The organisers of the annual GovHack are hoping to take the data mash-up event to the next level in 2012, upping prize money to $30,000 and hoping that code generated at the event will find its way into agency applications.
The three-day event, to be held from June 1-3, invites programmers to use newly released government data in apps, mash-ups and data visualisations to improve delivery of government services to citizens.
Government agencies have tipped in $30,000 in prize money for the best hacks this year. Organiser Pia Waugh says this may rise to $40,000 as more agencies jump on board.
Agencies providing data and prize money include the National Archives Australia, Bureau of Meteorology and The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
AGIMO in particular was put on notice in the recent Williams report to rein in spending on any Gov2.0 initiatives that don’t provide measurable return on investment.
Speaking from her personal capacity, Waugh said AGIMO had taken an important leadership position in being open and engaging with public stakeholders and lauded the office’s sponsorship of the event.
Waugh said that while the Federal Government has often funded the volunteer-run event, it has not in the past sought to directly integrate outcomes into agencies.
But in the current fiscally constrained environment, agencies have contributed funding under the expectation that the effort will “fund ongoing outcomes from the developments of the event,” she said.
“GovHack isn't an event just about prizes,” she said. “It presents an important opportunity to demonstrate practically the economic and social benefits of open data, and keep a focus on continually improving access to public sector information.
"The fact that some of this years 'hacks' will be integrated into departments and agencies is an exciting and necessary step in the right direction for government.
“Geeks are the pioneers of modern society, in that we craft the tools that underpin modern societies and economies.
"If government is to be resilient in the face of global challenges, disasters and the rapidly changing expectations and needs of citizens, it is vital that government have a thumb on the pulse of technology and be engaged with the geek community."
GovHack also provides the government getting an “insight to the community”, she said.
The apps, mashups and data visualisations created from the open data also “makes it easier for non-technical and non-government people to interface with the complex machineries of government.”
Corporate sponsors funding the fourth annual GovHack include Adobe, Palantir and MailChimp (Gold), Google and Cisco (Silver), and in-kind sponsorship from INSPIRE Learning Centre (Canberra venue) and NICTA (Sydney venue), plus technical resources from Atlassian, Newscast, LinkDigital, Ninefold and Salesforce.com.
Previous mashups include:
Lobby Lens – sought to explore the relationships between lobby groups and Government spending using data visualisations.
Know where you live – provides basic information about Australian suburbs and towns in an easy-to-digest format.
Suburban Trends – uses similar data to provide information about the relative safety or socio-economic advantage of a given address.