Powerful ideas at GovHack

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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Kevin Double helps Jack Johnson record a soundbite as part of his team's GovHack project. PHOTO/BEVAN CONLEY
Kevin Double helps Jack Johnson record a soundbite as part of his team's GovHack project. PHOTO/BEVAN CONLEY

Four new and creative ideas came to life at the Whanganui GovHack event in the weekend.

GovHack is a 48-hour Australasia-wide competition for teams or individuals to come up with creative ways to use and present publicly available data. Projects to come out of GovHack are often digital platforms such as websites and apps.

It's the second time Whanganui has been involved in GovHack. This time it was hosted by Double Farley Creative Partners in Watt St.

Organiser Marianne Archibald said the numbers for the Whanganui event, which began on Friday night and finished on Sunday night, were better than expected.

"We were expecting about 25 people but we had 31 people turn up in the end," Ms Archibald said.

The group was split into four teams, which each came up with a concept to work on during the weekend.

"The teams were given a brief, which was pretty broad, and people started gravitating towards each other and coming up with ideas. It was all very self-directed - there was no-one who was 'the boss'."

The final phase of GovHack was for each team to produce a video about their project.

Ms Archibald said the teams only have 47 hours to complete their project.

"So none of the projects are really ready to go on the market. It's more about the ideas, the coding, the explanation of why this idea would be useful."

Brett Cooper, from Feilding, and Ian Tairea, from Palmerston North, were part of a team working on a project about New Zealand war memorials.

Their app allows users to drill down into the information on all of New Zealand's war memorials, including detail about individual names on the monuments.

"So then they are not just a name carved on a stone monument; they are a person with a history," Mr Cooper said.

Mr Cooper is a sculptor and a self-confessed "geek", and Mr Tairea teaches computing at Freyberg High School in Palmerston North. It's the first time either man has taken part in GovHack.

"I wanted to check it out to see if it was something my students might be interested in," Mr Tairea said.

"I'm definitely keen to bring some of them back next year.

GovHack events were held in New Zealand in Whanganui, Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.

In all, nearly 500 projects were completed throughout Australia and New Zealand.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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