In data we trust: hacking a better future

By Natalie Kikken

5 August 2020

4 minute read

GovHack team brainstorming

A 2019 GovHack team brainstorming their ideas.

When you think about hacking, you probably think about callous and calculating scammers. But we can also use hacking for good.

What the heck is a hack?

A hack is basically ‘a quick or inelegant solution to a particular problem.’ And a group hack or a hackathon is where the brightest minds come together to brainstorm ideas and generate solutions for a range of challenges. And there’s usually prizes and prestige up for grabs.

Last year we sponsored two GovHack challenges that produced over 60 entries and some incredible results. Team Wilky took our top spot in the Australia@Sea challenge. They created a novel solution to enhance community engagement with whales and our ocean environment.

The winner for the Thrive or Survive challenge was team Green Routes. The Green Routes team made an app to track the best walking route to make sure you avoid heat hotspots and stay cool during the hot weather.

This year, we’re back at it again. We’re joining the hack to try and solve some of Australia’s real and meaty challenges. It’s happening from 14 to 16 August all over the country. And you could be part of it!

GovHack people sitting around a table.

GovHack enables creators and innovators to supercharge science and drive digital literacy.

Data, data everywhere

We’ll be making our scientific data available – a lot of it – for hackers to show us their stuff. The hackers will use our Data Access Portal (DAP) that houses a plethora of data. This data is freely accessible, all year round. And it helps to deliver solutions to address Australia’s greatest challenges. From the changing climate, our future health and enhancing the resilience of our environment.

Hackers can also tap into our Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), the most comprehensive data set on Australia’s biodiversity ever produced. ALA has more than 93 million records… and counting.

The data fun doesn’t stop there. We have moorings across the country that collect long-term data on what happens under the waves. This includes chemical, physical and biological changes to our oceans. This information feeds in to the Integrated Marine Observatory System’s data collection, which will also be available.

We’ll be presenting two challenges for GovHack hackers to integrate our data and supercharge science solutions. The challenges are a secret until they’re announced at the start of the event.

The results could be bigger than Pokemon Go or Bitcoin and create real and tangible benefits for all Australians. We’re excited to see what ideas the teams will generate.

Want to help us unlock the future with GovHack?

As a future focussed organisation, we invest in our people and infrastructure to collect, store, share and analyse data. Our data allows us to develop insights and solutions to address Australia’s greatest challenges.

We also recognise the importance of building digital literacy. This means we will be better prepared for the future by identifying emerging industries, generating new skills and jobs, and creating impacts in education and STEM.

To get involved in GovHack, you don’t have to be a scientist, data lover or software engineer. Some of the most successful teams bring other skills to the table like business development, marketing and education. And with a combination of online and in person events, there’s no excuse not to get involved.

We’ll also have mentors on hand to help you analyse the data and to answer any of your burning questions!

In October we’ll announce the GovHack winners. We’ll also keep you posted on the solutions generated to help drive creativity and innovation.