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Turning data into great ideas

Do you consider yourself a team player? Are you something of a social media expert, an artist who enjoys working online or just love to tell stories?

If that’s the case, the GovHack event being held at EIT Hawke’s Bay at the end of this month may appeal to you. It is a 46-hour competition, from Friday 29 July to Sunday 31 July in which teams compete to see what can be created from information and data, otherwise known as open data, made available by local councils and central Government agencies.

Open data is information released by an organisation that doesn’t contain any private or confidential details.  It is information that the organisation collects or creates as part of their day-to-day business.

GovHack is an opportunity for members of the community to take open data and turn it into something new, says local organiser and Napier City Council GIS Developer/Analyst Ian Tidy. And with this year’s theme being “Stories to tell, questions to answer”, he’s hoping plenty of creative types will get involved.

“GovHack is an event for everyone.  Each team needs members with a range of skills - artists, story tellers, and communicators,” says Ian.

The Hawke’s Bay event will be used by the local Councils to help form their policies on open data, so this event is an opportunity for local people to provide some feedback, he adds. An important part of GovHack is for teams to record their process, which is taken into consideration for the prizes, ranging from $50 for individuals through to $500 for the best overall team.

The individual categories include; the "number 8 wire" for ingenuity, the “busy bee” for best hard worker, the “rising star”, acknowledging an up-and-coming talent, and the “helping hand”,  for someone who has assisted teams other than their own over the weekend.

Ian says there are many ways in which open data could be developed into something helpful: such as statistics to compare Hawke’s Bay with other regions, using environmental information to highlight the best conditions for surfing, creating a mobile phone app to help people navigate their way around local landmarks, or writing a plan to address housing issues.

Once entries have been judged a follow-up event will be held to award prizes to teams, with three prizes in each category; a $500 first prize, $300 for second, and $100 for third, funded by the Councils.

These are: the Arts Award, for the best data journalism article or data visualisation, School Team, for the best entry from a school based team, Local Data, for the best solutions which primarily uses Hawke's Bay data sources, Teamwork, for the best local team, and first, second and third prizes for the Best Hawke's Bay entry.

GovHack was founded in Australia in 2009, and first held in New Zealand last year when close to 2000 people participated. Each year GovHack Australia hosts a red carpet awards night to celebrate the achievements of international and national prize winners. The team which came up with an emergency response solution won $15,000 and became the overall Australasian award winner in 2015.

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12 May 2017

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