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EIT is hosting open data competition GovHack

September 3, 2019

A team of hackers working on their project at a previous GovHack at EIT.

From 6 – 8 September EIT will be one of six locations in New Zealand to host GovHack, one of the world’s largest open data competitions. EIT’s campuses in Taradale and Auckland are running the hackathon for a third time with close to 100 attendees already registered.

The teams will have the whole weekend to use open government data to find innovative solutions for “problems”, to unlock new social and economic value from open data, or to improve government or community services. A hack can be anything that uses data in a clever and creative way, e.g. data visualisations, artistic displays or mobile apps. This year’s theme is “A Festival of Ideas” which emphasizes the fun that the event is meant to be.

“It’s amazing to see what people can create with open data in just 46 hours,” says EIT computing lecturer Dr Tom Hartley who brought the hackathon to EIT.

Two years ago for instance, a Hawke’s Bay team developed a tsunami warning app for the civil defence group. The app is pulling data from buoys that are measuring the waves’ size out in the ocean. The app tells people in an emergency where they should evacuate to.

“GovHack is a competition but I would rather describe it as a collaboration disguised as a competition,” says Tom. “It opens the door for collaboration with government, councils and industry. It provides people with the opportunity to build new networks but also supports the community.”

The event attracts a lot of interest from Hawke’s Bay industry with local councils and a growing numbers of businesses becoming sponsors, holding workshops and mentoring the attendees.