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Geeks, Government & Glory

Government data is big business. A 2011 report undertaken for the European Commission estimated the direct and indirect contribution made by public sector information to the EU27 economy at €140 billion per annum. Meanwhile, in the US open data is giving rise to companies like Zillow, valued at $2 billion, and startups like enigma.io, which earlier this year received $1.1 million in seed funding. Is it any wonder that the open data movement is gaining traction the world over?

As shown by the recent Queensland Government Opening the Vault event, there is no shortage of enthusiasm around open data here in Queensland either. Following hot on the heels of that event is GovHack 2013, a national event run for and by open data enthusiasts and volunteers around the country. In Queensland, Brisbane and the Gold Coast are playing host to the event this year, which runs for 48 hours beginning at 6pm on Friday, May 31. Over 500 competitors across Australia will vie for national prizes, with 100 of those competing in Queensland.

Ricky Robinson, organiser for the GovHack Brisbane satellite event, said ‘GovHack provides a fantastic opportunity to keep up the momentum that’s building around open data in Queensland. We call on anyone who’s contemplated developing applications or creating visualisations using the recent and ongoing data releases from the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to jump in and have a go. There are some great local and national prizes up for grabs, and we’ve lined up an awesome venue that’s perfect for hacking and sure to get the creative juices flowing: The Cube at QUT Gardens Point.’

Not to be outdone, Aaron Birkby of Silicon Lakes explains ‘GovHack on the Gold Coast is sure to be a great event. We’ve enjoyed excellent support from the Gold Coast City Council, and I’d like to encourage developers, hackers, data scientists, digital artists and aspiring tech entrepreneurs to join us at the Robina Community Centre and get involved in creating things from open data.’

The two Queensland satellite events have attracted a wide range of local sponsors including QUT, Aroma Cafe, REIQ, River City Labs, Silicon Lakes, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, Gold Coast City Council, Di Bella, Brisbane City Council Libraries, Queensland Museum, QCIF and UQ. Nationally, GovHack is supported by Platinum sponsors NICTA, the eGovernment Technology Cluster and Microsoft, and Gold sponsors Palantir, Google, Relational IO, Link Digital and NeCTAR, as well as an array of government agencies.

The organisers have this year emphasised the need for government involvement and representation at the event. ‘Those government agencies who got the most out of last year’s event were those who were on the ground and promoting their data at ground zero. This year we have run government briefing sessions to give them the inside scoop on how to build interest in their data’, said national GovHack organiser, Pia Waugh.

Will any Queensland teams lay a claim to the national prizes on offer. Let’s hope so!

About Ricky Robinson

When he's not writing for The Tech Street Journal, Ricky's working at NICTA, Australia’s ICT Centre of Excellence, where he performs a mix of industry engagement, research and, of course, software engineering. Ricky holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Queensland and spent some time in Mountain View, California, at Sun Microsystems Research Labs. Ricky's the prime instigator of TSJ.