Hacking Encouraged

October 2, 2017

A seemingly unlikely assignment came in the form of hacking for one group of Bachelor of Computing Systems students.

Third year Bachelor of Computing Systems student Jesse Morten can now add Hackathon to his list of interesting and educational EIT Tairāwhiti experiences.


Hacking might not seem like model student behaviour, but for a group of Bachelor of Computing Systems students, their ability to hack earned them a trip to Hawke’s Bay.

GovHack events are a Government initiative designed to bring together the best and brightest budding minds in the IT sector, to come up with creative mock systems based on national data.

The word hack originates from the early days of computing. It technically means working with and creating code. It is only in recent times that the word hack has become a widely used slang term for breaking into an IT system.

Based on the original meaning of the word, GovHack events require small teams of competitors to produce any kind of hack using government data in 46 hours. The format of a hack is unspecified, but the most common are web applications, mobile applications, or visualisations.There were eight GovHack events in New Zealand this year, stretching from Whangarei to Dunedin. Four EIT Tairāwhiti students travelled for the last weekend of July, to work from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon for the Hawke’s Bay rendition.

Third year student Jesse Morten was part of the Tairāwhiti contingent.

He was placed in a group of students from other institutes and universities, who decided to work with motor accident data.“We created a crash application, with the goal of being able to estimate crash outcomes and ultimately prevent them,” says Jesse.

Creating the app involved comparing current data from everything to car type and whether the driver or occupants were eating at the time of the crash – to how weather and large scale events impacted crash statistics. “The more information you consider, the more circumstances you can come up with that no one has thought of. We even went as far as comparing All Blacks games and burgers, to see if there was a correlation between events and eating.”

Jesse has always loved computers and says from a young age he would take apart different electronics and put them back together.

However broadening his IT horizons was not the highlight of the trip.“The main thing I enjoyed was meeting other people from all walks of life, especially some of the EIT Hawke’s Bay students who also attended the event. It was good to see the different skill sets and knowledge bases from other students taking similar courses.

“The pressure was exciting too because you have two and half days to do a big project and you think you have heaps of time but then suddenly it’s all go.”

Jesse says his group made the experience that much more rewarding.“There were six of us and we all worked really well together.”