Open data nets awards for South Australia, National Library

By Harley Dennett

Monday August 11, 2014

One year after an open data declaration, the South Australian government has taken out the top prize for best government participation in the GovHack 2014 awards, while the National Library of Australia took out the highest vote for government data.

The red carpet awards in Brisbane on Sunday also saw recognition for the many “clever and creative” public servants participating in GovHack’s 48-hour public data hack-a-thon in July this year. Public servants participated in 26 teams this year.

Canberra-based team Make Hack Void, took out the top prize for best public servant team for their “collaborative, multi-disciplinary, innovative and outcomes focused approach by public servants”. Make Hack Void developed the project ACTifacts, a showcase of the ACT’s public art, designed to be presented on large digital displays around Canberra.

A quarter of the projects submitted to GovHack 2014 were from South Australia, the largest representation of any state, in part because of the wealth of public data made available by the portal and “road tested” during the annual Unleashed competition in Adelaide and Mount Gambier.

“Now in its second year, Unleashed gives the general public access to non-sensitive data that can be reused and remixed to create mobile apps and web tools that solve problems and generate new ideas.”

The portal launched in September last year with 230 datasets from SA’s agencies and departments, and has grown to more than 480 datasets. Popular Baby Names is its most accessed dataset, with traffic, maps and suburb information also frequently turned into apps and web tools for professionals.

An action plan announced at the same time set SA on a path of “open by default”. The Officer of the Chief Information Officer has set goals for agencies, including creating Open Data Advocates and implementation strategies in each agency.

Because this is new for many, guidelines are being developed to ensure privacy and security, and assist agencies with delivery of the data to ensure they’re sustainable. Data releases are usually described as a boon for entrepreneurs and programmers, but the South Australian government also sees the advantages for itself:

“Open data has the power to deliver data that was previously held by one agency across the government to advance how we do business, lower the cost of service delivery and improve policy decisions,” the action plan states.

Next steps for South Australia’s CIO Bret Morris is “digital by default”, with expected savings on service delivery.

Best Government Participation:

1st Prize:

  • South Australian Government for publishing hundreds of new datasets for GovHack and engaging with data custodians and developers.


2nd Prize (split between):

  • The Federal Department of Communications – for substantial support of GovHack 2014.
  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – for publishing new data, engaging with developers, providing support throughout the weekend and making the funniest sponsor video.


Highest Voted Government Data:

1st Prize:

  • Trove from the National Library of Australia

2nd Prize:

  • Building Permit Activity Data by the Victorian Building Authority

Best Public Servant Teams:

1st Prize:

  • Team Make Hack Void (Canberra) – for exemplifying a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, innovative and outcomes focused approach by public servants.

2nd Prize:

  • Just Team Kitten (Canberra) – for an engaging hack by public servants that engages the public through gaming techniques, a great lesson for the public service.
  • Team Michael de Hoog – for building a beautiful, pragmatic hack that will help non-technical users engage in discovering evidence.

Highly Commended:

  • Team TotesProfesh (Tasmania) – for extending the work of another department for the benefit of all.
  • Team Jonathan and Wai (Canberra) – for beautifully solving a real world problem.
  • Team Charlie’s Data Angels (Canberra) – for taking a cross agency approach to problem solving and evidence based policy!
  • Team Hakman (Adelaide) – for creating a 3D hack that is engaging and useful to the public.
  • Team A Kicking Wheel (Canberra) – for engaging with complex data from another department and making it come to life.

A full list of projects and their videos are available at the GovHack website.

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