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Open Data, Open Government, Endless Possibilities

Governments collect and publish enormous amounts of data, but much of that data isn't accessible or promoted openly to the general public. This is often because governments have limited resources with which to engage the citizens and demonstrate the power and impact this data can have. As Australian governments shift further and further towards opening their data, the power of the crowd has meant that amazing ideas can come from anywhere and anyone in the community. GovHack aims to encourage open government and open access to data by meshing together those from government, industry, academia and the public to connect, reuse, and draw insights from government data.

In 2013, a number of Thoughtworkers took part in the GovHack event and were impressed with the solutions and prototypes developed in just one weekend. In early 2014, we decided we wanted to organise the biggest Sydney GovHack ever, complete with a huge attendance, innovative solutions, and inspired participants from both the government and larger community alike.

The Hacks

Every GovHack event demonstrates fascinating new applications and mashups of government data, and the Sydney event this year was no different. The Sydney-based projects won numerous awards at both the state and national level, here are a few of our favourites:

  • myHospital: a smartphone web app enabling anyone to look up public hospitals in their vicinity
  • CancerMash: provides a medium to analyse historic cancer trends and presents an interface that helps understand relationships between cancer types, age groups and other factors (this could include tobacco, alcohol, geography, lifestyle etc.)
  • Show the Gap: Compare yourself with an indigenous Australian in terms of expected lifespan, health risks, and chances of employment.


Thank You and Moving Forward

We would like to thank all those who were involved, without which GovHack Sydney would not have been possible, including Anthony Sceresini, Svetlana Filimonova, Sam Gibson, Krystyna Bury, Marko Vuksanovic, Evan Cook and Carol Mak.

We believe open government and open access to data can provide an exponential amount of new ideas, new insights and perspectives when placed in the hands of the broader community. Govhack empowers the community to get involved in fueling positive change for the greater community, which we believe helps to redefine the role of technologists in society. We would highly recommend anyone from developers, to PMs to BAs to be involved in the future; be the change.  

If you are interested in getting involved in upcoming hack weekends, we highly recommend getting involved in HealthHack, a data hack for medical research problems, or get in contact with GovHack to be part of this awesome initiative in the future.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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