One hack of a weekend

By Natalie Kikken

19 November 2019

3 minute read

GovHack award winner holds a GovHack bag and is standing next to Director of the Atlas of Living Australia with GovHack banners in the background

Whale of a time: A member of the Wilky team is awarded a GovHack prize by Director of Atlas of Living Australia, Dr Andre Zerger (right).

Our data has been hacked.

But don’t panic. It’s nothing illegal. It was all part of GovHack.

More than 1000 of Australia’s brightest minds came together to transform data into solutions for Australia’s pressing challenges. We asked these clever hackers to look at a range of data and come up with ideas to use them for good. And they delivered. The hackers submitted over 500 solutions.

We asked hackers to address two big challenges:

  1. Australia@Sea: what is our future relationship with the ocean environment?
  2. Thrive or survive: how can we adapt for the future?

The group submitted so many great ideas. The tricky part was choosing two winners. But… drum roll please… the winners have been announced!

Bringing whale sounds to land lubbers

Team Wilky took our top spot in the Australia@Sea challenge.

They generated a novel solution to enhance community engagement with whales and our ocean environment. It works by capturing whale sounds during migration using an underwater recording device called a hydrophone. The sounds are then transmitted to an iPad on shore for the community to listen to.

Sounds simple right? And it is. But it’s an effective way to better understand whale behaviour and connect the community with the ocean environment.

Watch the team’s video pitch.

Take a walk on the shady side

The winner for the thrive or survive challenge was team Green Routes.

Imagine it’s a 40-degree day and you need to run errands. The last thing you want to do is walk around in the hot sun. But a stroll through nature is beneficial in so many ways.

Picture of the Green Routes team standing together smiling at the camera

Turning down the heat: Green Routes won a GovHack award for an app that allows users to identify urban hot spots and the best walking routes with shade.

The Green Routes team created an app to solve this conundrum. The app tracks the best walking route to ensure you avoid heat hotspots and stay cool. It identifies shade and canopy cover. It also tells you how much carbon you’re saving by walking instead of using a car, how many calories you’re burning, and animals recently spotted in the area.

What a great way to stay cool, exercise and increase your well-being!

Data all year round

Hackers had access to oodles of our freely-accessible data to generate their ideas. This includes our Data Access Portal (DAP) that houses a plethora of data available 365 days a year. It includes everything from the changing climate, our future health and meeting the needs of a growing domestic space industry.

Hackers also tapped into 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.

ALA Director, Andre Zeger presented the awards to our winners on Saturday 9 November in Canberra.

“Our data is key to Australia’s future – and we need to engage with the science leaders of tomorrow to drive digital literacy.

“It was inspiring to see so many passionate hackers take our data and turn it into novel and creative solutions to connect with our environment. Well done to everyone who participated.”