NASA extolls virtues of open government

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NASA extolls virtues of open government
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Space challenges and hackathons.

Space agency NASA has sought Australian government and private organisations to participate in an international space apps competition next year.

NASA's open government initiative director Nick Skytland told the Gov 2.0 conference in Canberra that the challenge will culminate in a two-day event that will provide an opportunity for government to use the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address global challenges.

“NASA wanted to take space-developed data and technology and develop applications to address challenges of global importance,” he said.

During the event, NASA representatives and officials from international space agencies will gather with scientists and citizens to use publicly-released scientific data to create solutions for issues, such as weather impact on the global economy and depletion of ocean resources.

“The competition embraces the concept of 'open innovation' to improve performance, inform decision-making, encourage entrepreneurship, and solve problems more effectively,” Skytland said.

Skytland said the format would be similar to "hackathons" NASA has promoted with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, HP and the World Bank.

Dubbed “Random Hacks of Kindness” (RHoK) the hackathons seek to develop practical open source solutions to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation challenges.

A recent one attracted thousands of developers in June 4-5, 2011, from over 18 locations including Melbourne, Australia.

Earlier hackathons saw the development of  “I’m OK”, an SMS (Short Message Service) application that lets people inform their families of their status during emergencies which was used on the ground during the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010.

Other apps have received support and interest from governments, non-government and other international organisations.

The next hackathon is scheduled for December 3rd and 4th, Skytland said.

“We are now extending them to anything that’s a challenge to humanity is fair game for RHoK”.

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