Hackers provide creative solutions to open government data

GovHack Sunshine Coast 2015
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Six teams submitted innovative and engaging entries at the inaugural GovHack Sunshine Coast event held from 3-5 July.

Twenty people attended the launch on Friday night, including sponsors, to kick off the 46-hour event which brought together geeks, digital creatives, data analysts, storytellers and entrepreneurs to explore open government data.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sunshine Coast Interim CEO Anne Lawrence said the high calibre of participants and collaborative nature of the teams was outstanding. 

“We were overwhelmed with the quality of thinking and responses to the open data challenge. This event was a perfect example of everyone working together for the benefit of our region, with both Noosa and Sunshine Coast Councils actively involved in every step of the way,” she said. 

Team entries included:

  • Where2: a mapping tool which gives visitors a better idea of available facilities based on their intended activities, interests and requirements.
  • Dogs unleashed: an app that provides dog owners with information about parks, beach access points, dog-friendly water fountains, and where they are required to use a leash.
  • Walk guide: a responsive web application for discovering walking tracks and trails throughout Queensland.
  • Exerceo: an app which provides a simple and easy way to find places to play sport as well as find people to play sport with.
  • Queensland BrainMAP: addresses the challenge of “Where is the knowledge economy in Queensland?”
  • Banana Baron: an educational game for children which promotes awareness of environmental issues and the importance of being prepared for emergencies such as floods, fires and cyclones.

The Sunshine Coast event was one of 30 locations across Australia and New Zealand, with international, national and local prizes on offer. Local prize categories include:

  • Most innovative use of data to create a recreational, environmental and/or cultural solution for the Sunshine Coast region ($1000).  
  • Most innovative use of data to create a smart business and/or tourism solution for the Sunshine Coast region ($1000).

Winners will be announced at the red carpet awards night in Brisbane on 31 July.

Mrs Lawrence said the competition provided a great opportunity for people with mixed skills to come together to build a project using open government data and make it available to the community through mobile and web apps, application programming interfaces (APIs), data visualisations and infographics.

“GovHack builds on the success of events like Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast. We expect many more open-data collaborative events over the coming years, as the region continues to support further innovation, entrepreneurship and digital opportunities on the Sunshine Coast.

“While we expect a bigger event next year as the word spreads about this opportunity, now is the time to start thinking about what solutions we can apply to the open data that is currently available,” Mrs Lawrence said.

GovHack Sunshine Coast 2015 was sponsored by atmail, RDA Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council and Noosa Council.

TOP RIGHT: GovHack Sunshine Coast participants brainstorming on Friday night at the atmail office in Peregian Beach, looking for ideas on how best to use the open data.

RIGHT: Participants, organisers and sponsors from GovHack Sunshine Coast worked together for 46 hours over the weekend to come up with creative solutions using government data.