains over 70,000 datasets on everything from registers of baby names and native title claims through to science and research data such as phytoplankton monitoring of the River Murray.
We believe that quality open data has the power to build connections between government, private and research sectors and support evidence-based decision making.
As part of our sponsorship, we were given the opportunity to present one challenge and one bounty award to the participants.
Challenge: help government decide with data
Local, state and federal governments make decisions every day so our challenge was focused around decision-making. We wanted to see projects that used data to help government make evidence-based, informed decisions to deliver better services.
The winner of this challenge was Crashboard. The Crashboard team designed an interactive dashboard to help local and state governments decide how to invest into road safety upgrades. Using transport, crash, weather and population datasets, the dashboard ranks local areas in Victoria based on a ‘road safety’ score. The team proposed that these scores could be used by local councils to identify areas in need of road infrastructure upgrades and decide on potential solutions to reduce the crash-incidence rate and save the lives of Victorians.
The runner up for this challenge was Safer Evacuations. The Safer Evacuations team developed a simulation tool to allow emergency management planners to model evacuation situations in urban environments. Using population, map and location data, the tool can test for building or environmental changes and plan for different emergency scenarios. The team imagined that these plans could be communicated in real-time for organisations like schools and embassies.
Bounty award: mix and mashup
We were looking for the best use of two or more data sets that might seem completely unrelated to each other, but can be brought together to inform great solutions.
The winner of our bounty award was Bubbles. The Bubbles team created a website of ‘empathy bubbles’ designed to build understanding between different demographics of people. They connected census, aged care, mental health and insolvency data to find unexpected similarities between different groups like young and old Australians.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in GovHack this year. The innovative and creative uses of open data were inspiring.
If you are an open data enthusiast like us, visit data.gov.au to join our online community.