In data we trust: hacking a better future

By Natalie Kikken

3 September 2019

3 minute read

People in discussion sitting at a desk with computers

Heads down, thumbs up: GovHack will bring together some of Australia’s brightest minds over one weekend, across Australia.

When you think about hacking, you probably think about callous and calculating scammers. But hacking can also be used 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.

This year, we’re a part of GovHack. This event sees enthusiastic hackers getting together to try and solve some of Australia’s real and meaty challenges. It’s happening from 6-8 September all over the country and you could be part of it.

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 meeting the needs of a growing domestic space industry.

Data, data everywhere

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 85 million records and more than 11,200 datasets… 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. But shhh, the challenges are a secret until they’re announced at the start of the event.

The results could be bigger than Pokemon Go, Bitcoin, and create real and tangible benefits for all Australians. We’re excited to see what will be generated.

Want to help us unlock the future?

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. You can even participate online from the comfort of your lounge room!

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

GovHack winners will be announced in November. We’re on the judging panel so we’ll keep you posted on the solutions generated to help drive creativity and innovation.