Each year, the government runs an open programming event called GovHack to challenge coders from many different backgrounds.
Pia Waugh says she has the coolest job ever. As director of Govhack hackathon in the Federal Government Department of Finance, Pia describes herself as “open data ninja” and “head cat-herder” for one of Australia’s biggest open programming events, a 48-hour hackathon.
In 2017, more than 1700 people in over 400 teams from 36 cities across Australia met up at various sites on a weekend in July.
Their mission: To create great new applications using freely available public information and government data. Oh, and to compete for around $165,000 in prize money.
Hacking in 48 hours
The GovHack hackathon teams start on a Friday night and have 48 hours to create a solution and produce a short video summary and ‘pitch’. In the following month, it’s up to a public vote to decide the winner.
Some of the 2017 winners included: Reefdom, a mobile app that teaches young people about our effect on the coral reefs; Little Play Space, which matches volunteer retirees with local families in need of childcare; and Emergency Department Load Forecasting, which predicts when ED’s will see an influx of patients.
TAKE THE QUIZ!
High schoolers get involved
Pia says even high school students participate in GovHack.
“It’s not just a way to develop their skills, but also to learn to work in the community, to work with code, and it gives them a chance to create a portfolio.”
Pia adds that, in the past three years, some have gone on to apply these skills at uni and in business. Plus, the creations at GovHack hackathon show potential beyond the competition.
“One team created a game called AussieMon – it’s like Pokémon but uses Australian animals. Kids love those battle card games, so it was a real hit!”
– Fran Molloy
Interested? Get involved! Visit the GovHack website.
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs