‘GovHack’ to push open data limits

An annual ‘hackathon’ running since 2009 will be open to entrepreneurial thinkers in the Latrobe Valley for the first time later this month.

Federation Training in Morwell will host the GovHack event at the future Hi-Tech Precinct site, and is essentially a rapid design competition for building skills, networking and hearing from experts about how to find solutions using open data.

Latrobe Valley Authority chief executive officer Karen Cain said the event would be an “ideas incubator”, where attendees would come with an idea they might like to solve and work through a design thinking process to eventually come up with a product.

“(The final product) could be useable and it might not, it doesn’t matter,” Ms Cain said.

“It’s really about understanding what’s available for people to learn about in our community.”

GovHack started in 2009 as a government-sponsored initiative, and is now an annual volunteer-run international competition.

Open data is information available to the public, and could be for example, census data.

Ms Cain said at a previous GovHack event in Queensland, participants developed a smartphone application to help coordinate public searches for missing people using a global positioning system heat map for areas that hadn’t yet been searched.

“It combines missing person data from a database – Australian government data,” she said.

“What (the event) does is open people’s minds to what is possible and if people can be inspired and meet people with similar thinking… maybe it’s an opportunity for pursuing something.”

Ms Cain said it could build skills and bringing people together who may not have known they had similar ideas.

“What it might do is tap into some talent we’re not aware of in our community and give an opportunity for people to get involved in something they may have been thinking of for some time,” Ms Cain said.

“We really want to promote that we have talent in our community and we really are thinking about how we go into the future as well.”

Anyone can register for the Latrobe Valley event, which is one of 40 across Australia and New Zealand.

Latrobe Valley GovHack event will be held at Federation Training, Morwell on Friday, 28 to Sunday, 30 July, and those interested can register at the GovHack website.