GovHack 2016: 'gone from the periphery to the serious centre' of government

By Harley Dennett

October 28, 2016

Data without ingenuity is like a lamp without power, says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and that’s why GovHack is so important.

The hackathon event, connecting citizens with government and industry to help unlock the social and economic value of open data, held it’s annual red carpet awards on Saturday. A full dozen Commonwealth departments signed on this year to support and mentor teams as they use government datasets in new and innovative ways.

That milestone is a tipping point for GovHack, says former Tasmanian premier David Bartlett. Headlining the national awards for GovHack 2016 gathered at the State Library of South Australia last Saturday, Bartlett said GovHack points the way to better democracies, better communities and better outcomes.

“GovHack demonstrates the value of data to governments … [it] has gone from the periphery to the serious centre of what public servants and minister are thinking about when they think about those permanent problems.”

Nonetheless, Bartlett encouraged the GovHack community to “remain at the edge” and not be subsumed by government.

Craig Laundy, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, added that GovHack’s value was not just in the social value of the individual products it creates, but the multiplier effect: “Traditionally its been a ‘mine, mine, mine’ mentality, not a shared mentality.”

The awards ceremony took place in Adelaide as part of South Australia’s 10-day Open State meta-festival that celebrates openness to new ideas and collaboration. Erma Ranieri, the state’s commissioner for public sector employment said data is critical to Open State.

The Productivity Commission will be releasing its report on government data availability and use next week.

If you haven’t heard of GovHack before…

GovHack is the (mostly) annual hackathon where teams from across Australia and New Zealand compete over a 46-hour weekend event to create the most creative and useful new products using government data. Some of the products are serious tools for citizens, some are fun visualisations, some are commercially viable.

The event’s national director Richard Tubb describes it as: “creative people from across the nation greatly impressed the judges with their outstanding ideas for projects that helped unlock the value of open data for everyone in the community.”

This year the event attracted over 3000 participants at 40 locations across Australia and New Zealand, believed to be the world’s largest annual government open data hackathon.

Watch the full award ceremony below.

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