Federal Government departments have agreed to take on board gentle criticism surrounding limiting and inaccessible aspects of many of their websites from developers competing at the third annual GovHack 2012 compeition.
Some 300 developers and designers in more than 40 teams competed for $40,000 in prize money as they sought to use publicly open data to create new applications and ways of visualising statistical informastion.
The projects created over the weekend at events held in Canberra and Sydney ranged from the creation of new ways of presenting historical pictures, to providing new ways of using more than 100 years of weather data.
Developers sought new solutions to the issue of how can government data be better used to benefit Australians, even at the expense of bagging out the websites of the competition sponsors.
"Thank you for letting me know how crap my Government site is, I really appreciate the feedback," said David Fricker, National Australian Archives Director-General at the award ceremony.
"Your message is not lost and it was good to see what a little creativity can offer."
The ultimate winners included:
Best use of Archives Data (Sydney) - $2500
- Double Rainbows team – for “Better PhotoSearch” to speed up searching the National Archives’ 300,000 images.
Best Use of Archives Data (Canberra) - $2500
- History in Action team – for `History in ACTION' a website that gives Canberrans and visitors the opportunity to create their own personalised bus tour exploring the city's history.
- The app also scored an award for best benefit to the ACT Community ($5000)
Best Overall Digital Humanities Award ($5000)
- The Outsider team – for Day in the Life, offering greater use of metadata and statistical data to present a more comprehensive look at snapshots in time.
Best use of Science ($5000)
- Laser Explosions – for TimeCapsule, which visualises trends in 44 metrics over the last 30 years, sourced from 15 government datasets.
Best Use of Bureau of Meterology data Award ($2500)
- NullReference – for WeatheredOaks, an advanced programming interface for the ACORNSat historical weather data – a data set provided by the Bureau of Meteorology containing temperatures from many Australian weather stations from approximately 1900 to December last year.
- NullReference’s project also won the AGIMO award for best API development tool for Government data sets ($2500)
Best Use of Geoscience Australia Data ($2500)
- Hackeroos – for Safe Route, which helps users monitor bush fires in their region, alerts them in case of emergency, assists with evacuation and allows users to notify Emergency Services if they need to be rescued.
Open Government Award ($2000)
- 2 Guys 1 App – for their OpenBudget app, which offers a brand new open source data series for government expenditure by department and function with an online visualisation tool.
This year's GovHack saw several big names in support, including Adobe, MailChimp, Palantir.
It also featured some of the biggest data holders from the Australian Government involved to provide prize money and data, including the National Archives of Australia, the Australian Government Information Management Office, and the Bureau of Meteorology.
GovHack is a non-profit run by volunteers from within the Australian Gov 2.0 community (#gov2au), Rewired State and the eGovernment Technology Cluster, with support from the University of Canberra INSPIRE Centre and NICTA.