GovHack announces 2014 winners

What Grows Here? wins people's choice award

After more than 1,200 developers across Australia hacked away for 48 hours over the 11-13 July weekend, the GovHack 2014 winners have been announced.

Hackers used open government datasets to build innovative apps and tools for citizens. Digital humanities, science, data journalism, social inclusion and business were the main categories.

The projects that won more than one award across the categories were What Is Gov (Baby Don’t Hurt Me), AussieMon: The Native Pokemon Game, The Hack Report, When the Heck am I?, Data-by-region comparator, Show the Gap and Languages of Sydney.

What Grows Here? won the people’s choice award; When the Heck am I? was the runner up.

Brisbane-based River City Labs, which helps develop startups and early stage businesses, will run a workshop to coach finalists on the next steps for their projects.

Past projects have had a life beyond the end of the event; one example is The Open Budget project, which was used for the first time in this year’s Federal Budget. The visualisation tool allows users to easily see how different government agencies spend their money.

The Department of Communications is looking to implement projects Data-by-region comparator and Stat.Map into its National Map.

Data-by-region comparator is an extension of the National Map that provides an easy way to compare data, such as health of various socioeconomic indicators, by region. Users can drag and drop a CSV file containing fields such as population, household income and income tax, onto the map and easily compare regions. Stat.Map is a 3D virtual globe that maps regional statistical data from the ABS.Stat JSON web service. Both tools use Cesium WebGL.

Geoscience Australia is also interested in the Australia Through Time project, an iPad app that shows geological, mineral and biological history of Australia from the Cambrian to the present.

Project Sarbii may also go commercial. The search and rescue tool tracks a person's journey and estimated time of arrival so authorities can be alerted early if he/she goes missing or doesn't arrive to the destination.

"A number of agencies both at the federal and the state level – indeed a couple of states – are looking at finding extra money to put into procuring some of the projects that have come out of this," said GovHack's national coordinator, Pia Waugh.

"GovHack is demonstrating that Australia's greatest resource is its people. It's only be engaging the talent, creativity and skills of our technical community that we are going to be able to get some of these great innovations happening in public and private sectors."

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who spoke at that Red Carpet Awards, said that there’s a huge amount of untapped data in the private sector that could help drive the open data movement in Australia.

“The reality is that most of the data in the world today is not collected by government. In computing terms, governments are not that big," Turnbull said.

"People think governments are big, important because they levy tax, they have got battle ships, planes and aircraft carriers, and all that stuff. But the truth is in computing terms, in transactional terms, government is not that big.”

Read: 'Smart Grid, Smart City' project may boost open data in Australia

Read: Turnbull says data retention laws would require ISPs to record customers' IP address

The minister said there is no justification for government agencies withholding data, unless it can't be properly anonymised – which includes not being able to link up bits of anonymised data – or if its publication would affect national security.

Eighty-five per cent of the federal government’s open data was published since the last election, with about 6,000 new data sets expected to be added to next month, Turnbull said.

“My department will also engage with the international Open Data 500 research program this year. This private-public research program will embark on the first detailed study of US companies that use open data, assessing the economic value that has been derived from the data.”

For a full list of the GovHack 2013 winners, visit:

Read: How open data and developers made real-time travel apps TripView, Arrivo Sydney and TripGo

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