Hackers descend on Sydney's GooglePlex for mashup jam

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Hackers descend on Sydney's GooglePlex for mashup jam

Google hosts weekend code-fest to explore the use of government data.

Google Australia plans to incorporate data released by the Government 2.0 Taskforce as part of an 'open access' initiative into its Google Maps platform.

Taskforce member and director of engineering at Google Australia Alan Noble told iTnews that the web giant was "going to look at all of the data sets" released by federal and state governments "to see which of those can be used."

"There's one data set in particular that we've been trying to get our hands on for quite some time - which is the national toilet data set," Noble said.

"That's certainly one data set that we're very, very keen to use and get those toilet locations on Google Maps for example".

He said that Google would also be looking at "other data sets" to incorporate into its Google Maps platform such as cycling data, boat ramp locations and marine hazards.

The data has been released as part of an effort by the Federal Government to explore the benefits of open access to public sector information.

Open access is defined by the Government 2.0 Taskforce as meaning "access on terms and in formats that clearly permit and enable such use and re-use by any member of the public".

The culmination of the Federal Government's exploration of open accessibility is Mashup Australia, a contest offering a top prize of $10,000 for the best re-use of the data.

The contest has spurred a number of so-called 'hackfests' around the nation, including one at Sydney's Googleplex on Saturday [see photo gallery, top right], where programmers gathered to work on projects using the data.

Noble told a room of programmers on Saturday that the release of government data would allow for more "informed" policy decisions by governments.

He said Google was a "big believer in setting data free" and noted the importance of having government data released quickly under a Creative Commons license.

The license was necessary both to ensure ongoing access to the information by the developer could not be revoked and to allow programmers to profit from the applications they built, he said.

"At the end of the day we have the potential to make Australia a better place to live," Noble said.

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